Sunday, 16 February 2014

Messy Play for Wimps: 5 Ideas

If you've read any of my previous posts about messy play you'll know I'm a bit of a wuss about it. I don't like mess. Despite being the world's worst housewife, I really, really dislike mess.

The trouble is, toddlers do like mess. In fact, toddlers need mess. It's how they learn.

So I'm trying hard to push my own boundaries and allow Eleanor the messy play opportunities she needs. It's baby steps at the moment, but we're getting there.

This is a post for all the other messy-play-phobes out there. To help you dip your toe in the messy water, here are some simple ideas that create a fairly manageable level of mess:

1. Cold spaghetti

I blogged about this a while back. This activity is great if, like me, you're too disorganised to prep activities in advance and also suck at portion control. Make more spaghetti than you need for dinner one night, stick the surplus in cold water to stop it going gloopy or sticky, then whack it in a bowl and let your kid mess about with it. This would be a good one to do with babies (obviously past 6 months) as then they'd be less able to spread it across the floor and stamp on it. If you're doing it with a toddler, you'll probably need to mop up afterwards, but it's not horrendously messy.

2. Playdough

Eleanor's favourite phrase at the moment is, "Want to pay with paydough!" Again, this is a good one for disorganised people - as long as you've got a pot of playdough and some cutters knocking about you're good to go. It's a bit messy if it gets stuck to clothes or, worse still, carpet - which is why we only play with it in the kitchen. But other than that, it's pretty quick to clear up. You can even make your own playdough, but ... y'know ... organisation ... I'll do it one day ... honest ...

3. Chalks on the patio

Or on the drive ... or the street if your neighbours are a friendly bunch. Perfect messy play for wimps - zero preparation, and all you need to do is wash your little one's hands afterwards. The rain will take care of the rest!

4. Bath paints

OK, I'll admit it. I haven't actually done this one yet. But it's one I definitely want to try out in the summer when it's not too cold to stay in water for ages. It sounds great - your kid gets to make a mess, but it's all contained and you can quickly wash it off with the bath water or a shower afterwards. You can buy bath paints or make them - here's one recipe but there are loads out there.

5. And if all else fails ... playgroups!

Playgroups are fab. Many have an element of craft or messy play, which the people running the group set up and then clear away afterwards. Your only responsibility is to clean your own kid up. The picture above is of Eleanor after playing on a table covered in shaving foam. She loved it. I wouldn't want to do it at home. We're both winners!

So there are five ideas to get you going. If you have any other wimpy messy play ideas do leave a comment. Because if you don't I'll have to move onto the proper stuff. And I'm not sure I'm ready ...


  1. Great ideas for messy play. You're right messy play is important and it's good to find ones you are comfortable with for best results and fun all round :)
    Thanks for sharing #LetKidsBeKids

    1. Thanks! I'm so not a natural with messy play (can you tell?!) so hopefully this will help other people take the plunge and try things out. I am getting less uptight the more I do it, although it may not always seem like that!