Messy Play - Survival Tipsby Emma Longden
Messy Play Survival Tips
Messy play. Amazing for a young child’s development. Brilliant at encouraging them to get hands-on and explore different textures. Perfect for nurturing creativity. Not so great for parents who have an aversion to getting dirty. My youngest and I have been heading to a local messy play session every week during term times for the past year and, although I am one of those mums who hate getting their hands dirty, I know how much fun my son has during the sessions, and can see how much he has gotten out of it. Here are my survival tips for parents attending messy play for the first time.
Stay Away from White Clothing
I cannot stress this enough. Do not put your child in white clothing. Do not put yourself in white clothing, in fact, it’s best to steer clear from anything even remotely pale or pastel, as it will end up getting paint or foam or some other substance on it. Stick to dark colours, and don’t wear anything brand new. Once at the session, strip off shoes, socks and any outer layers - I have seen younger children in just a t-shirt and nappies and this is perfect for minimising washing after a session.
Bring a bag with you. Fill it with wipes, a towel and spare clothing. Trust me. Our messy play session provides buckets of water at the end, which is great for getting the majority of the paint etc off before it is transferred to the car, but it is always advisable to take spare clothing in case your child decides to sit in a tray of that bath goo. I speak from experience.
You Will Get Messy
Perhaps an obvious one, and arguably not a tip, but mentally it is worth preparing yourself for getting messy. Yes, even if you aren’t planning on getting hands-on with your child, even if your child doesn’t actually get that messy. At some point, that extra paint-covered baby toddling around the class is going to come and put their hands on you, and it is best to go into things knowing this. The other day my son decided to clap his hands whilst holding foam. It went everywhere. Including my friend’s hair. Yep.
A slightly controversial one, as I know some parents prefer to be in the moment during classes, and I know it is always important not to get other children in any photos at public sessions, however, I would suggest taking a few pictures of what your child has been up to. These don’t have to have anybody else in them, but it is nice to be able to show family members what they have been doing and often you don’t have anything tangible to take away with you from a messy play session, so it gives you a memento to look back on.
I know this isn’t that easy. In fact, I have always struggled to make friends with other parents in the past, but I am so grateful to my friend for striking up a conversation with me during a messy play session as it is so much nicer to experience a class with a
likeminded mum rather than on your own. Plus you can catch up on your week whilst playing with play-dough and watching your children get gradually more and more messy - what’s not to love?