Lax Toddler Parenting #8: Messy Play

I’ll let you into a secret. I hate messy play. I hate sticking stuff with little kids who get bored quickly. I hate painting that is mostly gloop and soggy paper. I HATE setting up stuff that they do for a while, chuck everywhere and then I have to clear up. It may be partly because we lived in rented houses for a long time and then when we did buy a house, it was brand new, clean and very beige but mostly I think it is because I’m very lazy, I hate cleaning and I don’t really like doing the messy stuff alongside them. I’d love to be like Jennie, who seems to effortlessly create messy play opportunities but I’m just not. And I’m definitely not like most of the Pin-stagramming-mummy bloggers who are wildly making amazing creative opportunities like this for their kids. I love Pinning them, but I don’t really want to DO them!

Plus, I have a horrible feeling that once I was terribly right on about all that stuff (it’s probably in the archives) and got bored. Rather like the oh so very encompassing Tudor home ed project that frankly broke me to the point that no ever home learning was ever good enough again.

But Bene does love his cars and always does the messy play at nursery and so I thought I should be a bit more relaxed. After all, the dining room needs hoovering anyway.

I’ve also been mulling this article. I’ve got mixed feelings about it to be honest, not least because it seems to be making a lot of young mums (and young mum can at times equal isolated mum) feel awfully guilty. I learned this lesson a good while ago – I remember having a day when I just knew I had looked at a screen more than I had at the girls and that was before smart phones. It took me probably 5 years to fully cure myself of it, by which time they’d begun to start school. And I certainly have hours (days?) when I do it still but Max and I promised ourselves we’d be more engaged after an event 7 years ago and we promised it even harder after Freddie. To be honest though, a mum with an iphone takes pictures, is connected to ideas and laughter and hopefully less isolated – as part of a good balance, I don’t see the problem. The problem is when you ignore your kids, opportunities for fun, friendship, creativity or conversation or joy in order to stare at a screen. Long term, that won’t help. Feeling guilty because you multi-task? Not so much. Lots of kids spend all day in school or daycare and won’t get 100% attention at the end of that either. I know mine don’t – so I’m not going to feel guilty for the days when external contact kept me breathing and put a smile on my face.

It’s all about balance.

And my carpet.

I REALLY hate sitting on the floor and doing messy play.

But we did it.

Being a good #messyplay mummy and trying @Ina ginationtree's cloud dough with glitter.

This is cloud dough a la The Imagination Tree (7 parts flour to 1 of vegetable oil) and then I sprinkled glitter from an old Djeco glitter kit into it, stuck it in a baking tray and found the diggers that granny bought him. LOTS of fun. I got the digger idea from Lazy Seamstress.

What did I learn? He, like half his sisters, mostly only wants to play with things if I sit there. So I did. Oh – and putting down fleece to catch the spills was no intelligent; use something it will brush back out of.


Was fun though :)

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  1. says

    I don’t like messy play either. I can can handle it outside, but not in the house. We’re lucky to have a weekly playgroup where Cleo can do that and I don’t have to deal with the mess.

  2. says

    I have avoided that article you mention, just took a peek and it seems overly preachy to me. I don’t like being guilt tripped into anything, I don’t think anyone does. X

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