How do you feel about creative mess? Does it scare you? Do you avoid letting your little ones create because you find the mess overwhelming? Good news… I am going to share some tips to help you prepare creative experiences that will have you managing the mess and wanting to do it all again!
I wasn’t always so keen to get messy with my little ones. I like the feeling of things being clean, and mess can make me feel uncomfortable. But at the same time, I totally knew the benefits of getting creative and why I really should provide creative experiences for my little ones. So, I started to find ways to control and clean away mess, that didn’t leave me feeling like I was never going to get the crafts out again.
One of my biggest tips is being prepared! Both preparing yourself and your designated play area for the impending messy session. If you tell yourself there will be mess and organise ways to manage it before you begin, then you naturally handle the mess better.
Before you start getting creative, get all of the clean up supplies ready to go. This will help avoid any panic when a little one escapes covered in paint! I like to have a few old towels, a soapy bucket of water and some cloths on hand during our session. This allows me to wipe away any spills or clean hands throughout the session to limit the overall mess at the end.
Remember that creative activities don’t need to be done inside. If you have the opportunity, head outside to do the messy crafts and keep the necessary clean up tools on hand (remember those towels, soapy water and cloths?). If getting outside just isn’t feasible, then use trays and messy mats inside to help contain the mess. Use an old large sheet under these as backup — the sheet will contain most of the excess mess and once finished you can bundle it up and take it outside to shake off and then wash, ready for the next crafty experience.
If you have a little one that is inquisitive or easily overwhelmed, try limiting the amount of materials they have access to in the session. This doesn’t mean you need to limit how often your little ones can create. The less they have access to, the less mess they will create. Remember, just because you have limited the materials, this doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying the same benefits of the creative process.
One handy tip most will already know when it comes to keeping your little ones mess-free, is to use old clothes, or painting clothes worn directly over the outfit you want to keep clean – just ensure the paint clothes provide adequate coverage and are easily removed. This means after the crafting session, you simply need to take the paint clothes off and your little one is ready to continue playing, leaving you a small window to tidy away the rest of the mess. If the weather is warm enough (and there is enough shade) then you could even go without clothes.
Lastly, my favourite tip: create alongside your little ones! Not only are you right there to guide and remind your little one about using the craft supplies but you are enjoying the benefits of creativity too. This also works wonders for little ones who are not sure about creating and need some motivation. They will see you experimenting, making mess and creating and in turn it will inspire and encourage them to give it a try too.
I hope you find these tips useful and they have inspired you to get creative with your little ones today. What are your top tips for those who want to get creative but are worried about the mess?
Forever playing & learning,
Learning at Heart was created by teacher and mum Nelly, after looking for ways to continue her love of play and learning whilst on maternity leave. Nelly is passionate about ensuring little ones find the joy and love of learning, in their own time. This has led her to truly appreciate child led play and learning which involves following the interests of her children. You’ll find her sharing fun play and learning experiences on Instagram, the Learning at Heart website, Facebook and Pinterest.