Welcome to my 3 part series on mess. I will be sharing why mess is not something to be afraid of, when mess is not ok, and ways to encourage your child to clean up their own mess without nagging.
Part 1: Why a Messy Playroom is something to be Celebrated
Ok, hear me out. Mess is the worst! WORST! I don’t love it. I don’t love cleaning it. And it flat out makes me feel anxious.
BUT… A messy playroom is not something to fear. In fact, when the playroom gets messy I tend to do a little happy dance inside. Let me tell you why.
Just to provide you with some context. We have made a conscious choice to buy toys for our sons that can be manipulated in many ways. Open ended toys often come as many loose parts. Sometimes large and sometimes small. When these types of toys get used, it can create a busy and messy space. So, given my sons’ playroom is predominately made of these things, the mess is inevitable.
Ok, so now you have a clear setting in mind, let me explain why mess is a good thing.
- The mess shows me that kids are deeply engaged in what they’re doing. Their focus is on their work and that detailed attention is something to be celebrated
- It means that my son has engaged many different materials in his play. He has chosen to use almost his entire playroom to create a scene or a sculpture.
- It affirms that the tools in his playroom are being used and that we have chosen the right fit materials for him. ** Just on this briefly, if there are materials in your playroom that your child never uses, you might need to show them different ways to use this material in order to spark their interest. And if that doesn’t work then don’t take it to heart. Sometimes passing a toy on to another child might be the best way to go.**
- Mess creates opportunity for our son to learn about managing the work space. Sometimes he gets overwhelmed because it is too messy and it’s obvious that he can’t think straight anymore. This in turn interrupts his creating. This is a golden chance to teach him that his space is his responsibility and that if the mess is too overwhelming for him then he needs to tidy up his tools as he goes. A great time to work out a process or rhythm for your child to stay focused on the play taking place BUT also the personal organization they need to get the best out of their space.
- It creates the opportunity to teach responsibility about cleaning up after yourself. Like in number 4, mess can help us learn about managing the space. But in this case we want our kids to be able to clean up after they are done. Maria Montessori taught the world that it is our job as parents to be our children’s guides, not their servants. What? I’m shocked! Hehe! The more we allow our children to get messy and then follow through with supporting them to clean up, the more benefits your child will reap in the long run. Personal responsibility and organization will soar and that in turn can filter into other areas of their life.
In my next post, I will share when mess is NOT OK and the difference between functional and dysfunctional mess.
Found this helpful so far? Leave a comment below!