Mud, paint, shaving cream, slime … When you are a kid, nothing is more fun than getting good and dirty! As a mom, I try to indulge my children every once in a while. But honestly, I am more likely to try to steer them toward something with less cleanup involved. One day, as I perused a Pinterest board looking for ways to entertain my twins all summer, I had the best idea! What if I organized a messy play date for my kids and a few of their friends? We could have all the good old-fashioned fun in one day with just one big cleanup.
So I messaged some friends and was thrilled to see everyone was on board. Our day was a big success. Here are a few pointers if you want to plan your own messy play date this summer.
- Mobilize Your Mom Friends – I sent out a message to a few other moms, asking who would be up for a messy play date. I suggested we each plan one station so the kids would have lots of activities to try. Dividing the work made it less overwhelming, but the kids would get to experience all the filthy fun. We shared our ideas so we would be sure to have a variety of messy activities.
- Location, Location, Location – You will need a lot of space to set up. We don’t have a big backyard, and let’s be honest, I didn’t really want the messy play date to take place at my house! But we do have a spacious neighborhood park with a small covered pavilion. It was nice to have shade and a few tables to use for our stations. Our park also has a small splash pad, which was great for the kids to run through to rinse off or cool down! Alternatively, you could set up a fun sprinkler as one of your stations. You may need easy access to water for some of your activities, and definitely for cleaning up when you’re done. If you decided to have the playdate at home, keep some eco friendly dishwasher pods and natural stain removal products on hand.
- Know Your Target Audience – You want to make sure the activities you choose are engaging for the kids but not too difficult for them to do on their own. Make sure all of the materials are safe if left unattended (nothing too sharp or toxic if swallowed, depending on your age group). I would avoid any type of project where you want a final product to look a certain way. The point is to let loose and let the kids have fun. There were a few toddlers in our group, and it was nice to have stations that were fun (and safe) for them to try as well.
- Do Your Research – Pinterest has an extraordinary amount of ideas for ways to get dirty! We had stations where the kids got to squirt paint on a large mural and use shaving cream and cut up pool noodles to build towers. They got plastic farm animal figures dirty and gave them a bath, made silly putty, and practiced pouring water in different-sized containers. Water beads were a huge hit, as was the crunchy box where the kids got to smash old, stale pantry goods with a hammer.
- Embrace the Mess – Let the kids go to town and get dirty! Don’t worry about cleanup until the bitter end. Take pictures, chat with your friends, and enjoy the day.
At the end of the morning, the kids were sweaty, dirty, and exhausted. So were the moms, but it was all worth it. This was one of my favorite play dates of all time. I think it will become a new summer tradition!
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