Messy play? Not today

Parenting and life

I freely admit that I have a few issues when it comes to toddler mess.

I’m really more of a reading-a-book or a singing-a-song (or a ‘go entertain each other, that’s why we made two of you for God’s sake‘) mum than an arts-and-crafts mum. Stickers stuck in the wrong place in the book makes me nervous (is it bad to peel them off and re-do them when she’s asleep? Actually, I don’t care) and I can barely handle the havoc wreaked by mixing play doh.

It stands to reason then, that messy play is something that makes me shudder to my very core.

Apparently everyone (and their toddler) is doing it. It seems I can’t go to a play group without the toddler being presented with shaving foam and cooked pasta (and sometimes, for a extra treat, a bit of glitter) to delve her sticky little hands into… It’s great for development, according to people who know about these things. Something about causing your parents a breakdown by grinding sticky substances into the carpet will mean that you are destined to excel later in life. Maybe.

If this doesn’t make you shudder, you aren’t normal

Obviously, being the medal-winning parent that I am, I do want to encourage my children to be creative; to stimulate their senses…

But actively encouraging the kids to ruin my soft furnishings by conducting an activity with ‘messy’ right there in the damn title seems like a poor parenting choice indeed.

I received this email from a friend which I think makes my point.

She thought it might be useful blog material; one of her better judgements that day.

Those of a nervous disposition may wish to look away.

“Let’s play with some dry rice and pasta”, I said.

“It’ll be fun for him to pour between his tea set cups and bowls”, I said.

“I don’t mind hoovering afterwards, it won’t spread that far”, I said.

WHAT THE F&!@ WAS I THINKING?!?!?! He is picking up handful after handful and throwing it over the wooden floor because it bounces and scatters. It is literally everywhere. He played with it nicely for 30 seconds. WHAT DID I EXPECT TO HAPPEN HERE?!?!

I am categorising this one under “Terrible ideas you’ve had when you should know better but momentarily forget your toddler is not a Pinterest kind of a kid” 

Next time I have such a stroke of genius, I’ll look at these photos and put on Mr Tumble instead.

This is where this blog should really end, with a warning not to be as silly as my poor, foolish friend.

But, sadly, it does not.

This looks like it could be fun, thought I, and even better, I will dye the rice with food colouring (I must have been having a moment). My toddler is slightly older, and sensible – not the rice throwing type. Plus I have a Tuff Tray and so it can’t possibly go wrong. All the rice would be neatly contained within and not spread around the house like my poor friend; what a noob.

Easy peasy! Dried rice and a little bit of food colouring. Shake, allow to dry and ta-da! Scoop and play to your heart’s content! Hours of safe, clean fun.

These are the delightful ‘before’ photos. I was sure they were destined for a lovely smug ‘how to’ blog (one day I’ll get there). She definitely looked excited.

Who the hell was I kidding?

Here is a photo I took when I first realised that things weren’t going entirely to plan, but the rice situation was still under control.

There are no decent ‘after’ photos, as I was too busy trying to hoover the rice up before the not-quite-dried colouring seeped into the flooring whilst also stopping the toddler and the dog from eating too much dirty, dyed uncooked rice.

The entire outfit was relegated to the ‘painting’ pile and she needed a good long soaking to get the colour off her body. There are bits of her hair which still look a little bit blue. I’m expecting a few judgy stares from people who think I’ve let a two year old actually dye her hair.

Thank god the weather is getting warmer and they can do this shit in the garden.

Supermum, over and out.

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