Being a crafty mama, people may assume I am open and ok with the mess that comes along with doing art, crafts, and sensory activities with my kids. I am here to tell you that I didn’t start out this way. I wanted to be the parent that didn’t have any markers on the walls or paint and glitter splattered on the floor. I always kept a close watch over my children as they did their arts and crafts, and made sure that messes were kept to a minimum. And when there was a mess made or a spill, my head would rotate around my shoulders and my hair would turn into snakes. Messes give me anxiety. I am not sure why because I am not an OCD type person. Maybe it’s because I was trying to avoid another mess on top of the everyday mess of things laying around the house or maybe I didn’t want things to be ruined with stains on clothes or furniture. Maybe I was just tired and tired of giving myself extra work. Who knows.
During my motherhood journey however, I began reading articles that preached how beneficial messes are for children and then came across a video clip about “Raising Curiosity,” and something clicked. I will always remember that video clip which featured Neil deGrasse Tyson (an astrophysicist, author, and science communicator) explaining that kids are sources of chaos and disorder, and they are experimenting with their environment. Everything is new to them. You don’t have kids with the intent of maintaining a clean house. He called it “non commensurate goals.” He also mentioned that when it comes to parenting, our task as parents is not necessarily instill curiosity in our kids, but to be sure you don’t squash what curiosity is already there.
I wanted to make a change.
I didn’t want to be so uptight. I didn’t want my kids to miss out on the tools they could gain with these types of experiences because of my own unwillingness of having to do extra work. I am not 100% where I need to be, but I have taken several steps into the right direction of letting my kids be kids when it comes to making a mess by implementing these guidelines for myself.
Remind Myself of the Benefits
Telling myself over and over again that messes are normal has helped me tremendously. It’s a normal stage in life and it won’t last forever. It’s a part of growing up and all kids for generations (including me) made messes. It’s good for kids to learn and explore. They are learning fine motor skills, discovering how things work, cause and effect, expressing themselves and it can help desensitize tactile experiences.
It’s OK to Say “No”
I am all about learning to embrace the mess, but there are just certain things I choose not to do at this point in time and THAT’S OK! You don’t have to do everything at once and open the flood gates. For me, two things I choose not to get involved in full force are slime and glitter. “It’s a no for now but not forever” is the mantra I like to use.
Take it Outside
This has been super helpful. If I know it’s going to be a big mess and I don’t want it in my house, we go outside with it. It makes clean up so much easier and it’s less you have to worry about. Plus, it helps me reach my goal of being more intentional of being outside more.
Take it Somewhere Else
There’s always the option of having a playdate with another mom friend that is willing to host and get a little messy or find a local art/painting class where you can do it there. You can also utilize things at home to help contain the mess by having them do the activity in a kiddie pool, a large cardboard box or even the bathtub. You still may have to clean up your child, but at least it will help minimize the mess in your house.
You Will Eventually Get Used To It
Just doing it. Eventually, the more I did it, the less and less it gave me those uneasy feelings of anxiety and I started to become more relaxed and more patient.
The joy it brings my kids is worth it. It’s not about me; it’s about them. I want my kids to be able to express themselves and discover and learn things while having fun and making memories together. There is a short time window when they are this little. Eventually, doing crafts and activities with mom won’t be as fun and cool. They will develop their own interests and hobbies and this will be a thing of the past.