Sandpits, mud pies and painting – let’s face it, messy play is best kept outdoors for a reason. It turns out that a bit of dirt is good for our immune systems, which means that playing outside is all the more important. With lots of fun things to do, you won’t be able to stop your kids from getting totally messy, but there are some things you can do to keep them as clean as possible when playing outdoors.
Depending on what activity they are participating in, the easiest and effective way of keeping your child clean when playing outside is to dress them in suitable clothing for play.
If they’re painting, cover them in an apron and wellies are needed if they’re splashing in puddles. Dress them in warm waterproofs in rainy weather and sunhats when it’s sunny. Outdoor play can happen in all weather conditions, you just need suitable clothing to stay clean, warm and wrap up in.
Cover up the play space
If you’re taking an indoor activity, outdoors such as playing with paints, sand, water or foam, it can be a good idea to cover up the play space. Using an old bed sheet, blanket or vinyl tablecloth will stop your child from getting grass stains on their clothes while playing – especially if the area is damp. This will also keep the play in one area, making it easier to clean away afterwards. It will also reduce the likelihood of paint damage to your garden’s patio or grass.
Keep sensory things in boxes
When playing outdoors it can be a good idea to keep sand, soap and foam in plastic boxes. Just like covering an area, you will limit the space that will cause mess. Creating sensory bins and limiting materials will give your kids the chance to get messy without spilling any on their clothes or garden.
Create an outside wash stations
For something to clean hands quickly and efficiently, without traipsing mud into the house time and time again, set up a disposable wash station near an outside tap. Hang up a pair of tights with a bar of soap in them, within reach of an outside tap. It’s a very crude creation but it’ll get the job done. Alternatively, you could fill a bucket with warm water and keep a nail brush nearby, if you don’t have a tap fitted.
Let the kids clean up too
Don’t leave yourself with all the hard work, teach your kids the importance of staying clean and invite them to clean up with you. Obviously, you won't give them any harsh cleaning chemicals to use but if things are spilled, encourage them to tidy up. You can even make it into a game, such as asking them to pick up anything with a certain colour. Not only is this helpful for you, it can be a great activity that’ll get them moving and feeling involved as well as keeping your garden and them as clean as possible.