The Advent of Spring in the Nursery - Alteration of the Children's Diet and Clothing - Two Important Points to Decide - Nursery Furniture - The Cult of the Open Air - Hobbies for Children are the Best "Tonics"
In one sense, spring is the beginning of a new year in the nursery. The spring cleaning is generally organised at this season. The dust and dirt and accumulated rubbish of months past is removed from the nursery premises by the vigorous scrubbing, brushing, and cleaning which every good housewife carries out at this time of year.
Then the advent of spring means a somewhat different regimen in most nurseries. The children go out of doors more as the days lengthen. The tea hour is later, and very soon a run or a walk, after tea, finishes the day, instead of the indoor play of the last few months. The most unhygienic of nurses or mothers open the windows wider, because the draught bogey is less insistent every week we leave the New Year behind.
The question of spring and summer clothing is carefully gone into, and even diet is somewhat altered. So that, from every point of view, spring heralds a new year in the nursery. It is, therefore, a suitable time for good resolutions, and the most important of all resolutions have to do with health.
Every young mother who reads these pages should make up her mind to two things - first, to let this year see the beginning of rigid hygienic conditions in the nursery itself; secondly, to manage the children according to the newer, hardier methods which forbid over-coddling, and compel the children to live as natural an outdoor life as possible.
The spring-cleaning season is an excellent time for reconstructing the nursery. Every mother who can afford to spend a pound or two can have an ideally hygienic nursery, however small her house may be.
Articles have already appeared in Every Woman's Encyclopaedia on nursery furniture, so that I need only touch upon the health aspects of the question. From the health point of view, a washable nursery pap< necessity if the walls cannot be covered with washable paint. Then a washable floor of cork linoleum ensures that the whole background of the nursery can be washed over perhaps once a month.
With regard to the furniture, the minimum is the best for the children. A large cupboard or even two cupboards, a chair for each child, a table, and perhaps an ottoman box, provide sufficient furniture if there is a night nursery in addition, and the same rules for wallpaper and covering apply to this room. If there is a bath-room in the house, no toilet appliances of any sort need be kept in the nursery, as the children can always be washed and bathed before the older members of the household are astir.
At the spring-cleaning season, all unnecessary ornaments and superfluous pictures should be removed. A couple of pictures are just as decorative, and less likely to attract dust, as a dozen dotted haphazard over the wall. The Japanese could teach us a great deal with regard to the beauty of simplicity, and from the very beginning they bring their children up to appreciate the art of beauty - but it is given them in small doses. One picture, one vase, one spray of flowers - that is the Japanese idea.
The Open-air Cult
Once the nursery has been attended to, and converted into a hygienic apartment by removing every superfluous article, destroying old papers, books, and broken toys, and thoroughly cleansing every corner, the next business of the mother is to introduce fresh air into the nursery, and ensure its presence from henceforth. Make a rule that the nursery window is invariably pulled down three or four inches, and as the warmer weather comes, increase the space gradually. See that the children are out of doors morning, afternoon, and evening, whenever the weather and season permits.
If the children are ailing, do not fly to spring tonics, but try first what outdoor life and some alteration of diet will do. Perhaps they are having too much starch, too many milk puddings and mashed potato. Give them a little more fresh fruit, good beef-juice, and fresh eggs, whilst the child that is drinking plenty of milk is getting food of the very best type. Many children appear to be a little thin in spring, and this is an indication that they require more fat in the dietary. Give them thin bread, thickly buttered both sides, bacon fat, good gravy, and dripping. One of the best ways to give fat is as cream with morning porridge or with boiled cocoa.
Avoid " tonics." They are even less suitable in the nursery than for other members of the household. When a child appears to need a tonic, there is some cause of flagging health which must be discovered and put right. Now that the children are able to run about more out of doors, clothing need not be so heavy as it was a couple of months ago. The overcoat can be discarded if the child is walking, a good jersey and serge skirt or knickers providing a garb which is sufficiently warm and yet not too heavy. When it can be obtained, a short holiday in spring is an excellent health measure for the children. A brief change can be procured with economy, although it costs money, because it is easier to keep a child's health in good condition than to make him strong and robust once the habit of flagging health has been allowed to establish itself.
This is the time of year when the wise mother gets her children interested in some outdoor hobbies. Gardening is one of the best. It gives a child interesting physical exercise and the fresh-air life. A little light digging, hoeing, weeding, and planting provide ideal exercise in an interesting fashion for children. Nature study can also be started this season of the year, and half-holiday rambles into the country can be organised with the greatest benefit to their health. The development of frogs' eggs into tadpoles and frogs will be watched with keen enjoyment by the young people at this season, and the country walks, which the collection of such specimens entail, are better than any spring tonics that can be bought for them.
Such measures, apparently simple as they are, have a great deal of importance in keeping children healthy and happy, and life out of doors is such an essential part of management that a special article later in the year, when outdoor meals and outdoor sleeping can be organised with health benefit to the child, will be given.