I envy those carefree mothers who allow their kids the complete freedom to ‘express themselves’. They aren’t stifled by the need to be in complete control of their home or kids. Unfortunately, I’m the complete opposite and need to be in control of all things domestic. I seek out toys or activities that are tidy and can be stored neatly away. However, the ‘harsh’ reality is my kids enjoy and get the most benefit from things that contain glitter, glue, sand, paint, play-dough and other ‘messy substances’. Despite my displeasure, I know the ‘messy’ activities are excellent for developing my kids fine motor skills and imagination. So it isn’t fair of me to deny them these activities just because I don’t like the mess.
Establish a ‘organised chaos zone’ which allows your kids the freedom to ‘make a mess’.
For neat freaks like myself, it’s worth setting up a zone that localizes the mess. I call this the ‘organised chaos zone’ where anything goes. To demark this ‘mess zone’ you could tape off an area, lay down a big painter’s drop sheet or use newspaper. My ‘mess zone’ is the back deck.
I highly recommend keeping all messy activities away from carpet and bedrooms.
After establishing an area, communicate the rules to your kids. There is no point in telling them ‘try not to make a mess’ as this defeats the purpose of the ‘chaos zone’. Encourage them to respect each others space and stay in the designated zone. The idea is for you to monitor the activity but not to micro-manage it. Allow them the pleasure of getting messy and the chance to explore their imaginations.
Take a deep breath and focus on your kids laughter, not the mess.
On completion of the activity, have your kids participate in the clean up. Your kids involvement teaches them the responsibility of cleaning up after themselves and that you aren’t the family maid. Store the materials away and discuss with your kids what they enjoyed about the activity. From this conversation encourage your kids to identify future activities they would like to explore.
Your kids have the capacity to explore and image amazing things.
Even if you are a ‘neat freak’ mother you shouldn’t hinder your kids natural instinct to ‘make a mess’. What you see as chaos is actually your kids exploring and problem solving. By allocating an ‘organised chaos’ zone you are allowing them to develop vital skills in a controlled environment.
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