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How to do messy play the easy way

Avoiding the messy play? Here is how we enjoy it together

The thought of letting your toddler loose with tubs of paint can fill most of us with dread and sure at first we had hand prints on the sofa, on my t-shirt and by the time I had got it out Jonah had scooped most of into his mouth. However with a few tweaks here and there and a little perseverance today we enjoyed a lovely morning potato and hand printing!

The first thing I learned was to make it really quick and easy to set up and put away. Lets face it, 20 minutes painting is a huge achievement with a 20 month old and so making it as painless as possible to pop back away again if they decide they are hungry, tired or just fancy a good old tantrum makes it a lot less frustrating.

We now have a crafty box where I dump it all once we are finished. I also throw things in like toilet rolls tubes, egg boxes, magazines etc to grow our craft supplies.

We tried to keep the box reasonably cheap to set up. Jonah isn't exactly Picasso... yet!

A trip to our nearest pound store got us a large pad of coloured sugar paper, a box of ready mixed paint, a set of painting sponges and brushes and a plastic table cover.

We found Jonah's old weaning bowls were perfect for paint palettes. They hold just enough paint and are wide enough for him to dip printing blocks and sponges.

All I do now is throw the table cover over his play table- which I don't bother washing after each use. Paint is paint, it dries and he will only add more to it. I quickly prep while he has his snack and fill up the bowls of paint, put plenty of paper on the table for him to move onto and get his BIBaDO ready!

Yes.. BIBaDO strikes again! We loved it so much for meal times we thought it would be ideal for keeping Jonah clean during his messy play. It means that Jonah can be as creative, messy and adventurous as he likes and I don't have to worry. It saves me time changing him. There is no need to change into messy clothes, the BIBaDO covers him to his knees and when standing at the table, this has always been enough.

Today I attempted to make some Potato printing blocks. I managed to chisel out a stariisshh... shape a very wonky letter J. Jonah didn't mind what they were although I felt quite proud of myself as he recognised it as a 'star' and he soon got stuck in.


For a very hyperactive, fidgety little boy, he stood for 20 minutes doing 'dip dip' and printing away. My job was to keep the clean paper coming! We then moved onto printing our hands and he enjoyed using the sponge paint brushes to make lots of different marks.

It was also a good opportunity to talk about colours and shapes too.

After he was finished I whipped off the BIBaDO, we washed our hands. After washing out the bowls, sponges and potatos, I left them to dry. Threw it all in the box at the end and in true mum style popped the table with its cover on outside the dry off so I can throw that in too afterwards. Done and ready for more tomorrow!

Emma Beardmore

Emma Beardmore is the founder and owner of Just Jonah. Wife to Lewis and mother of Jonah, Emma's passion is all things kids, and she loves nothing more than family time.

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