Recently Mamacourage initiated a Messy Play Linky, which has been so far taken on by Wonderful Wagon and Where Wishes Come From.

Mamacourage wants people to write about doing messy play with their kids. Messy Play…

grants children a precious kind of freedom. There are no rules; there is no goal that needs to be achieved. They can choose to create, dismantle, transform or destroy. Children are met with boundaries in almost every aspect of their life. They are told what it “right” and what is “wrong”. They are constantly trying to meet conscious and subconscious expectations. A lot of this is necessary in order to function in the real world, but it is also lot of pressure to impose on a young, creative brain. What a beautiful gift it is, then, to offer them a session of free, unstructured chaos.

Whilst the opportunities for messy play do have to be created, or at least allowed to happen they don’t have to be organised actively. Sometimes the best moments of education and happiness for kids is when you just let things happen on their own with out our interference.

This morning for example Tomás played for ages with our Sand/Water box while I hung up the washing. (Who knew I could be so adventurous- hanging up washing in this weather). Now at the beginning of the summer the sand pit had been filled with nice new and clean sand for the kids to play with. However as kids are over half the sand has now been spread around the garden and flower petals, leaves, stones and other bits and pieces of dirt from the garden have contaminated the sand. Add to this the recent rain fall and you have what would be best described as an accident waiting to happen when a 1 year old gets at it. But as he played, I remembered Mamacourage’s post and thought to myself that if we were at the beach I wouldn’t stop the kids playing in the sea, which is infinitely dirtier than our mix of sand and water.

Looks like the sea side in a box

Looks like the sea side in a box

By stepping back and letting him play he had a great time pouring the water, yes getting some sand in his hair but he experimented with what happened when he lifted the sand in the shovel, how the water poured etc. before he moved on to something else to play on.

Which lead me to consider how messy play is a bit like life. If we relax and let it happen, there will be mess, broken hearts, dreams and promises. Things will not always happen as planned and sometimes your better not planning otherwise your own hopes will be dashed. But life when we let it happen has a lot to teach us.

Even as I write this the mess which is our home life, caused an enforced break as Tomás firstly wanted me to swing him and then as we sat down and played with each other got into hysterical fits of laughter as we blew his dummy to each other from our mouths. He only got up and left me when he heard my wife and daughter singing in the living room and they sounded more interesting than me trying to throw a ball to him. And even as I finish this now he’s back to me, wanting to play or get fed, or both.