When my husband and I wrote our “Dear Birthmother” letter, we joked about how I would be the mess-maker parent while Daddy would be “the cleaner”.  That has pretty much held true.  I love it when our baby girl jumps in mud puddles or recklessly attempts to paint with a paintbrush.  I usually reserve messy activities for when Daddy is not around, just to save him the anxiety.

But there’s a difference between messy play activities and the every day messes that now encompass our daily life. Now that our little monkey is 16 months old the messes are getting bigger and sometimes destructive.  Baby girl now KNOWS the difference between messy play and unacceptable messes…but thoroughly enjoys the latter.  I’ve created a monster. 

Some of her favourite recent activities include:

  • splashing in dog’s water dish
  • emptying dresser drawers
  • testing markers on the sofa
  • dispersing as much water from bathtub as possible
  • smearing food into hair
  • unwinding toilet paper roll

But rather than getting frustrated by her new level of exploration and expression I took a step back and realized she is really just avoiding her old toys, which she barely touches.  She is bored.  It’s time for a new round of activities which will redirect baby’s need for stimulation.

I took to the web for some inspiration.  I’m now addicted to the many wonderful sites and blogs dedicated to creative play and artfulness.  I’ll list a few favourites in a moment.  In the meantime, here are some ideas we’re trying this weekend:

  • Funnels and squeeze bottle – I bought a set of 3 funnels and a squeeze bottle at the Dollar Store and introduced them at bath time.  Baby was so enthralled she didn’t even touch her other toys.  Not a single drop of water left the tub.
  • Plastic farm animals in a tray – Also from the Dollar Store, I picked up a bag of little farm animals (cow, sheep, duck, pig, cat, etc) and a little sorting box with a cover (one you’d use for beads).  I’ve watched her sort the animals into the compartments and dump out the box more than 30 times already.  Her old toys sit next to her, untouched.
  • Rice tub – I haven’t tried this yet but I’m going to take a large bag of white rice and put it in a low-sided container.  I’ll give baby her funnels (multi-purpose!), some little scoops, a spoon and a bottle and let her work away at rice production. I’m just waiting for the weather to improve so we can go out on the back deck.  Yes, even the mess-maker parent can predict the outcome of said activity indoors…
  • Mud painting – when Mother Nature serves you nothing but rain, you make mud pies.  And what better way to share your mud pies than by spreading them on a canvas with our hands?  Yep, this is gonna be a fun one.

I’m really looking forward to trying some other imaginative play ideas and art projects this summer.  There are some really amazing parents out there in blog land who have helped me get my creative juices flowing.  Here are a few of the sites that inspire me!

What sites inspire you? What are your favourite creative/entertaining activities? I’d love to hear about them!

Whatever your weekend activity, I hope it’s joyful.  Time to go make more messes!