I love messy play and crafting with my kids but I don’t do messy, which makes things a little tricky. Little hands covered in dripping, droopy, gloopy messiness….in my house….with 15 ft of carpet and white walls between them and the bathroom…….this is the stuff of nightmares!
I have to make sure I take plenty of deep breaths and remember to tidy up afterwards so that the experience is still enjoyable for everyone!
I had a lovely email last week from a mum who thought that my house was full of crafts from morning till night! I feel the need to put the record straight – this is completely not the case at all! I’ll admit, there is rarely a day that goes by without my two year old little Miss O, asking “to do some making” but sometimes I am just not in the mood for mess and so I have a few ‘less messy’ play options available.
I’m sure that you’ll know many of these tips but just in case they’re useful, here are my top ten tips for coping with the mess in messy play….
1. Wherever and whenever you can…..do messy play outside. Try taking it to the park with some friends, take it out onto the streets outside your house or even a field or beach!
2. Try using a builder’s tray. These beauties are worth the purchase…….use them inside, use them outside, they manage to contain the mess. Squirt down with a hose for minimal clear up.
3. Put down catering banqueting paper underneath the craft table. Anything can fall onto it and then you simply scoop up the paper and throw away. Try Ebay for good deals on a whole banqueting roll. (For a more environmentally friendly option, try a plastic sheet.)
4. Use old duvet covers and towels for mop ups and clear ups. They can easily be put in the washing machine. For aprons – I find IKEA does the best complete cover up aprons, I have also been known to put my toddler in a splash-suit for painting!
5. Use old packaging to contain the mess that can be thrown away afterwards. We use glue on paper plates, for example. Instead of paint pots – use an egg box.
6. Use polystyrene trays for finger painting, it absorbs some of the extra liquid.
7. Some messy play and craft activities can be done in a paddling pool! (Blown up of course but without water in!) Just be careful as this can obviously become very slippy.
8. Similar to above but machine washable shower curtains are also perfect for playing with bubbles, shaving foam etc….
9. Teach children to clear up themselves. Make it fun, put on a song and see how quickly they can tidy up!
10. And for washing messy children – try a bucket in the garden!
And for days when you just need something to keep them busy which doesn’t make any more mess for you, try Aquadoodles which are great for children to have some crafting time without any tidying up whatsoever! They just need water.
Likewise, play-doh is generally good for a minimal tidy-up. We often use sticky back plastic for making collages and pictures without any need for glue! You can just stick it to a table or a window and give children some tissue paper, buttons – anything really and they can stick to their heart’s content.
What about you? What are your best ways for keeping the mess at bay when crafting with little ones? I’d love to hear some more suggestions!