The title of this post might have you shaking in your boots, but when you’re a mom, mess pretty much becomes your middle name! I mean, I guess I can’t speak to other people’s experiences, but if I’m being honest, the mess is never ending around our house. I really don’t expect that to change much as Zelda gets older, either. Hence, say yes to the mess!
I get a lot of messages from you guys celebrating the idea that I let Zelda make messes. Whether it be letting her get down and dirty with me in the kitchen, paint her own nails or during craft projects, I really just let her be and if that means a mess happens, it happens.
I bring this up because it dawned on me after getting all those messages from you guys that maybe this isn’t how it is for everyone? When I sat down and thought about it and decided to write this post, I got really excited because I think this is an important conversation to have. It brings up all my feelings and perspective on creative play.
As parents, I think it’s easy for us to get a little lost in strategizing how to parent efficiently and we forget that we should turn off the motivational podcasts, loosen up the schedule a bit and just embrace the natural intuition of our children to play and be creative.
At the end of the day, we all just want to be the best parents possible. I am by no means telling you how to raise your family and I’m definitely not preaching, but I think we can all agree we don’t want to limit our children’s creativity, right? So, with all of that said, let’s literally let our kids stop and smell the roses – let’s let them explore!
To go along with this, I’ve rounded up 10 tips that have helped me make a conscious effort to embrace the mess with Zelda, and I thought it might be helpful for anyone wanting to mix things up with their own family!
1. Learning To Play Takes Practice
As adults, I don’t think any of us are naturally good at sitting down and playing barbies or with LOL dolls for four hours. And if you are, you’re probably a millionaire YouTube star because my kid could watch that stuff for days. My point is, it probably doesn’t come easy to most of us. Sprio actually said to me the other day that he felt like he was struggling to be present and play with Zelda. I told him, it just takes practice. And it does. It’s training yourself to be mindful and really dig deep within your own creativity to tell them interesting stories or use words they might not know and incorporating numbers and letters and education into play. If you’re feeling like Spiro, you can do it. I have faith in you, just keep giving it effort and it’ll come.
2. Oprah is NOT Stopping By
What I mean by this is, no one is stopping by your house unexpectedly. So if it’s Saturday morning and it looks like a tornado has run through the house but giggles are happening and everyone is smiling – who cares about the mess! I don’t know why we obsess about making sure our home is picture perfect for those people that might stop by (but they won’t). And if someone does stop by, it’s friends or family and they don’t give a shit about the state of your house anyway. So just let it be and have fun with your kids.
3. Stock Up Your Creative Arsenal
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I’m a big crafter. We’ve got an entire closet filled with Legos, art supplies and glitter. I know it’s not every adult’s thing, and I get that, but that doesn’t mean it’s not your kids’ thing. Build an accessible arsenal of crafty fun for them that they can get into at any time. Ditch the iPad and swap it out for some crayons. In fact, I challenge you to shop the items I linked below and then just put them somewhere in your house that’s accessible for your kids and see what happens. They will love having this opportunity at their fingertips – promise!
4. Glitter Won’t Make Your House Implode
I will not sit here and tell you glitter isn’t messy, because it is. But honestly, to me, it’s worth having to spend a little time cleaning up. Zelda freaking loves it and hell, I freaking love it. If you really don’t want the kids playing with it in the middle of your living room, which is completely understandable, shift them towards the basement or a playroom. Bottom line, it’ll be fine! Glitter won’t ruin your house – it’ll just add some character, ha!
5. Just Let Them Be!
Let your kids’ imaginations run wild! Tell them you bought them new art supplies and then challenge them to come up with something. For example, “I bet you can’t come up with a play and draw all the characters in an hour!” For this situation, I highly recommend this DIY play stage, but it doesn’t have to be this. Challenge them to draw a self-portrait or build something out of Legos, anything, and then stand back and completely let them do it themselves.
6. Don’t Chase The Mess
Trust me when I say I know it’s tempting to want to clean up after your kids as they go along while playing, but don’t. We all know that if they leave one room and you pick it up they’ll be right back in and destroy it all over again. Let them do their thing and you can tidy up later. Unless there’s a 911 situation and your beautiful floors are about to be ruined or something. That’s different. But I’m telling you, you’re sanity will be saved by just letting the mess go.
7. It’s Called A Washing Machine
Zelda has an affinity for fashion, so when she wants to wear a pretty dress to go feed goats, that’s what she’ll wear. And if she gets a stain or a tear, well, that’s just fine. Because she’s a kid and that’s what kids do! If you’re worried about clothes, don’t spend lots of money on them. Instead, focus on finding things your kids like that they can live their life in. Also, if worst comes to worst, remember you have a washing machine.
8. Look Up With Them
If you’re walking along with your kid and they stop to look at something, it’s because their interest was piqued. Although your instinct might be to hustle them along, try to stop and enjoy that moment with them. Ask what they’re looking at and why it caught their eye. There are so many amazing things in this world our children haven’t experienced yet, so go on that journey with them!
9. Say Yes When You Would Say No
OK, I have a personal challenge for you. Challenge yourself to say YES to two things this week you typically would say NO to. Now, beware, it will require you to slow down for a moment or maybe delay something on your grow up agenda but do it. I think you’ll find this little experiment to be quite powerful.
10. They Only Get One Childhood
This is it, they only get ONE childhood. And as their parents, we have this crazy opportunity to do something extraordinary with these little humans we’re raising. Don’t let it pass you by. Schedule time on your calendar like you would something for work if you to. Just be present and work every day to instill strength and creativity into your littles – they’re the future after all!