Messy Play

This time last year, while I was on parental leave, I think I was quite good at providing opportunities for 'messy play' for Lile and Sábha. You know, the kind of play that has no rules, is usually wet and sticky, and has most parents fighting the urge to shout STOP and rush in with the mop within minutes...

Last Summer painting, play dough making, water play and sensory play with rice and pulses were a regular occurrence here. I enjoyed providing these kinds of things for the girls and loved watching them explore new textures and materials.

Then they started in Naíonra (preschool) and, as they engaged in messy play every day there, I gave myself a free pass to avoid doing it at home. They didn't seem very interested in playing with play dough in the afternoons anyway, having already played with it for as long as they liked that morning... or that's how I justified it anyway... Eventually I fell out of the habit of just 'going with it' and the thoughts of purposely letting them run riot with sticky stuff started to seem like too much hard work for me.

Getting started with the 'carpet'
They've been on Summer break now for over a month, so their access to messy play has been curtailed dramatically. Sand-play has been limited to the odd beach visit. They have had access to water play in the back garden when it's been hot, but not every day like they had been used to. I think we played with play dough once or twice... but, other than that, there's not been too much happening that's been rule free, or too 'messy'.

Until Saturday, that is, when a rainy day and a prompt from Mama Courage encouraged me to provide them with a licence to mess. And I'm so glad I loosened the reins and decided to not worry about the cleanup before the fun was had.

I don't actually know if our Saturday 'messy play' is exactly within the parameters of how 'messy play' is defined but it did make a mess. And it was sticky. And it didn't have any rules... so I figure it qualifies for the linky I'm adding this post to!

For our afternoon of messy play, I was actually inspired by Lile reminding me about an exhibition of shoe-box houses we took part in when they were only 22 months old (how she remembers these things I'll never know). She asked if she could make another house and it sounded like as good an idea as any to me.

I found two shoe boxes (one each), grabbed the big box of craft stuff, clipped some images from a stack of old magazines and set everything on the table. The girls went to choose some of their tiny toys to live in the houses while I poured out 'gloopy glue' found paint brushes and tried to lay out the huge amounts of stuff in some kind of a coherent manner... not that is was possible. Not that it even mattered, because it was all upside down and all over the place within minutes anyway.

So they snipped and they stuck and they ordered me to cut things out for them (like the bunting) and they came and they went and all in all they spent about 4 hours creating their little houses and even more time playing with them since.
Lile's house. That's a Picasso on the wall. Girl's got taste.
The animals relaxing by the fire.
In the end it wasn't as horrendously messy as I had anticipated. There was a pile of bits that went into the recycling bin and the table was covered in a hard (but mercifully water soluble) layer of PVA glue, but after a scrub and a sweep the kitchen was back to its usual level of almost clean.

Sábha's house
Even bunny got decorated. Sábha made the necklace too.
As a bonus, I had two very happy, very proud children that had managed to get through an entire rainy day without whining once. And as an extra bonus, I'm pretty happy they enjoyed it so much and very proud of their creations too.

Hooray for Messy Play!

I am taking part in Mama Courage's linky entitled ‘Messy Play Projects’. If you have thought about doing messy play but have yet to find the motivation, now’s your chance - click through to find lots of inspiration. Or if you’re a professional at getting sticky, maybe you’d like to pass on some ideas. Do join in and share your messy play ideas too!


  1. Your girls are talented...and patient. R would probably eat most of that stuff before we got to make anything, and I would be sitting in a corner weeping. :-D

    But seriously, the houses are beautiful. and yes, R would eat most of it. sigh.I'll give it a go this weekend anyway.

    1. Haha! Oh Muuka! I'm so glad mine are past the 'tasting' phase... though they are prone to nibbling their own hair and clothes still... Do give it a go. Apparently the outcome isn't really what's important in this kind of play, it's the process (if you can actually handle the process, that is!) She'll have a ball!

  2. Such a creative house! Thank you on joining in on the messy play fun :)


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