TOP TIPS TO ENJOY MESSY PLAY AT HOME
Kids need to explore, investigate, mix, create and figure things out in order to learn. When all this is done through play, the experience turns really smoothly into knowledge. Messy play is the best way to achieve that. It allows kids to freely explore what is there and learn from it.
But I understand messy play can get a little bit crazy, especially at home, and this can put you off creating messy experiences. While messy play will always be messy play no matter how careful you are, here are some tips that will help you have a much quicker cleanup and a more enjoyable experience.
1. COVER THE FLOOR
If you use a box, a tray, a towel, paper, a table cloth, etc. and place all the items on it, it will save the floor from getting messy and things going everywhere. If kids see the limits of the space that is provided for them to play, it’s more likely to be kept within those borders. There is no guarantee that it will be kept there but it will definitely help to avoid spreading it all over the floor.
2. TOWELS FOR WATER AND FLOUR
If you use water or flour, use towels underneath. Place the box or tray on top of the towels. They will absorb the liquid or powder before it gets to the floor and spreads so it will prevent a much bigger mess. You can just throw the towels in the washing machine right after and the floor will be clean straight away.
3. LET GLOOP DRY
If you make gloop with cornflour and water, let it dry and scrap it into the bin. If you pour it all into the sink it might block it. Use a plastic cup opposite down to push the gloop towards the corner of the tray or box and into the bin. Use a wet cloth to get rid of any gloop stuck anywhere.
4. USE WATER BASED PAINT
Do not use any other type of paint with kids. Water based paint will wash off most surfaces (even some fabric too) with just a damp cloth so don’t panic if they paint outside the paper on the table or floor. Just stay calm and ask them to keep it on the paper. If they see you getting stressed about it they will probably either find it funny and make it worse or just hate the experience and walk away. The younger the kids, the bigger the paper! Use wrapping paper or old wall paper to paint on it as it won’t let the paint get through when it’s too wet.
5. STAY CLOSE.
I know this is quite obvious, but just a reminder. If you engage with the activity it’s more likely that they will play with it for longer and the benefits will increase as it also creates communication. Kids usually start exploring slowly and, as they get more confident, the mess gets bigger. Stay close and suggest new alternatives. You can let them take part of the cleanup by asking them to bring the toys to wherever you are going to wash them. If they are playing with dry items like rice or pasta, ask them to put it all back into a container. If you prefer to do it yourself, give them another calm activity to do such as Lego, colouring, or even just watching TV until the place is clean. It is very important that you don’t get stressed out about the cleanup or you will never want to do it again, so do whatever makes it easier for you.
6. USE THE SHOWER OR BATH FOR THE CLEANUP
It is so much easier to wash everything in the shower or bath as you can move the water with more pressure around and clean all the toys quicker. Put a towel on the floor and let the toys dry there overnight if you don’t have time to dry them with a towel. You can also use the dishwasher or the sink for smaller items and hot water always works best. You can always make the messy play time last less and ask them to wash it in the sink as part of the game. They will love that if they are not too tired for it!