Messy Play is the Way

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

We all know that having children means a mess everywhere. Mess in the kitchen, mess in the toy room, mess in their bedroom. But did you ever stop to consider that messy play can actually benefit them? Yup, you heard me. Let me explain why messy play is the way.

Purposeful Mess Making

I am not talking about just a huge pile of toys all over your house. While that can be fun once in a while, that is not the type of mess I am recommending. I am talking about purposeful mess. This can be done with beautifully made sensory tables or even with a large plastic storage bin. Find a space (preferably outdoors near a water source) and let them be free. There are endless ways to create an inviting space that will encourage mess making. The kind of mess making that creates oodles and oodles of learning.

Over the years I have learned to relax a lot when it comes to having it clean and perfect all the time. If you know me at all you know that I do love a clean house. Sometimes I can still feel the anxiety creeping in when I notice the house getting dirty. But one thing that I gave up on was outdoor time and messes. Our deck has become our go to place. This is where I set up if I just really need a moment to chill. I pull out some quick, easy, and cheap materials and let them go ahead and do whatever with it. As long as they are not eating it or hurting each other, I try to let them lead the way. I know it might seem overwhelming at first. It took me a while to get here, remember? It can be a bit hard to sit back and let it happen. But if you have a hose close by, the clean up is pretty simple too. Plus you might even get 20-30 minutes of time for yourself.

Why is it beneficial?

When your kids are given the chance to touch and really examine materials, their tiny brains make tons of connections. They notice the smell, the way something is hard and something is squishy. They learn to be comfortable dirty and move their bodies in new ways. They get creative in how much mess they can actually make. They experiment with trial and error. And wait for the smiles - that is the best part. They find it to be so exciting and fun when mom lets them get crazy! It is also great for you too! You can sit back with some coffee (or wine) and just watch them go.


Here is what I always have in stock:

-chalk (get creative here - you can get it wet, break it small, put it in paint)


-shaving cream

-baby soap

-water beads

-washable paint

-baking soda and vinegar

-bowls and cups

-plastic containers

-cars & animals that can get wet


-food coloring

-squirt bottles

Try it!

I encourage you to give this a go! Today I put some animals on a tray and covered them with shaving cream. I filled up our water table and splashed some food coloring in the water. My 3 year old played for about 45 minutes and our neighbor joined for the last 30. The only interacting I had to do was re-fill water containers and then hose everything down at the end. Pretty successful and easy! Plus a much earned break for me. Who is with me!?

If you get the courage to try a new way of mess making - tag me! #teachmylittles

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