I’m not the kind of mom that embraces the dirt, the forts, and the piles of stuff that result from littles at play. But I recognize it's value.
I admit it...I don’t love messes. I’m not the kind of mom that embraces the dirt, the forts, and the piles of stuff that result from littles at play. But I recognize the value of sensory play. I know that when kids are engaging several senses at once, they are building important cognitive skills, learning about cause and effect, and being creative. In fact, sensory play is associated with better outcomes when feeding selective eaters. These are all skills that preemies may need additional help with mastering. Over the years I have come up with a few tips to make sensory play less messy, so everyone can enjoy experiences with materials like play-doh and sand. However, I have nothing to offer when it comes to glitter...that is where I draw the line!
When Possible Play Outside
When weather permits, set up messy activities outside. Just being out in nature is a sensory experience in and of itself. Some of my favorite outdoor sensory experiences are making mud pies and playing in a sandbox/bin. A good rinse off is required before anyone comes back inside.
Play in the Bathtub
Kinetic sand is one of my favorite sensory play materials. I always set my kids up in the bathtub to play with it. I plug the drain, fill the tub with kinetic sand and a variety of scoops and tools. The tub is the perfect container to keep the sand from spreading all over the house, and they are already in the bathtub if a quick clean-up is required. I also find that kinetic sand never sticks to the porcelain bathtub.
Purchase a Wipeable Table Cloth
Whenever it is time to create with paint, I get out my reusable table cover. It is made of plastic-coated fabric and I found it on clearance for a few dollars. It protects my dining table and makes clean-up so easy. Once it is dry, I fold it up and store it away for next time.
Water is a Great Option
Remember, water is a great option for sensory play. My kids really like it when I add a few ice cubes with small toys frozen inside. Gosh, you could even add some soap and a sponge and let them clean stuff...genius
I will never be able to not care about the messes my kids make. But I also don’t want my neat-freak tendencies to keep my kids from the joy of squishing mud between their toes or stretching slime between their fingers. If you have ever felt the same way, hopefully, these tips can help you embrace the mess too!
We are a month into a new year and everyone is talking about resolutions and goals for the next 365 days. What if simply flipping the calendar isn’t enough to erase the discouragement of the past? What if everyone’s new found motivation is making you feel resentful that you aren’t in the same place? Over the course of any career (regardless of the type of work that you do), it’s normal to have times of great accomplishment and success and periods of disappointment. While discontent is uncomfortable, it often can be an amazing catalyst to propel you forward to something even greater in the long term. Until that day though, here are some strategies that can help you to embrace where you are.
Create a “good for you” file
I was given some advice in my very first professional job, from an amazing woman and mentor. She said to take every thank you note and every positive email, and save it in a “good for you” file. When you are feeling discouraged, get out all of these kudos and reflect on all you have already accomplished.
Conduct a community audit
Comparison to others robs you of joy. If the people you are spending time with, or the way that you are spending your time is not making you feel good about yourself...get rid of it. This not only applies to people you know in real life, but to your social media feeds as well. Surround yourself with people and endeavors that make you feel worthy and energized.
Set intentions instead of resolutions
Resolutions can have a negative connotation. They are firm and rigid, and if you stumble just once you can feel like you have blown it for the whole year. I challenge you to reframe how you think about goal setting, and set intentions instead. Intentions are flexible, and allow for grace. Intentions enable you to improve and change while still being gentle with yourself.
Discouragement is mostly a temporary state of being, but that doesn’t mean you must grin and bare it. Allow yourself a little time to wallow, and then try to move yourself and your work back to a place of contentment and fulfillment.