In "'Focus on' Friday" this week, I’m going to talk about the benefits of sensory play and what I think are the best sensory play experiences. Today I wanted to suggest some ways to make this sort of play a little easier to clean up. I’ve found many parents are reluctant to give messy play a go at home because it’s just so, well, messy.
I don’t like mess any more than the next mum and I hate cleaning up even more. I’ve got enough to do around the house without giving myself another job. But messy play is important so I’ve come up with a few ways to minimize mess and still let the kids enjoy the wonderful benefits of sensory play.
Invest in some plastic
These tables cost around $10 and are great because they clean down really easily. I either wipe them or squirt them down and let them dry in the sun. They're not the prettiest tables, but they live outside and if they get a bit ruined or something won't come off, it really doesn't matter.
Keep disposable containers that can go in the bin
I recycle some of my recycling to use as paint pots, glue containers as well as sand and water play toys. I find fruit, yoghurt, jelly and cream containers work the best but I'm also partial to butter containers, glass jars and the measuring scoops you sometimes find in washing detergent boxes.
Always wear old clothes
I keep those old, scrappy stained clothes that are a little too small for messy play days. That way, they can go straight in the bin if they get too wrecked. If you've already thrown everything out, second-hand shops are a great place to find clothes to muck around in.
Clean up outside
I like to include a couple of bowls of warm soapy water so the kids can clean up while they're still outside. I'll have a few old towels and face cloths handy as well. That way the mess stays outside and the kids come in relatively clean. It's a good idea to head straight to the bath or shower too.
Use a drop sheet
A plastic table cloth or old sheet can double as a drop cloth too. Again, a second-hand shop is a great place to pick up a cheap sheet and discount stores often have plastic table cloths for just a couple of dollars. They can both be cut to size and then thrown away if they get ruined.
Use the kitchen or bathroom if the weather is bad
When the weather's bad, I'll bring the plastic tables inside and put them in the kitchen or the bathroom. The kitchen and bathroom floors are much easier to wipe down if the mess overflows.
What's your best messy play tip?