I’m not a monster. I’m just a mom. A mom who is sick and tired of cleaning and picking up toys every day. Some toys just make me cringe more than others. Maybe it’s just my kids, but even toys that I think will be a minimal mess still end up being a disaster.
When my mom bought my kids a sandbox, I thought it was good, harmless fun. That is, until my living room looked like a beach because they brought in so much sand in their clothes, shoes, and hair. Sand gets in every orifice and crevice. My kids also like to make “experiments” consisting of sand and water. Surprise! It just makes a huge mess!
When we discovered Kinetic Sand, I thought this was the end of all our sand trouble. This was also a huge fail. While it doesn’t have the same consistency as regular play sand, it has the potential to make as much of a mess. At this point, kinetic sand is only allowed outside because it gets everywhere and is hard to vacuum up.
Are you even a parent if you haven’t picked dried Play Doh out of your carpet? Between the color mixing and the tools for cutting and shaping the Play Doh, it’s the perfect recipe for a mishap. Sometimes the lids “accidently” get left off and the Play Doh dries up and it has to be thrown out. What a shame! But the joke is on me because I always end up buying more.
I know we have all heard of four letter words, but if you are a parent, there is a five letter word that makes you shudder: slime. It gets on clothing, furniture, and even in hair. I really enjoyed picking slime out of our dog’s fur a few months ago. But for some reason, kids LOVE it. I don’t know if it is the texture, the weird mix-ins (like sequins?!), the scent, or the funny “fart” noise it makes putting it back in the container. My kids are too young to make their own, which I’m sure is coming. But for now, we will stick to the pre-made goop. Why make a bad thing even worse? Along with kinetic sand, slime has been demoted to an “outside only” toy.
If you aren’t a parent, you are probably wondering, what is wrong with bubbles? But if you have kids, you understand. If they manage to hold on to the bubble wand, your children will spill the sticky, soapy solution all over any surface. This makes your patio, driveway, or deck into an ice skating rink because of the slippery solution. And if they spill the bubbles? Watch out and plug your ears and brace yourself for some screaming. Nothing makes a kid cry more than spilt bubbles. And if they don’t spill it, it’s probably because they are forcing you to hold the slimy container and blow bubbles until you are oxygen deprived and out of breath.
If you really want to pull your hair out and lose your mind, buy your kids some Orbeez. These tiny beads that expand to 150 times their original size are the biggest offender of messy toys in my book. Maybe your kids have self control, but mine do not. I thought it would be a great idea to put the Orbeez in our water table and play with them outside. I told my then three year old, DO NOT OPEN THE DRAIN. Well, being three years old, guess what? She opened the drain (SHOCKING!!!). Thousands of Orbeez leaked out all over our patio and I spent the next few hours sucking them up with our Shop Vac to prevent our dog from gobbling them up. Epic fail. Never again.
While I like a clean house, I also know that playing and getting dirty are a part of childhood. I have come up with innovative ways to do my best to keep their play time fun and keep my sanity. First and foremost, I send all Play Doh, slime, and sand to Grandma’s (sorry Mom!). I also invested in one of the best Amazon purchases ever: the Craft-E Mat! This mat is made of silicone and is washable. It has a lip on the edge to ensure that messes stay on the mat and not on the floor. My kids love it for water play and other activities that could potentially be disastrous. Another alternative to the the Craft-E Mat would be a baking sheet with a lip.
With the weather turning warmer, we try to spend as much time as we can outside. Playing outside, eating outside and even crafting outside. We purchased this table last year and it is awesome for mess making and enjoying meals al fresco. The best part is, it folds flat and wipes clean. Winning!
I love parenting, but I don’t always love the cleaning up part. While I do my best to allow my children to be creative, I also try to maintain some type of order in our home. Some days, it’s easier said than done, but I know my children are making memories and messes and loving every minute of it.