From our School Director, Christine Wise:
I was standing in the kitchen and heard my daughter start to dissolve into giggles. Only one person in this house can make her laugh like that–her brother. My heart warmed as I thought “how nice, they’re playing together during their lunch/recess break from virtual school.”
My teenage son lumbered through the kitchen and into the living room with his little sister hot on his heels. And then it happened. She whacked him on the head with some of the styrofoam (that was neatly piled at the door to go to recycling) and pieces went everywhere. He laughed and ran to get his own piece as she stood there and laughed. He ran back to her with his own piece–pre destroyed–and sprinkled it over her head. The chase was on as they made the loop through the kitchen, into the family room and back to the kitchen. Little pieces of Styrofoam flew behind them like snow in the wind.
It was up to me what happened next. I could lose it and yell at them to knock it off or I could let this play out for a minute and see where it went. I chose the latter.
It’d been awhile since some true messy play had happened in my house between my two children so I welcomed the mess. I watched them get more and more Styrofoam and crush it on each other while they enjoyed watching the pieces float to the ground*. Their laughter was still warming my heart and they were being careful with each other to not cause injury**. When the last of the pieces had floated to the ground (and the sofas, the dogs, the end tables…) my daughter piped up with “that was fun and it’s easy to clean up.” My son grabbed the vacuum and they worked together to clean up the mess they had created.
Messy play–sometimes you plan it and sometimes it just happens. And I remembered why it was important: social and emotional development, physical development, sensory input all happened in a few minutes. But there were days when I cringed. Days where I had just cleaned up one mess only to find another. Winter days when it felt like we’d been in the house for an eternity because of arctic cold are still in my memory–those are the days they seemed to want to have the most messy play imaginable.
But it’s all just that–a memory.
So today I say embrace the mess–it’s tomorrow’s memory.
Learn all about messy play and why it’s beneficial for your preschooler here: https://www.growinghandsonkids.com/importance-messy-play-children.html