Everyone Needs to Get Messy, Especially Kids

My kids love to make messes. They’re not as enthusiastic about cleanup. At my most stressful, I tend to stand in the midst of their disaster area and say, “Well, don’t want to clean it up either! What if I decided to stop shopping for food and making dinner and cleaning your clothes??”

But those are not the sort of messes I wish to talk about today. Instead, I want to talk real messes, messes like: mud, water, dirt, homemade slime, and toasted marshmallows.

My 8-year-old came home from his Cub Scout Day Camp this week, his first time going. Covered head to toe in dirt and holding what he’d purchased at their little store, he glowed. They’d spent all day doing fun activities. They watched skits, shot a B.B. gun, and crafted. He had so. much. fun!

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Nothing warms my heart more than seeing deep, satisfied happiness on my kids’ faces. I see it when they are proud of something they worked on. There’s a flash of it when I laugh at a joke they told. There’s an almost tangible feeling of it when they’re arm-deep in sand at the beach, making castles or forts or whatnot.

We parents tend to think that fun has to be expensive. We buy gaming systems or children’s museum passes. We plan expensive vacations. We fork over cash for opening night at the movies and their overpriced concessions. We pay to attend the trampoline park, amusement park, waterslide park, or fun center park.

Why not just go to a park park?

Even if you’re not near a park or a backyard, you can still look up homemade crafts for home. I know slime’s extremely popular. Or Play-Doh. Or -even better- cookie dough.

Hands-on, tactile activities are more important for brain development than ‘strategy’ in a computer game. Interactions with physical materials help ground children (and adults) in reality. And, as I mentioned earlier, creating something with your own hands brings a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Besides, who doesn’t like to get messy?



Here’s what I wrote this past week:

Sunday, July 14: Advised everyone to go jump in a sprinkler in “When the Summer Gets Hot, Get Sprinklers.

Monday, July 15: “Bedtime Routine Haiku.” If only they’d stay in bed.

Tuesday, July 16: Shared a quote by Ewan McGregor.

Wednesday, July 17: Recommended hitting after-holiday sales with “Shopping Tip 1.”

Thursday, July 18: “Guess I’ll Keep Him” -a snippet about my second son.

Friday, July 19: When life gets overrun with weeds, “Stop and Smell the Bindweed.”

Saturday, July 20: Shared Batman’s Mom‘s tweet about her snarky son.

Sunday, July 21: That’s today!


©2019 Chelsea Owens

Food Tip 6

We’ve had a lot of houseguests here for the last two days. Most of them are children, our nieces and a nephew.

Having them around has been fun for our own boys, who’ve only had themselves to smack around for the long summer days -not that there’s been any smacking, of course. The worst altercations so far have been slight tiffs regarding Legos.

Having them around has also increased The Meals Game to Maximum Level.

Where we once could throw together a few sandwiches or a pot of soup, I find myself instead considering the entire side of lamb at The World’s Biggest Costco or gauging the capacity of our largest pans.

Today’s tip has less to do with amount of food, though, and more to do with stretching what you have. Like, these apples:


We only had six apples in the house and I needed a side for lunch. (Which, in case you wondered, was instant Ramen noodles.) Knowing this, I employed a little trick I’ve learned with my boys.

Slice thinner.

Yes, it sounds simple. That’s because it is simple. Using our sharpest, nicest knife, I cut all of the apple slices thinner. The kids know they ought to take a fair number each, and feel better about being allowed ten instead of four.

This trick also works for cookie dough (make the cookies smaller), grapes (cut them in half), and cheese slices (I like them nearly transparent anyway). Go ahead; try it.

Baking Tip 2

I am a messy cook. This is primarily because I hate doing dishes, but also because I have children. I cannot feasibly show up to my kitchen in a stark-white apron, lay out all my ingredients, measure things precisely, or even pre-mix the butter with the non-lumpy sugar.


As my neighbors can attest, I rarely even have the ingredients and often run to their house to borrow a cup of flour and a few eggs.

I am therefore going to pass on my little trick for measuring flour that is still accurate, but not painful.


Whisper it. Feel it.

The “proper” way to measure flour into a cup is by scooping it in by soft spoonfuls. Then, one levels off the top with a knife. In my method, I tilt the flour container to get a good fall of loosely-sifted flour, gently puff the measuring cup into that, and sort of loosely settle it around the cup. I hit it on the side of the container a few times to get the extra off the top and it’s done.

If I had the time and stark-white apron, I’d get you video. For now, use your imaginations. It’s good for you.


Photo Credit:
Calum Lewis
Kristiana Pinne