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Easing Into Messy Play

Are you afraid of the mess that comes with messy play? Do you fear letting your child help in the kitchen might ruin dinner?

Me too.

I know kids are messy and that it is okay, yet I don’t want the house (or myself) covered in whoknowswhat. My house isn’t even that clean most of the time so you would think I don’t care. But I do. I don’t know why, but I do.

Sponge and cotton swab painting.

Sponge and cotton swab painting.

Rissa has already decorated many walls, doors and even a couch cushion with crayons. Yet I’ve been hesitant to let her paint. I make up excuses like she might stick it in her mouth (which is true) or she will get it every where but on the paper (quite possible).

I had to let go of control and relax. Creativity is important to me, so I want her to experiment with ways to express herself. Plus, she wants to help with everything right now. Might as well use this opportunity before she loses interest.

Last year she made a few things at story time. Whatever we colored and glued together was usually dismantled by the time we got home. She is still a bit destructive like that, but it’s her artwork… she can do what she wants with it, right?

Over the past few months I’ve started introducing new activities like mixing water with oatmeal, colored water, jello painting, and sponge painting.

I’m having the hardest time with keeping my hands off when she helps me bake or cook. For now I let her help me measure, pour and stir. I’ve let her stir a little all by herself. Since I am afraid of us messing up meals right now, I prefer to have her help me bake dessert or make smoothies. I figure we can live with throwing away a cake (wait, what? did I just say that?) if needed rather than an entire dinner.

Rissa's frosting!

Rissa’s frosting!

Soon I think she may be ready to do more. Rissa is currently practicing how to spread frosting and peanut butter properly.

Tips for messy play activities:

  • Spread out a towel or blanket for easy cleanup.
  • Explain that nothing leaves the towel area or play time ends.
  • Help set items out and clean up.
  • Wear clothing ok if gets stained or ditch clothes completely.
  • Let them explore!

What kind of messy play does your child like?




Monday 1st of July 2013

Have you tried doing the messy play outside? With that and old clothes, they can explore and experiment without messing up the house! If it's warm enough, put her in a bathing suit and try letting her paint herself, or just play with the paint with her hands. Afterwards, you can just rinse her off with the hose. Good luck!

Darcy Zalewski

Monday 1st of July 2013

We'll be trying messy play outside more now that weather is decent. In Wisconsin we get kind of limited to summer for that, but now the baby is old enough to be out more too. :) Thanks for the suggestion!

Ashley @ Forgetful Momma

Wednesday 5th of June 2013

We're all about messy here. Both of my girls have painted by 7 months at the latest, paper taped to the bare floor. I'm sure they ate just as much of the paint as they wore. They had fun and I had fun watching them explore.

Darcy Zalewski

Friday 7th of June 2013

I don't know why I've put off messy so long. I wish I had a better art area for them. Well at least she got to play with her food haha. X will certainly be into it soon since he wants to get into whatever his big sis is doing!