“Uh-oh, mess!” was one of my daughter’s first and favorite things to say.
I know that messy play and exploration is fabulous for her development – and it’s lots of fun for her!
However, I am SO not a fan of cleaning up the mess.
So I’ve found a few ways to keep the mess contained without stealing all the fun!
Take it outside – This may seem obvious, but messy play is a great opportunity to play outside. Depending on what the play is, you can just sweep or hose the mess away.
Bring in the kiddie pool – I got a small size kiddie pool for just a few bucks, and I keep it easily accessible to bring into my living room for sensory play. My toddler is free to pour, dump, and explore messy sensory materials like rice, beans, or water beads and when the fun is over, I simply pour the materials from the pool back into the storage container. It took a bit of training to learn that the materials have to stay in the pool, but once we got past that initial stage, I barely even have to remind her. (I started with something harmlessly messy, like puff balls or shredded paper to learn those lessons!)
Keep the wipes nearby – I’ve found that things go much better if I have a plan for clean up before we even start playing. I have baby wipes stored pretty much in every room of my house, so I just keep a few nearby so that sticky, messy hands don’t have as much opportunity to find their way onto my curtains!
Homemade Paint Shirt – Using one of Daddy’s old tshirts and some leftover ribbon, we made a homemade paint shirt by tying up the sleeves at the shoulders. My daughter think’s its great to wear Daddy’s shirt and she is covered from whatever mess we may make!
Cover the floor – An inexpensive vinyl table cloth makes a great floor cover for messy play. I got mine on clearance a few years back and simply put it under my daughter’s table when our fun will get messy. When the fun is over, I simply roll up the mess, brush it into the trash or outside, and store the tablecloth for the next time.
Let them help – I’m pretty sure that my toddler enjoys washing the table after painting as much as the painting itself! She can also help pick up beans or other sensory play items from the floor and pour sensory materials back into their storage container. Yes, the job still needs some work when she’s done, but it gives her a sense of responsibility and helps her learn these important life skills.
So go ahead – let your little one get messy while your house stays reasonably clean!
Written by Alicia