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Barefoot Kids: Being a Wild Child

Barefoot kids were a normal sight when I was growing up.

I know things are different in other parts of the world, but in New Zealand, being barefoot as a kid was as normal as not having a bath every single day.

Whether it was because mum couldn’t stand the sight of us for too long or she needed to clean the house, my brother and I found ourselves outside in the yard a lot of the time growing up. We played in the sandpit, dropped bricks on our toes and competed to see who could get stuck in the orange tree the fastest.

And we did it all without any shoes. At the end of the day, we would come into the now clean house with black feet and mum would have a hernia. But she never told us to put our shoes on – she would much rather deal with the unmentionable muck after the fact.

I went to the doctor the other day, and my two and a half-year-old didn’t have any shoes on. I mean, she’s just going to rip them off her feet anyway. I’m not in the business of doing things over and over again.

barefoot kids

My wonderful, charismatic doctor – who is not from here – noticed this little detail and asked where her shoes were. Then he quickly corrected himself with the afterthought ‘oh wait, this is New Zealand.'

So for me, it's nice to see that going barefoot is still alive and well in New Zealand. It brings back my childhood and throws a carefree light over my children. I want them to have the simplest childhood they can, so if it means going barefoot, they're going barefoot.

Barefoot kids are more than just a whimsical tradition, however. Studies actually show that children who spend more time barefoot have it easier when it comes to growing. Wearing shoes can actually interfere with the shape and size of the foot as it develops.

This means that for optimum results, children are recommended to go barefoot for as much of the time as they can. This will allow their feet to grow as they should.

It really doesn’t surprise me that science has caught up with reality. Apart from the odd prickle or splinter, I can’t think of why I wouldn’t want barefoot kids. They may have black feet at the end of the day, but it’s not the end of the world. Heck, this may even encourage me to bath them more than twice a week (it’s hard with two, ok?).

barefoot kids

If you’re from a different part of the world where barefoot kids is a bit of a novelty, don't be afraid to try it out. Maybe stick to your backyard, to begin with – you might have a bold judgment or two coming your way otherwise.

At the end of the day, my reasons for letting my kids go barefoot are multiple. Most days, the fact that I don’t want to fight the battle of getting them to put on their shoes and keep them on trumps everything else.

If you're like me and prefer to adopt the no-fuss approach to parenting, then check out my blog on how to cope if your child is a fussy eater. If you like to fuss over your children, then I commend you! I just do not have the gusto or the will – which means that at the end of the day I'm probably the lazier parent.

None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes. I must say, though, it's so lovely to look up from washing the dishes into the backyard to see my almost three year old having a blast out there with no shoes on. That is until she starts screaming from the occasional angry thistle.

How often do your children go barefoot? Let me know!

barefoot kids

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