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Why Mess is Best

Parents! I am writing this article mainly to persuade you to embrace the mess. Our modern lives can be chaotic: full-time work, chores, play dates, extra curricular activities. We humans are time poor: all of this can mean that additional, purposeful mess can be extremely unappealing!

BUT, I implore you to give in to your inner child and celebrate creative mess making  with your kiddos. In our household, at least twice a week, we give in to the gloriousness of creative play. We use paint, flour, rice, grains, sand and water (although not all at once!) to explore the senses through play*.

Sensory play is beneficial for your child’s development. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It helps to boost brain development via the nerve connections.
  • It boosts language skills, cognitive function, problem solving skills and social interaction.
  • It helps children to explore the world around them.
  • It stimulates the core senses.
  • It helps with development of both fine and gross motor skills.
  • It can help to calm anxious children.
  • It enhances memory function.

But if the mess makes you stress, here’s some advice:

  • Start off small. Don’t attempt a grand ambitious project if this is your first time with messy play. For example, try finger/ hand painting in the confines of the highchair.
  • Go outdoors if the weather allows.
  • ️ Choose the kitchen or bathroom for activities so you are close to the sink!
  • ️Always keep baby wipes on hand for the initial clean up – they are magic!
  • ️Invest in a giant paint tray/ tuff spot tray or use plastic sheeting to catch any spills
  • ️Close any doors to avoid an escapee (I speak from experience here! )
  • ️Choose old clothes or just a nappy if the weather is warm – the nappy is for the toddler, obviously not yourself!
  • ️If in doubt, use washable non-toxic paint and ‘taste-safe’ items

Some ideas to try:

Whipped cream and food dye…

messy art 5.jpg

Tip: put the mixture into muffin tins so that its more contained. This is a great one for younger ones to try!

Shaving foam and food dye…

messy art

Tip: the less food dye you use, the easier it comes off the skin!

Liquid watercolours and pipettes…


Tip: Use only a tiny amount of watercolours to water if you’re worried about the clean up!

Items from the kitchen…

small world 3


Tip: Use unwanted items rather than making a special trip to the supermarket. Click here for more food-based play ideas. 

Printing with food…

food or messy art.jpg

Tip: use up old fruit or vegetables by turning them into a stamper. This print was created using orange halves. 

Craft materials…

craft materials.jpg

Tip: use older craft materials (such as the shredded tinsel shown here) and give them a new lease of life!

Paint with leaves…

autumn painting 2.jpg

Tip: both leaves and feathers make for great painting tools!

Get wet…

ocean 4.jpg

Tip: whilst this is the easiest to try, stick to outdoors or even the bath/ sink to minimise mess!


Happy playing!

Sian x

*Note: It goes without saying, but please make sure your child is developmentally ready before trying these ideas! Don’t use small objects if they have a tendency to put everything in their mouths and never ever leave your child unsupervised whilst they play!




Posted on 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “Why Mess is Best

  1. […] you stress about the mess, check out this blog post […]

  2. […] For more reasons on why you should embrace the mess, check out the blog post ‘Why Mess is Best.’ […]

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