Getting messy is vital to healthy child development. A romp through some muddy puddles provides an opportunity for sensory integration, language development, healthy risk taking, cause and effect, fine and gross motor skills, and much more. As the weather gets colder, and we can’t take the mess outside, I want to make sure you feel prepared to get messy inside AND deal with the aftermath. I know, I know, getting messy inside is well….…..messy! But It’s worth it.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your sanity while allowing indoor messy play. 

1. Get yourself a huge sheet or a reusable drop cloth. It catches the mess, but more importantly, it provides a physical boundary. You will often hear me telling my children that they can get as messy as they want as long as they STAY ON THE DROP CLOTH. 

2. Have a game plan for when the play is over. I keep an empty bucket nearby to collect any dirty materials, cups, mixing spoons etc. They all go into the bucket with warm, soapy water to be dealt with later. 

3. Have a plan of attack for the laundry…. We have a collection of play clothes designated just for messy play. Having a set of clothes that you are not worried about, frees you and your children from cringing when that first splatter lands. When I tell the children to go change into play clothes, they KNOW something good is about to happen. We keep a large laundry bin next to our play area so that when the play is winding down, the children can strip off their dirties ON the drop cloth, eliminating a trail of mess leading to the bathroom. 

4. Stay nearby to supervise, but try to let your kids do their own thing and really get in the zone. Try hard not to act anxious about the mess. Kids read our cues!

5. Keep the mess within YOUR comfort zone. They only way you are going to get in the habit of allowing messy play is if YOU are comfortable with it. Here’s a language tip: “When you stay on the drop cloth/ help with cleanup/ follow the rules, it makes me want to say yes next time we want to do messy play! “

Obviously, you don’t have to bring in a giant tub of mud! Just a little paint or clay will do!

So, tell me…Do you allow indoor messy play at your house? 

I hope you found this post helpful.  If you want to hear more from me, please be sure to subscribe to my blog and join the conversation over on Instagram.  

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