As much as I want to say I love Messy Play, there really is nothing worse than thinking of a kid getting all mucky and me having to clean them up. Truth be told, I avoid activities like painting, and playing in the mud, for that very reason.
But after a little research, which I’ll share with you below, I’ve come to realise that messy play is ok, and with a little help along the way, we can all learn to embrace it.
All About Messy Play …
Firstly, when I think of messy play, I think of an untidy, disorganised mess, which inevitably I’ll have to clean up. In the house AND on their clothes. Coming to grips with letting your child play like this can go against all instincts, especially if you’re like me and always say “just don’t make a mess!”.
Messy play is for mucking in. For letting your child get their hands dirty and experiment with the activity. Messy play is a great way for kids to develop their find motor skills – the squishing and squeezing can help develop pre-writing skills. Any pouring, measuring, mixing, or scooping actions can help develop hand-eye coordination.
It can challenge them mentally, making them think of solutions to an issue within the activity: What can I do with this? Does it pour into something? Can I fit it in here? What does it taste like?
Messy play is about so much more than getting dirty or messy. It’s about exploring what’s in front of them, and allowing them to use their entire being to do so. It allows them to use all senses to experience it – which is truly amazing.
Dealing With The Mess …
As I said above, one of the things that holds me back from allowing my child to partake in messy play, is the MESSY part.
I’m here to tell you that sometimes you have to suck it up; and don’t worry – I’ve got some tips below for helping to deal with the mess.
1. USE A MAT
Whenever I create a messy play activity, I always put down some kind of towel, or picnic rug, or even a large mat of some kind – this way 90% of the activity is contained to this area. I want to say 100% but we all know kids get it EVERYWHERE.
2. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Even putting your child into a sea-shell shaped sandpit / paddling pool (empty) and then fill it with the activity, can be a wonderful way for your child to play, whilst minimising mess outside. Even a bucket to contain the mess is a good idea.
3. THINK AHEAD
When planning your messy play activity, think ahead to what “might happen”. Will water get everywhere? Are their clothes going to get paint all over them? Are they going to get covered in mud? If you think ahead, then you can plan. Perhaps put your child in older clothes – or as you will see below, have a plan for stain removal.
4. STAIN REMOVAL
Don’t panic – paint DOES come out of clothes. Mud WILL wash away. Pen comes out. You just have to know the right way to do it.
Even though I’m not a fan of messy play, it doesn’t mean it never happens. I also happen to be quite the expert at getting stains out of clothes, so want to let you know what works for me:
The Rub & Soak: this method I personally prefer. I spray a couple of sprays of Sard Power Stain Remover 2 in 1 Foam & Spray, rub it into the stain. After about a minute of this, I fill a bucket with hot water and a cap full of Sard Power Stain Remover powder and add the stained clothes to it. The next morning, I empty the bucket and pop the clothes through the normal wash.
Depending on the type of stain (e.g. blood), I may let the pre-treater (the Sard Power Stain Remover spray) sit on the clothes for a little longer before soaking in the bucket.
This is something I’ve done for YEARS with tomato sauce stains, grass stains and even blood. It also works on cloth nappies – which we’ve had in our house for 4 years STRAIGHT!
If you’re ever after more ideas on how to get stains out, check out the great Stain Guide over on the Sard website.
After The Mess
RELAX! Everything can be tidied up. Messes can be cleaned – as I’ve showed you above, even the smallest of stains can come out easy enough.
Thank you so much to Sard for making this post possible, and helping me keep my kids clothes clean after a mammoth messy play activity.