Want healthy, happy, confident kids? Throw some dirt on them.

Every parent knows getting dirty and messy is practically part of a kid's job description.

Whether they're playing outside, coloring on the floor, or just eating, they'll definitely get covered in something grimy.

Given that inevitable result, there are at least two ways parents can react — obsessively clean their child and scold them for their actions or simply embrace the mess.


And while it may seem strange to do the latter, it actually can be beneficial for everyone involved.

Letting kids have the freedom to get dirty encourages a level of confidence around the unknown world out there. And such an attitude can make them much more capable of navigating their life ahead.

Harley Hawkins getting up close and personal with dirt. Photo via Zoe Hawkins, used with permission.

Plus, letting kids revel in the dirt actually helps boost their immune systems.

"If we are overly sterile and don't expose the immune system to the germs it's supposed to fight, that skews the immune system to an allergic and self-reactive response," explains Samantha Lin, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

That's why Lin lets her own son play and explore uninhibited.

"I don't jump to stop him if he wants to get in the sand, dirt, mud, leaves, water running out of the waterspout, etc.," Lin says. "If your immune system is working correctly, then these exposures should not make you sick."

And best of all? Being pro-dirt can make parents' lives less stressful since they don't feel compelled to police their kids' behavior as much.

Via iStock.

We spoke with six parents to learn why it pays to give kids the freedom to get dirty.

Their answers are as enlightening as they are hilarious.

1. Zoe Hawkins from Arizona encourages her daughter, Harley, to play with food.

Harley digging in at mealtime. Photo by Zoe Hawkins.

"Using their hands, babies learn to feed themselves, learning the difference in taste and texture between a piece of toast and a spoonful of yoghurt and a wedge of cheese or meat," Hawkins writes on her blog.

"No force feeding, no 'here comes the airplane,' just letting the little one figure out food in a positive, fun way, hopefully setting the tone for a future of wonderful dinner-time experiences and discoveries."

2. Minnesota native Emily Conigliaro made a mud kitchen, and now kids from the neighborhood play there.

Experimentation in the mud kitchen! Photo by Emily Conigliaro, used with permission.

"My daughter really loved to dig in the garden and get muddy," explains Conigliaro. "I poked around on Pinterest and saw the idea for a mud kitchen. So I dug stuff I had out of the garage and found pavers and bricks. Then took a trip with her to the thrift store to pick out what tools she wanted."

"The mud keeps her, as well as most of the other kids in our neighborhood, very busy! They all really love to get dirty," she continues. "They will even sometimes paint themselves with mud. This year we planted some wildflowers next to the mud kitchen so the kids can pick flowers and plants to add to their masterpieces."

3. Living in the infamously dirty city of New York, Andrew Dahl has relaxed into letting his daughter touch most everything.

"She loves grabbing subway poles, and I let her go to town," Dahl says. "She undoubtedly gets far, far more germs at day care, so it's not worth getting too concerned about some subway gunk. She's also all about putting rocks and dirt in her mouth."

Believe it or not, city kids tend to have stronger immune systems because of their exposure to busy public spaces like the subway.

4. Los Angeles mom Diana Metzger lets her baby get messy for the same reason she lets her dog do it — it makes them happy.

Izzy Metzger playing in the sand. Photo by Diana Metzger, used with permission.

"When Izzy was about 1 and a half, a bunch of milk got spilled on the floor, and we let her slide around in it and move it all around with her hands," Metzger recalls. "She was a total mess, as was the kitchen floor, but she was laughing and having so much fun exploring that, so why stop her?"

Metzger continues, "Also I have the same motto about Izzy at a playground as I do for my dog Harper at the dog park (or Izzy at the dog park for that matter). Dirty equals happy, which equals tired."

5. Julie G.'s experience cleaning her daughter's car seat is probably one that many parents can relate to.

Julie G's daughter on the playground. Photo via Julie G., used with permission.

"I use 'dirt is good' to justify just about everything," Julie G. explains. "Most recently, we've had a lot of rain, and my daughter got muddy footprints on her car seat cover. I decided to wash it yesterday for the first time in a year and a half. I was shaking it out over the grass outside first to get rid of crumbs. A Twizzler fell out into the grass, and my daughter ate it. Not too bad except she has only had Twizzlers once, on a road trip, in May."

It may sound gross, but hey, that sort of bold eating might help her be less picky when she's older.

6. And Carol Berkow from Pleasantville, New York, knows her daughter's messes are just part of the building blocks of life.

Helen Berkow enjoying a meal. Photo by Carol Berkow, used with permission.

"She likes to squish things between her fingers, rub them all over her face, stick her face into bowls of food, rub food in her hair, throw everything, and feed the dog," Berkow says. "As much as I'd like things to stay neat at mealtime, and not to have to wash the baby, the table, and the chair three times a day, she needs to learn to feed herself, and she won't learn any other way."

As you can see, dirtiness can have so many benefits, most of which would never be realized if parents force their kids to stay clean.

Of course, getting dirty often requires regular laundering, and some families don't have that luxury. Without easy access to a washing machine, cleaning clothes takes time, energy and money — things some families can't always afford.

The good news is that there are companies like Whirlpool who created the Care Counts laundry program – installing washers and dryers in schools to give families in need access to clean clothes. That way, every parent can let their kids get dirty without worrying how they're going to eventually get their clothes clean.

Via iStock.

Learn more about how the simple act of laundry is helping improve attendance by visiting Whirlpool's Care Counts™ website.

Having the freedom to get dirty should be something every child enjoys. Not only is it fun, it allows them to explore their world with reckless abandon and learn about themselves. This is just one way to help turn what's become a privilege into every child's right.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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