How to Avoid Craft Time Making Your House Messy
Having a clean craft time is often elusive and whilst it’s fun for the kids, the cleanup is often a nightmare.
Kids love messy play, and research also shows that it has a crucial role in a child’s development. While you may wish to avoid certain arts and crafts because your child likes to use the whole house as their canvas, a little preparation and a few tips can help avoid the nightmare cleanup and actually get a clean craft time (ish!)
Be Prepared for SOME Cleanup
Whichever way you slice it, you could have the most clean craft time ever and there will still be some things that need to be tidied away. Such is the fact of having kids. But, you can make it easier by having a plastic box of cleaning supplies easily on hand when you have the craft supplies out that catches any spills or mishaps as they happen.
Things to include in your clean box are:
- Paper towels
- Disposable tablecloths
- Cleaning/Washing up liquid
- Bin bags
- Rubber or latex gloves
You may also want to have an alcohol-based cleaner on hand for supplies that aren’t water soluble, but be sure to avoid those with toxic chemicals.
Influence the Mess
How much of a mess craft time will become depends on what type of crafting you’ll do. The trick here is to influence the amount of mess by carefully choosing an activity. For example, finger painting or potato stamps will be very messy, while things like origami or good old paper folding will be almost mess-free.
Of course, you don’t always get a choice and your kids will insist on one or the other but you can help make their choices easier by influencing the less messiest if you want a clean craft time just this once!
Switch Your Supplies
Switch out some of your craft supplies for easy to clean alternatives! For example, avoid liquid glue and stick (pun intended) to glue sticks if you want to avoid the messy trail glue leaves behind. Also, try and opt for water-based paints and pencils so that you can easily clean up any spillages and not risk the clothes or furniture.
Have a Craft Space
A clean craft time is all about finding a good designated location. The criteria for this includes: easy to clean, store supplies and also away from anything that you want to keep ‘intact’. Select a spot as far away from any rugs or carpets if you can, and avoid being near furniture that’s hard to clean. The kitchen desk and chair are often a popular spot for art and craft projects when not in use. particularly if you’re prepping lunch in the nearby kitchen because you can keep an eye on things. You might also want to invest in a kids’ table and chair set that come with great storage solutions for their art supplies.
Keep it Simple
Craft time doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun. Kids, especially younger ones, prefer simple crafts, so you can stick to things like Play-Doh, or even make your own playdough at home. Paper plates are always a favourite for crafting and great for any season. Kids can paint them, or fold them to make trees, angels, snowmen, or anything they like.
You could also make simple more interesting by getting child-friendly decorative scissors that can cut different designs, like zig-zag or waves, but are still safe enough for your child to handle.
It’s better to keep things covered and protected so you don’t need to clean up later! Invest in a plastic play mat that can catch spillages of paint and mess and then folded away once dry. Simply shake it outside to remove the dry paint before your next activity and you have a foolproof way of protecting the floor.
Cover The Kids
Messy crafts will always stay messy; that is a battle you can’t win, but you can avoid getting their clothes messy though. To avoid mishaps, give kids an apron or overalls to offer that protection and you could even give them thin gloves to wear. Buy a cheap child’s lab coat and combined with the gloves and some mock glasses – your kids can become a scientist or a chemist mixing up the next awesome potion!
Cover The Table
If you don’t have a craft table or desk and need to protect the surface you can also invest in the reusable plastic covers you get from building supply or hardware stores that people use to protect the carpet when redecorating. They are fairly inexpensive and can be draped over everything when a newspaper is not suitable, or the print might transfer to the crafts!
Use The Bath
Sensory games are awesome but often make the biggest mess. Putting that mess into an area that can easily be cleaned seems like the best course of action. Therefore, let the kids craft and make art in an empty bath where you can easily wash everything away. As a bonus, your kids will already be in the bath for bath time. To make bath time more fun, craft things that your child will be able to use in the bath, like alphabet sponges. They are great fun and also double as stamps!
Have a Discussion Beforehand
Make sure you set guidelines and ground rules before you start a crafting activity, particularly for very messy play. You might discuss things like “no painting ourselves or each other” particularly if you have paints or glue that are harmful to the skin.
Take It Outside
You don’t just have to reserve outdoor play for the summer! Whenever the weather and your free time allow, take crafting outside and you can get really messy. For example, you can hang paper from the washing line and create paint splatter pieces without any of the hassle of doing it indoors and your kids will love it! You could also fill water guns with water-based paint and have them shoot at a canvas for fun.
Contain sensory play within ziplocked bags or lockable boxes so they can easily be stored away without having to separate the sensory world (which is often difficult sand or messy substances!) Include your child when making sensory bags by adding the non-messy parts into the bags, while you take care of the messy ones.
Avoiding messy crafts is also about how many materials the kids have access to. Think about what your child wants to do, and how many supplies they would need for it. If your kids don’t have a clear idea on what they want to do, or they wander quickly from one project to another, you can help them (and yourself) with ready-made craft boxes with the right amount of crafts. You can have a clean craft time if you give them a limited amount to work with, and it encourages them to use their imagination too.
Get the Kids to Help
Kids often go crazy during craft time. This can escalate quickly and end up in a big mess that is NOT limited to the craft area. One way to curb their enthusiasm, and avoiding having painted walls or carpets, is to let them know they will have to help with the cleanup once they are done with crafting.
Make it easy by giving them age-appropriate tasks like cleaning the paint brushes or putting paints away.
Have a Washing Station
Keep a bucket or bowl or warm soapy water close by so that your kids can wash excess paint or glue rather than finding a surface to wipe them on! You could also have a utensil washing station for paintbrushes or shoes depending on the activity.
Use Old Spare Clothes
Choose a few items that will be dedicated to arts and crafts. So kids know they don’t have to worry about what they’re wearing. These could be an old pair of pyjamas, t-shirts or even something you find in a charity shop so that you can put your kids in them and let them get messy.
Don’t Forget About Fun!
You might worry about the mess so much that you forget how fun craft time can be. With proper prep, crafts won’t ruin your house. Take some time off and join your child in crafting. This could be a chain snake, painting the bath, making paper ships that can float or making sock dolls. They will love you all the more for joining in, and you can play fun little games with newly crafted items.
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