Not every parent relishes the idea of allowing their child to bury their bodies in jelly on an average afternoon. Chances are, you are probably aware of the many reasons why messy play is a must, but perhaps you are still not convinced the mess is worth it. Or maybe you want some tips for ‘clean’ messy play? Oh good! Read on…
Take it outdoors
If the weather is amenable, take your paints and your chalks and your slime and play outside. Make sure that your materials are easily swept up or environmentally friendly though. Good messy play activities for the garden include: water play, blowing bubbles, digging in the mud, sand play and even jelly baths.
Take it into the bathroom
Make your own bath crayons, run a tub and let them play. Use shaving foam and food colouring to make bath paints that can be rinsed away at the end of play. Put food colouring into the bath water. Throw in some foam letters and make words or phrases. Hell, why not fill the bath tub with baked beans if you really want a sensory experience? Bathrooms are great rooms because they can limit the mess and are easier to clean than carpets.
Use aprons or old clothes
Bit of a no brainer. Aprons or old t-shirts will protect clothing, if that’s what makes messy play so unappealing to you.
Take clothes away
Babies and smaller children are better, in warmer weather, to play in just their nappies. This means less washing for you, and added experience for them. Bare legs means more places to explore texture, warm and cold and even colours.
Make tidying up a game
If you really don’t like the mess, or can only stand it for so long before your whole body starts to twitch, then get the kids involved in helping to clear up. Make it a game. Who can tidy the most toys away the fastest? Get the kids to wash their messy toys in the bath, or at the sink (adding in a spot of water play here too). There are loads of ways to make tidying up fun.
Go to organised messy play sessions
This one is a massive cheat, but perhaps you might want to consider taking your kids to an organised session? This means your house stays calm but the kids still get the experiences.
Pick and choose activities that suit you
If messy play really makes you anxious then don’t push it. Choose activities that make you feel comfortable, otherwise you are less likely to allow the kids freedom to enjoy themselves. Maybe water play is as far as you can go. If so, that’s fine. If glitter and play dough makes you squirm, then don’t do it! There are other ways to indulge your kids in messy play.
Hopefully these ideas have helped you to see that messy play doesn’t always have to be so messy. But remember- all mess can be tidied away at the end of the day so that peace is restored to your home once more, whilst childhoods can never be revisited.
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