Mess play is so important for little ones! The most important thing is to remember to set your worry about the mess aside and simply enjoy these moments with your children.
Imagination & Creativity
When you provide your children with messy items, especially at a young age, you're setting up their foundation for art and encourages their innate curiosity about the world around them.
When children experiment with new items, they learn to investigate different ways the object works. For example, using a squirt gun filled with paint, your child might learn how far the paint will go when they squirt it. They will learn how they will need to hold it so that the paint lands on the canvas that you've spread out rather than on their little brother.
Hold tight because sometimes things will get even messier but remember, that's where they're learning vital life and social skills AND where you're making memories!
As they build their life skills and enhance their creativity, they will also be building their confidence. Their little eyes will light up when they've created something all on their own (even if it took you twice as long to do and it's 10 times messier than if you had just helped).
When cooking, let them crack the egg (into a separate dish). Yes, there will be many shells that will fall in but only at first. The more you allow them to participate, the better they will get. Plus, you can teach them fun ways to problem-solve : dip your finger in water then fish out the egg shell, it will come right out.
All children are different, just like adults, so their learning styles are going to be different also. Take the time to talk to them about what they're doing, ask questions, and truly listen. They're learning from you all of the time and how you interact with them will be how they learn to interact with others. Let them share their ideas. Ask "Can you tell me more about this right here?" "What happens when you use these over there?"
Getting your kids up and moving probably isn't a problem if they have the energy level like mine do but add some mess to that movement and you can watch them learning new ways to move around. Encouraging gross-motor skills is just as important as encouraging fine-motor skills.
Get out your little kiddy pool when the weather gets warm. Add those play balls and then soap to the mix! Watch as they wiggle and squirm, adding more soapy suds.
Tips for reducing your stress over the mess
I know that letting your children dive into a mess can add to your stress (believe me, I'm a type-A personality) but I've discovered a few simple things that can help.
Baby Wipes: these aren't just for when you have a baby! Keep these with you while you're having a messy play time to help grab any spills about to hit the carpet, icky hands before they grab your shirt, etc. Makes for a simple clean up!
Garbage Can: Keep this right where you're playing so you can easily toss the baby wipes away. Get the kids involved in throwing away any of their mess also.
Canvas Cloth or Drop Cloth: Prep your area BEFORE you have mess play. Our large canvas cloth was originally a backdrop for photography (20feet x 12feet) but it's the perfect canvas material to use for art! I spread it out every time we're doing a project. Not only does it keep the ground/ carpet/ furniture clean but after, we have a beautiful piece of art. I actually keep it hung up like a photography backdrop because it's a fun reminder of all of our messy play.
Clothes: When you and your children are wearing items that you already know can get mess or dirty or stained, it can reduce your stress. When I don't have to worry about them getting some paint on their shirts, then I can enjoy the moment more