Appreciating the Mess

by added on 1 February 2016, Comments Off on Appreciating the Mess , posted in Blog

By: Hazel DeWitt, Toddler PM Class Coordinator

“A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”

-Jerry Seinfeld

Finger painting. Sidewalk Chalk. Sand Everywhere. Glue and Glitter. Smashed Bananas. Puddle Stomping.  Helpfully Unfolding the Laundry.  “Washable” Markers. Water Play.  Mud Pies.  Stickers.  Cooking Projects.

These things are toddler staples but have a way of making parents cringe.  We put so much time and effort into bringing order into our lives, cleaning our homes, and organizing activities for our children.  By the time the afternoon rolls around I feel as though I’ve cleaned up the same messes over and over all day long.  Often, the last thing I feel like doing is putting on boots and stomping through puddles or getting out glue and glitter for my little one to explore as she wishes.

My daughter has her own opinions on this.  She is a determined artist, and is happiest with a paint brush or crayon in her hand.  She adores playing in the kitchen and will empty any cabinet to helpfully rearrange it for me.  When she gets in the tub for her bath, it is unusual for her hair not to be full of glitter.  And the fantastic thing is, she knows just what she needs to grow, expand her fine and gross motor skills, and develop her logical thinking.

Ultimately, I never regret the mess.  When we bring out something new and fun to explore, like a new art material, I see her eyes light up and watch her focus intently on trying something new.  Playing in the kitchen she learns to stack, stir, sort, and she’s developing some great rhythm playing with pots and pans.  Outside she loves to play in gravel, gather leaves, and run right through the mud.

In a world where children are increasingly expected to focus on academic subjects from a very young age, it is easy to get wrapped up in Pinterest perfect projects, art for the holidays, and our own agendas of what our children should be “working on.”  It’s not always easy to step back and see that the messy work of developing independence and exploring the world is a far greater reward for our children than being coached into painting the perfect snowman or wearing clothes that match perfectly.  When I embrace the mess and think about the memories we’re making I wouldn’t have it any other way.



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