Help Them Learn: 5 Messy Activities For Kids Cloudy with a chance of wine Are you a clean freak? I am. And while my intense need to have everything sanitized, sorted, organized, and in its place has served me well throughout my career, it has made my life as a work-at-home mom living in a 3-bedroom condo…challenging. My mother often laughs when she recalls all of the conversations we had during my first few months as a parent, when I was adamant our beautiful home would not be taken over by plastic monstrosities, that toys would never litter our living room floor, and messy activities involving paints and sensory-rich ingredients would be reserved for school. I was so set on becoming the next June Cleaver, with perfectly pressed clothes and a perfectly run home, that I failed to consider how ridiculous and unrealistic I was being. And then my daughter started crawling, and walking, and talking, and before I knew it, our living room not only looked like a scene out of toy store, but I started spending my evenings searching for cool sensory activities on Pinterest the 2 of us could experience together. As it turns out, parenthood is much more enjoyable when you learn to let go of expectations and live in the moment, and let’s face it: making messes is a great learning opportunity. According to the Swiffer Cleaning Index, while the majority (72 percent) of parents feel that letting kids make a mess helps encourage their creativity, nearly all (95 percent) have said ‘no’ to their kids’ request because of the mess it could make. And successful career professionals (myself included!) attest to mess-making opportunities as key creative and educational moments that can lead to a child’s future occupational success. So today I’m joining Swiffer and actress Sarah Michelle Gellar to encourage YOU to say ‘Yes to the Mess’ with 5 of my favorite messy activities for kids! Because with Swiffer, you’re able to get a thorough clean in minutes! 1. Sandbox Scavenger Hunt When it’s too cold to leave our condo in the winter months, I often get out our ‘sandbox’, which keeps my daughter entertained for hours. Creating this sensory activity took next to no time – I just filled a huge plastic container with cornmeal – and the possibilities are endless. Sometimes I organize a scavenger hunt that coincides with the things my daughter is learning at school, but most of the time I just get out a bunch of shovels and small containers and let my daughter go wild! 2. Shaving Cream Alphabet Practice When my daughter was very small, she refused to partake in activities that would make her hands dirty or sticky, and while this initially thrilled me, I soon realized it was going to hold her back at school. So I started to introduce messier activities to her at home in an effort to try and make her more comfortable with different textures, and the first time I sprayed a glob of shaving cream on our coffee table, she was on cloud 9. I have since discovered a slew of other fabulous shaving cream activities for kids, and our current favorite is to spread a bunch on a baking tin and practice our letter writing. You can do this with your fingers, but if you want to step up the letter writing practice, consider using Q-Tips! 3. Foot Painting Never, in a million years, did I think I would let my daughter paint with her feet, but when she did this (ridiculously fun) activity with her friends at preschool last year, I figured I would give it a try. And you know what? It’s the PERFECT way to have fun when the weather is too miserable to go outside, and my Swiffer Wet Jet cleans the mess up in next to no time. 4. Blow Dryer Painting I recently heard about blow dryer painting, and since my daughter is scared of the sound of my hair dryer (which is hilarious since it was one of the only things that calmed her when she was a colicky infant), I figured I’d give it a try. It ended up being loads of fun, and we now have tons of artwork to make greeting cards for birthdays and end-of-year teacher gifts! I suggest using slightly watered down paints for this activity as they spread more easily. 5. Playdoh Learning Mats If my daughter had her way, she would play with playdoh all day long, and while I used to save this activity for special occasions since she has an amazing talent for getting Playdoh EVERYWHERE, I recently decided to make up some alphabet cards for us to practice together. This has been a fabulous activity to help develop my daughter’s fine motor skills, and while she still manages to cover our floor with playdoh pieces, my Swiffer products help me clean it up ASAP. The belief that messes are a part of a child’s development is increasing with the generations. In fact, 75 perfect of millennial parents think that letting kids make messes encourages their creativity – compared to just 59 percent of boomer parents. Also? Nearly all parents (97 percent) think that young children learn a lot from cleaning up messes. So before you say ‘no’ when your kids ask you to get out the finger paints, playdoh, or any other mess-inducing activity, remember that Swiffer offers easy-to-use sweeping, mopping, and dusting tools for virtually every household surface, which makes saying ‘Yes to the Mess’ in the spirit of letting your kids have fun and learn news skills that much easier: Swiffer Wet Jet: All-in-one system that cleans floors thoroughly using cleaning solutions specially formulated to break up and dissolve tough messes. Swiffer Sweeper: A 2-in-1 hard surface sweeping and mopping tool. The dry cloth has deep ridges and grooves that conform to the surface of your floor to trap and lock dirt, dust and hair, while the wet cloth dissolves dirt and grime and traps it away, giving you an amazing clean. Swiffer Duster: With Dust Lock Adhesive,™ and 50 percent more fibers than regular dusters, this duster’s amazing all-around design cleans deep into grooves to trap and lock up to 3X more dust than a feather duster. I have been using these products for YEARS, and when I had the opportunity to give a Swiffer Green Box, complete with a Swiffer Sweeper Small Box Starter Kit, Wet Refills, Dry Refills, a Swiffer Duster, and Duster Refills, to a friend earlier this week, her reaction was priceless. We had just dropped our little ones off at Kindergarten, walked over to the local coffee shop for our morning fix, and when we got back to our cars and I handed over my special treat for her, she (literally) screamed and told me I had just shaved a good 3 hours off of her weekly cleaning routine. As a mom of FOUR boys who likes getting messy, she feels like she spends 90% of her life cleaning her floors, and when I asked her what she did with the extra time she saved with her Swiffer products when I saw her yesterday, she showed me a set of freshly manicured nails. How’s THAT for making someone’s week? Don’t forget to follow Swiffer on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and remember: say ‘Yes to the Mess’! I am part of the Swiffer campaign with Mom It Forward Blogger Network and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own. If you liked these messy activities for kids, please share them on Pinterest! And if you’re looking for more ways to have fun with your kids, please follow our Kids board where we share all kinds of fabulous ideas! Dani is a 30-something freelance writer and social media consultant who has an unhealthy love for makeup, hair, and fashion. She lives with her husband and 4-year-old daughter in Toronto, Canada and hopes to move to a warmer climate someday. Preferably tomorrow. This is an excerpt from the article Help Them Learn: 5 Messy Activities For Kids which originally appeared on http://www.cloudywithachanceofwine.com/.