I have always been a bit of a Monica. Like really OCD. I mean mega tidy. Super organised. Get the picture? I remember having to share my room with messy sisters and I would literally divide the room up with tape to establish sides and their mess couldn’t get anywhere near my space. Bit sad, right? Anyway, I like things to be orderly, clean and in its proper place.
Things have changed though with a now 18 month old. I mean, I still like things to be orderly and tidy but I am having to learn that it isn’t a huge deal if things are a bit messy when he is playing. I can make things ‘just so’ when he is napping and then be ready for it to start all over again.
As he is into the next stage of development we have been trying to get creative recently. We are getting to grips with cutting and sticking, painting, playing with messy fruit, jelly, custard, pasta, wool etc to develop his creativity. I think Daddy is loving all of these wonderful works of art that we show him when he is home from work….
But how do you let your little one be creative, without it turning into a big stressy mess? I am getting to grips with things now but in the start I just didn’t want to even attempt it as I would just be freaking out about things being spilt or dropped and neither of us would be having a good time.
You might be quite chilled about things like this, but if you are a bit more like me, I have found that these few things work for me:
– Be organised and PLAN. I find it hard to be spontaneous at the best of times but I think creative play has to be planned and prepared for properly. Pick the day and time, fitting around naps etc and prepare everything you will need. Then you know you have everything you want and you can prepare the work surface. For example, taping down some bin liners on the kitchen floor, make up the jelly or play-dough, whatever you feel you need for the activity.
– Use the high chair. (Or booster, chair harness, whatever you use). At least to start with anyway. Then you don’t have a fear like I did, that they’ll just run off with a paintbrush in one hand or with pomegranate seeds in the other. On cream carpet. Gahhhh. (Understanding my clean freak a bit more now??)
– Don’t be afraid of the mess. As long as you have planned in advance and prepared (see first point haha) then it should be pretty easy to clear up afterwards. Plus, you can just put the littles straight in the bath if needs be. They don’t care if they get mucky!
– Accept that things won’t be works of art / won’t taste good. In the early attempts at being creative with Max I would set aside proper baking time, get proper recipes and want to make cupcakes or cookies, having him help me stir or use the cookie cutters. I would get so frustrated when he wasn’t doing it right haha (I know right, he is only 1) so I have learnt that you just need to get some cheap ingredients and bear in mind that you might not be able to (or want to) eat them when they are done, but hey ho! You have had fun, quality time with your little one 🙂
– Just have fun. Put some music on, get your aprons on, maybe dance around a bit (only me?). Just have a fun time whilst doing it and it will take out the stressy element. You will both enjoy it so much more then too.