Messy Play

Posted on Jan 18, 2011 by 4 Comments
Messy Play

Do you know what makes me cringe sometimes? Seeing each and every toy we own strewn about the house. I go from room to room, thinking a) why on earth do we have so many toys and b) can’t my child just be neat? Only, my dirty little secret is that I, myself, am SOOOOOO not neat. That’s probably why I hate it when I have to pick up after my eldest daughter over and over and over again.

But, isn’t that her right as a three-year-old kid? To make a huge mess and let her imagination explode with the possibilities? Who says that being neat and contained is better?

Honestly, it makes me a little scared when my kiddo gets all messy. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s just that I know I have a finite amount of energy and looking at all that mess makes my fuel tank quickly empty. Sometimes, even in the bathroom, I don’t give her all the bath toys because I am just too tired to pick them all up afterward. How ridiculous is that? I mean, they are just bath toys for heaven’s sake!

So, I’ve been trying to turn over a new leaf and let my little one take charge of her play time. If she wants to fill the bath with so many water things (this includes tupperware, pots and pans from her toy kitchen, and even my husband’s shoe horn) then far be it from me to deny her. Again, they are just bath toys. Now, I aks for her help to tidy up before we get out sometimes, but other times I just spend a few more minutes doing it myself.

If she wants to paint on her easel, then I’ll put a smock on her and get the paper towels ready. Sure, it means that I’m more involved with her play, too, because messier means more chance to get hurt or hurt the house, but then again, I signed on to be an at-home with my kids and this is my primary job. Weird to look at it that way, but it’s true.

Speaking of cringing, I just cringed a bit when I wrote that messier means I’m more involved with play time. Am I not involved with playtime? Funny how writing sometimes illuminates things that you know you are thinking about.

Maybe that’s what this all boils down to. Moms are busier, dads are busier. So, we multi-task. Enter the electronics. Occupied kids, a little quiet time to get the chores done…I can totally see it. But I don’t want it.

Since all life is perception, then maybe I can change my mindset from messy equals work to messy equals fun. Hmm, think it’ll work?

photo credit: SwedishCarina

Posted in: Parenting

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  • Penny W.

    “I signed on to be an at-home with my kids and this is my primary job. Weird to look at it that way, but it’s true.”

    This is not weird at all. Why would you think that? You are right on.

    Messes come with the territory. Try and teach your child to agree before playing that they will be responsible for helping clean up afterwards, then let them play as they like.

    Of course we’d love it if they would play with just one thing at a time, but that doesn’t happen too often. Better to set a time limit (“you can play for two hours in the family room, but at 3 pm you have to help Mommy tidy up and put all the toys back, deal?”) and get them to agree before letting them loose. It doesn’t always work, but you’ll be pleased when it does!

  • Jenny L

    I put away an hour a day for cleaning and tidying. Is that crazy? i find that like that i dont go crazy when my kids are having fun. While i clean, i chat with friends on the phone, who are doing the same thing.

  • TamSam

    I loved this post!

    I am not a mom yet (hope to be soon), but I hate to see my house a mess. I was worried I’d be a stuffy, boring mommy :). But this approach seems reasonable and fun. I think every child needs to learn that cleaning up after yourself is a part of life.. and the sooner they learn, the better. But that shouldn’t impede on childhood. Thanks for the perspective, and a little bit of hope!

  • Kate

    Thanks so much! Good luck on the soon to be mommy hood. it’s a truly great “club” to join, with many members and loads of help. If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that there is tons of hope that you can have the house you want AND have kids. I (mostly) do. I’ve also learned that I don’t quite know as much as I think I do about any given situation until I’m either in it or past it…and then I realize that I don’t know squat. But, hey, that’s true of life, in general, isn’t it?