I’m the kind of mom who loves when her kids get messy. I know that may seem weird, but it’s just kind of my thing. I’ve found that if I’m prepared, it’s actually easier for me to engage with my kids in these activities than imaginative play. They also love getting messy and it’s easier to clean up (most of the time) than getting out a ton of toys. It’s important to be prepared for clean up before you start. Here’s what I like to have on hand:
- Baby Wipes
- Paper Towels
- Rags that can be thrown out
- Craft Mat (fancy name for a cheap shower curtain liner, plastic table cover, old bed sheet, etc)
- Child wearing only what you are okay with getting ruined
That’s right. Just water and dirt. My kids know that if they want to be in the mud, they need to be only in their underwear/diaper. They turn on the hose and just go to town. It’s amazing the things they come up with. They have outside toys (either cheap ones from Goodwill or old toys they stopped playing with inside). They also know that they need to rinse off in the hose outside and/or jump right into the bath when they’re done (depending on how messy they are).
I get the foamy kind and have found that it’s cheaper at the grocery store (more bang for your buck) than the dollar store. You can put this in slime, the mud, on the windows…it’s great in all the places! Again, this is an outside activity that they know they need to take off their clothes for. They love putting it on our windows and drawing with it. A lot of times I squeeze it all out in a container they use for outside activities only. Once they’re done playing with it they clean it up themselves with the hose (another fun activity!). They can use sponges (that I got at the dollar store) or just use the hose. It cleans off of windows and things surprisingly well.
My favorite is the store bought stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE making slime. I have 2 gallons of Elmer’s glue in my craft closet specifically for making slime. I feel like the store bought stuff is just more stretchy and stays less sticky. It also seems to last longer. Slime activities are best enjoyed in either clothes you don’t care about or just underwear/diaper…just in case. I also prefer slime to play dough and kinetic sand because I feel like it’s easier to clean up since it sticks together so well. My boys find toys they want to play with in their slime, sit on the craft mat or at the table, and can play anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour! I don’t mind if it’s short lived because it’s typically super easy to clean up. Plus, a lot of times they come back to it later in the day.
NOTE: My 2 year old sometimes likes to put slime in his hair. I make it seem like no big deal (to try to prove that it’s not a fun part of playing with slime ), get out some coconut oil (or any type of oil), put it on the slime, and slide it right off. That easy.
I have lots of other favorite messy activities, but these are the ones we come back to the most often. I have found that most people dread messy activities not because of the mess itself, but the clean up. The more relaxed you can make yourself, the more fun you and your child will have! Get out all the things you need to clean up your children and the area before they start the activity. It’s also helpful to have a designated spot for all the items that need to be cleaned. When I prepare, I find that the clean up takes a matter of a couple of minutes, which way less than cleaning up tons of toys. Messy activities are such great sensory experiences for littles. They help with brain development, teach about different textures, and are so much fun. Set yourself up for success and allow yourself to enjoy some messy fun with your child every once in awhile!
I would love to hear about your favorite messy activities in the comments below!