Indoor messy play doesn’t need to mean the destruction of your house!
We all know and love the fact that messy play is such a great way for our kids to learn. But isn’t it true that the most relaxed mum on earth can freak out at the sight of a 3 year old thundering through the house with a loaded paintbrush?
With some smart steps (and a small amount of military-style planning) you can contain the chaos while maintaining the fun. So with mid-winter school holidays looming we thought we would share some smart ideas to prepare your house for indoor messy play.
Tips and Tricks for Indoor Messy Play
1. Plan your activities in advance
Kids can be at their most destructive when they catch you unawares. Plan out what activity you are going to set up for them and exactly how it’s going to work. Choose the best place for the play to happen – i.e. non-carpeted surfaces for paint play.
You can make sure everything that’s needed is ready, and that there is minimum movement out of the play zone until play is complete. Factor in toilet trips, food breaks and nappy changes as they’re bound to happen.
2. Work in worst case scenarios
We might hope the paint stays in the pots but inevitably it will end up tipped over. Once you’ve chosen the location you need to plan in worst case scenarios. If they spill the paint all over the floor how will you cope? What are they going to glue? How will you remove play dough from the carpet?
If necessary take defensive action and cover floors and tables in plastic sheeting. Check out our new Fitted Tablecloths as a great tool for protecting your tabletops (and for making clean up easier and quicker). Your local hardware store or garden centre will sell plastic sheeting by the metre that you can use to protect your carpets and wooden floors, or use an old sheet or tablecloth.
3. Create simple rules
Kindy, Playcentre, Day Care and School all have simple rules for kids to follow so they understand what they can and can’t do. Keep them simple and work out what will be the most effective guides to put in place.
We like these simple rules.
- Paint is for paper (unless mummy and daddy say otherwise) and brushes go back in pots
- Stickers do not go on furniture, walls or floors
- We all tidy up together
4. Tidy up together!
Tidying up is a chore for us but it can be almost as much fun as the play activity for your kids. Work on the assumption that the more you involve them in it, the greater the entertainment. Choose some good music to tidy up to and try dancing while you tidy – you might even discover you’re enjoying it.
5. Rewards are awesome!
Now your messy play activity is complete, you’ve tidied up and you’re ready to move onto the next activity. It’s a great time to stop, tell your kids what a great job they’ve done in playing and creating so nicely, and share a reward.
Messy play in bad weather usually means inviting the chaos into your house. But remember that kids love to go outside and play in any weather. Simply rug them up in plenty of layers and slip their Mud Mates on over the top. They’ll run around happily and have plenty of fun outside: at least until you’ve finished your cup of tea!
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