5 Surefire ways to fail at Messy Play

Messy play. For many of us parents it’s a love/hate thing. Either you enjoy doing it with your kids or you point blank refuse to deal with the mess. I do like doing messy play but it doesn’t always (or even very often) go the way I hope. I have in fact had some disastrous messy play experiences over the last week or so, so I feel suitably qualified to share with you a guide to ensuring that messy play goes very badly indeed and stresses you out enormously.fail at messy play

1. Do zero preparation.

Tell your kids about a fantastic idea before you have even thought about how possible it is, whether you even have the right ingredients or considered how long it takes to prepare. Cue kids whining and clinging while you try and gather ingredients and get it all ready. This does not get messy play off to a good start and you are stressed before you even begin. Brilliant.

2. Don’t think about your child and whether it is right for them.

Even if you know your child doesn’t like getting sticky or wet, set then up with some jelly messy play and see how it goes. Why not eh? Of course there’s no chance they will act true to form and refuse to participate because “I don’t like it” or will try their best before yelling “my hands are all yucky” while screaming and throwing themselves at you with said yucky hands.

3. Believe what you see on pinterest and social media.

Of course there is no chance that those smily faces you see are merely a snapshot and the one happy moment of messy play before the whining started. As for those picture perfect results and amazing creations as a result… Yup zip chance a parent has contributed at all and of course your children will also create similar masterpieces. No doubt about that whatsoever…a picture tells a thousand words? Or a thousand LIES!?

I posted this picture on Instagram.. looks idylic huh? Nicely glosses over the fact that within seconds Monkey was demanding to get out kicking off an uber tantrum and LM wanted to get out shortly after...

I posted this picture on Instagram.. looks idylic huh? Nicely glosses over the fact that within seconds Monkey was demanding to get out kicking off an uber tantrum and LM wanted to get out shortly after… Don’t believe everything you see folks!

4. Expect it to last more than 5 minutes.

Because of course they will enjoy it so much that they will still be engrossed in half an hour or an hour allowing you to have a cup of tea or write a blog post. There’s no chance that they will prod it for a few mins then announce “I’ve had enough now. ” Or if they are too little to talk then of course they won’t suddenly make a break for freedom trailing spaghetti/jelly/paint throughout the house the second you have turned away because you think they are happily playing. If they have previously enjoyed an activity then you can guarantee that they will like it again…  Yup absolutely zero chance they will be a contrary little so and so and refuse to join in…. ahem.

5. Underestimate the clean up operation.

Can you say uh oh?

Can you say uh oh?

Got a pack of wipes. Yeah that’ll do. Until you see both you and child are up to your arms in black goo which is dripping all over the floor which you haven’t put any protective covering down on… Cue holding a child at arms length as you run through the house to the nearest sink, screaming “don’t touch anything” while you hope nothing drops anywhere that it can’t be removed by vanish or bleach!


See, failing at Messy Play is very very easy!

If for some reason you don’t want to fail at Messy Play, perhaps take care to avoid all of the above faux pas… And yes I have done all of them more than once…


Because it is worth it. Sometimes, just sometimes, you are rewarded with scenes like these and that makes it all worthwhile 🙂 even if the smiles are very shortlived. Even when there is a ginormous clean up operation to come. As long as you don’t expect too much from them or yourself it will be fine.PhotoGrid_1456409504007

The Reading ResidenceMummascribbles#ToddlerApprovedTuesday

31 thoughts on “5 Surefire ways to fail at Messy Play

  1. Ha ha you need some kind of messy play medal. My two are lucky if I get the paints out ha ha I salute you in your enthusiasm. If we lived closer, I’d so descend on you for combined messy play-at your house obviously 😉 xx

  2. I so need to get a tuff spot, yes preparation is the key and I am usually ready with clean up sorted, think wipes and a sink full of soap. I have fallen foul to the leave them for a second and telling them before I was ready, we have had a disaster or fifteen too!

  3. Love this! We do messy play yet I still fail with your number one rule there over and over again! I am totally prepared on number 4, though, and now come to expect that! Glad you’ve had some fun with it, too, though x Thanks for sharing with #WotW

  4. Ah messy play it’s something I’d personally love to do with my daughter but I don’t know when to start. Thanks for giving your honest opinion about this activity. #wotw

  5. Ah, this made me chuckle! I haven’t done any messy play for ages, kids are getting a bit old now, but I have been going back through old posts to update them a bit and quite a few of them have comments about where it all went wrong! You’re right though, it is worth it for the times it goes right 🙂

  6. Oh I love this postrich so much because I HATE messy play. I HATE IT, I HATE IT, I HATE IT. Did I mention I HATE IT lol. Of course I do try to get creative occasionally because I feel that I should for the kids but it always ends in diaster, only lasts five minutes and takes about an hour to clean up. You hit the nail on the head with your five points here!


  7. I don’t get messy play. Seems like a waste of good food to me. I’d rather let them eat with their hands at dinner time or play in the mud in the garden then chuck them into the bath before bed.
    Well done to you for giving it a good AND for dispelling the myths about it all.

  8. Ha ha – so funny and true! Number one is me far too often, as I potter around going ‘I’ve got a brilliant idea; just wait a minute…’ But we’ve become much better at messy play with practice! #Letkidsbekids

  9. Ooooh my gosh! This post is amazing hahaha.
    So true.
    The other day, my 2 year old was doing some painting, ok fine, then I thought it’d be a good idea (for some stupid reason) for my 8 month old baby to get involved too. He literally rolled in it.

  10. I did messy play more when Mini R was younger and couldn’t move far. Now he’s talking, walking and kicking off more, messy play is harder so i save it for when there is another pair of hands to help with the clean up! Your kids are uber cute 🙂 #twinklytuesday

  11. This post just speaks to me! I tend to shy away from messy play. Unless it’s at someone elses house. But they need it don’t they? Huff, messy messy play

  12. I posted a comment yesterday but I have popped to come back to let you know that reading this again has inspired me to try messy play! I will be attempting messy play this weekend. Wish me luck! Obviously I will be taking lots of pictures for instagram that make it look perfect 😉 #bestandworst

  13. Your fab messy play ideas, whilst scary to contemplate (!) always make me think of you as such a great mum! You really get stuck in and let them get stuck in and I think they will have benefitted from that enormously. I’d love to look a bit deeper into the skills they develop doing this kind of thing but on the other hand no, because then I will feel guilty that I didn’t do more of it with my children! Thanks for linking to #thetruthabout Caroline X

  14. Haha, these are all very true! We haven’t done messy play in a while, except with water. You’re right about Pinterest – it can look very contained in the photos, but there’s a good chance the material will be all over your house.

  15. Hahaha. I love messy play with my little one but I also under estimate to true extent to the clean operation especially if my little decides to lend a hand…we are normally right back to square one! Thank you for sharing!!!

  16. You are seriously brave…..I actually can’t bear the thought of doing messy play in the house, even just baking cakes is a mission with Alfie and the mess is too much! Fab pictures though! #bestandworst

  17. Brilliant post lovely! I was going to mention points I agreed with, but I agree with all of them! How you made me laugh with the photo of Monkey playing with that black goo: Not something I fancy trying 🙂 #TruthAbout

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