If you’re anything like me, you likely feel like you have it together when your life and surroundings are nicely organized. But when it comes to playing and learning for our littles, tolerating a little mess goes a long way in helping them grow. I know, I know. Less mess stress seems borderline impossible. But I promise, you can come around to embracing the mess once you wrap your head around the benefits and invest your littles in their own clean-up.

less mess stress with sensory play

Cleaning up after your students (or your own kids) is annoying, but it doesn’t have to be your responsibility or burden to bear- we just need to be proactive! Once you understand how to embrace it, messy play allows children to find solutions to their problems on their own through trial and error and helps them find their way out of different situations. It builds resilience and responsibility in them naturally while engaging in activities that are also fun to do.

Focus on the value offered through the mess, the increase in engagement it causes, and how it helps your littles embrace their intuition. Sensory play is messy and maybe anxiety-inducing for organized minds like me, but it has tremendous value to offer and once you get into it… there’s no looking back.

So, here are some tips for you to have less mess stress:

  • Explicitly state your expectations to your children. They often don’t understand it themselves until they see it modelled and repeated.
  • Model the learning if your littles aren’t able to do it themselves – help them understand your words with actions. Actions speak louder than words after all!
  • Know that most of your littles don’t care about the mess as much as you do (and we can learn from them!)
  • Understand and adapt accordingly if a child is uncomfortable with the mess. Some children do learn better when things are organized, or when they feel completely in control. You can slowly introduce them to messy situations and help them increase their tolerance over time.
  • Make sure you’re not spending your whole time cleaning the mess (your littles should be doing this too!) but appreciating the learning it offers and noticing all the amazing growth.

Want to learn more? Listen to this episode of A Playful Podcast for all my tips and tricks in detail.

Want to learn more about sensory play? Join us at Camp Kinder this summer and checkout Courtney’s session all about the “ins and outs of sensory play”. Click here to register!

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Kindergarten specialist turned curriculum writer. Mom, wannabe baker and lover of early 2000s Disney Channel (hello, Lizzie McGuire and HSM). Enthusiast of ponytails, pancakes and helping Canadian kindergarten teachers stress less by simplifying their planning and re-igniting their love of play-based learning. Here to help you take back your weekends and love teaching on week days.

Or, send me an email at mariah@aplayfulpurpose.com