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Childhood should be a dirty job: ideas for messy play

children on grass

Why I like seeing my children get messy.

If there’s one thing my children aren’t, it’s a ‘stainophobe’. They think nothing of making a mess or getting dirty when they’re playing together.

Let stains get in the way of having fun? No chance! Not in their world.

Yes, my children get messy. They love it.

And I love their carefree attitude towards this.

Being able to let yourself go so completely and play without worrying about a thing is a wonderful attribute to have.

I used to do the same when I was younger and I love joining in with my children’s games now, getting just as messy as them.

But somewhere in the middle I lost that carefree attitude. I grew up and got serious.

Confronted by an activity that might require a little mess, I’d worry about getting stains on my clothes or how I’d look behaving a certain way in front of other adults.

Those worries actually stopped me from doing one or 2 things in the past. I look back now and realise how silly that was.

I don’t want my children to grow up and get serious like that.

I want them to always have fun and not worry about how dirty their clothes get or how scraped their knees become. Having fun and laughing together is the best feeling in the world.

That’s why I feel so sad about some research conducted by Persil. It revealed that one in 3 children aged between 7 and 11 don’t like dirt and mess. Nearly half of those interviewed thought looking ‘cool’ is more important than ‘having fun outside’.

NOOOOOOO!

Persil’s on a mission to change this thankfully. The company took TV magician Ben Hanlin to a school in Staines (where else?!) where he performed the most live tricks in one day, encouraging pupils to get messy and embrace stains.

Persil has also been working with Play England on the top 7 fun, but potentially messy activities that parents should encourage their children to get stuck into in order to develop kids’ creativity. That’s one for every day of the week.

Here they are according to the type of mess they may create:

Cooking stains

You could learn to cook spaghetti, make pizza from scratch or bake cakes or shortbread biscuits in the kitchen.

Making iced shortbread biscuits

Fruit splashes 

Pick blackcurrants, make fresh fruit smoothies or try your hand at making my homemade strawberry and chocolate jam.

Strawberry Jam in Saucepan

Grassy smudges

Play football in the park, roll down a hill, or just lie down on a grassy patch in your garden or at your local park.

Lying on the grass, laughing children, children get messy

Mud splatters 

How about making a mud pie in the garden? Or you could always find some muddy puddles to jump in…

Jammy smears

Encourage your children to make their own jam sandwiches for a teddy bear’s picnic.

Strawberry and chocolate jam

Paint drops 

Let your children get creative with paint!

Painting Baker Ross Tea Light Holders, children get messy

Water marks

Some seasonal ideas include finding some frogspawn in the spring, having water fights with friends in summer and going sledging in the winter.

What messy activities do your children like the best?

Thank you to Persil for sending me the video of Ben Hanlin with the very lovely, personalised intro. You can find out more about Persil’s campaign to encourage children to get dirty by visiting its website or looking for #persilstainmagic on twitter.

27 Comments

  1. My children love getting dirty and we often have grass and blackberry stains on their white dresses, but we wouldn’t have it any other way! It is apart of being young and exploring and learning 🙂 x

  2. YES!!!! Love this post!! Kids should most definitely get messy!! My daughter is a complete tom boy and plays football 3 times a week and is often covered in mud!! I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂 xx

  3. I have always tried to encourage my children to do messy play. They love it and we always have a lot of fun. Many adults we have encountered do not agree though and only see the mess that here is to clean up afterwards. It is a shame as it limits what the children do at times.

  4. Getting messy is a natural part of childhood but I have to admit I do get a little upset when clothes are ruined by grass stains that I can’t get out. If we are doing something especially messy I get them to strip off or put on their scruffs first so I can embrace the fun rather than worry about the stains!

  5. My kids have absolutely no concerns about getting dirty. I keep a hose by the front door and the back door, that’s how much mess they make on a regular basis. And our kitchen regularly gets hit by flour bombs. I do sometimes wish they were as enthusiastic about cleaning up afterwards though!

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