In Praise Of Mess And Making

In Praise Of Mess And Making

I am convinced the world can be divided into two types of parents; those who positively embrace paint and glitter and play-doh and general mess-making creativity, and those who will stop at nothing to avoid allowing such irritations into their home. I sympathise with the latter because I used to be one of them.

We were discussing this theory among the Playpennies team recently, and as a team we do indeed fit neatly into those categories.

One of our team said resolutely: "I don't do sand, glitter or felt tips."

But that prompted another of our team to say:

"Wait, there are mums who ban glitter? What is a world without glitter? And NO FELT TIPS? My daughter would have left home."

"My kids have to ban me from the glitter," chimed in another Playpennies mum.

Me? I am pretty much a reformed craft-hater. I used to avoid all the messy play stuff, primarily because I found it kept my lads entertained for all of about six minutes and then clearing the stuff up took the rest of the damned day.

But maybe I've mellowed in my old age, or maybe having a daughter whose love of glitter seems to be part of her very DNA has relaxed my approach. All I know is I now positively embrace messy play. I'll never be one of those mums who sets up elaborate 'invitations to play' and my craft supplies leave a lot to be desired but when the kids ask if they can paint or get creative in any way whatsoever, I pretty much holler 'Hell, yeah!'

Because I am convinced that messy play just does my kids good, and offers a really compelling counter to all the screens and stuffy school work that seem to dominate their little lives. Factor in that we live within walking distance of the beach, and I have come to accept that sand will never not be strewn all over every room in my house. I could spend my days indulging in the Sisyphean task of trying to sweep up sand 24/7 or I could just embrace it and accept that sandy floors equals many hours of happy larking about on the beach.

Which is why I loved this recent Guardian piece in praise of making by Paula Briggs, director of AccessArt and author of Drawing Projects for Children and Make, Build, Create: Sculpture Projects for Children.

"We work a lot in schools and see 10-year-olds who can't use scissors. We see art squeezed into obedient slots that require no mess, quick results and easy success. We see children who have never had to solve the problem of a sculpture that doesn't balance; never had an argument with a lump of stuff; and never learnt the need to rebuild… We see children who have never felt success from using a tool to help them manipulate material, never felt the pride of producing something for others and never felt the optimism of daring to ask: "would it work if … ?"

I recommend reading the piece for yourself but suffice it to say, it has inspired me to get the glitter out again right now. Yes, it'll mean finding glitter in my hair for days but the kids will remember the fun long after I've forgotten about the interminable clean-up operation.

Plus, if you must have a house with sand stuck to every floor, pretty much the best way I can think of to make it more tolerable is to mingle it with glitter.

We'd love to hear your views on this. Are you a mess and making mum, or do you despise glitter and detest paint? Come and share your views over on our Facebook page or by leaving us a comment below.

And if you're a fan of all things messy play, don't forget to check out our vouchers page to search for money-off savings from your favourite craft stores.

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