Thursday, September 22, 2011

Neat Freak

I spent the bulk of Tuesday morning at Lily's new therapy clinic.

While she was in speech therapy, I had a meeting with her occupational therapist to go over the results of the evaluation she did on the Bird.  For those of you who may be unsure of what occupational therapy is, click here to read more about it.

During the meeting, I was reminded of how important it is to let kids get down and dirty and just play

So many times, I veto an activity simply because I don't want to have to clean up the mess afterward.  And in the Bird's case, odds are quite good it's going to be a really big mess.

How lame is that?

Sometimes, in an effort to avoid frustration, I don't even let Lily attempt certain tasks or activities.  

For example, Lily doesn't like to roll a ball back and forth not because she doesn't like to play ball but because she's not sure exactly what to do with a ball.  It's difficult for her so she avoids it.  And I'm just making excuses for her and not pushing her to try.

Kind of like the first time I picked up a baton and decided I wanted to take twirling lessons.  Then had a panic attack before the first actual class because I realized I couldn't twirl.  And decided that since it was hard for me, I just needed to drop out before I ever went to the first lesson.  

Avoiding hard things is something that will carry you far in life, right?

Well, of course not.

That's why you take lessons.  

Or keep trying even when something doesn't come easy.  

Even if the only reason you keep doing it is because the therapist is not going to leave you alone until you roll that silly ball.  Or your parents refuse to let you drop out of twirling because "Askews don't quit" but you know the real reason is because they already paid the first month's tuition and bought you a hot pink leotard and baton.


Playing is just flat out good for kids.  

And it's even more important for special needs kids.  They need the sensory input that play provides, even if it means encountering some frustration at first.

The good news is that so much of good old fashioned play is actually therapeutic.  Things like piggy back rides, swinging, riding on shoulders, jumping rope, riding a tricycle, and coloring are doing all kinds of great things for your kiddo's nervous system, muscular system, brain and more.

But I was also reminded of how much I need to allow Lily the freedom to get messy.

Exploring with finger paints, play-doh, mud, even food.... are super for the senses and just plain fun.  For kids like Lily who don't always like to have lots of messy stuff on their hands, it's important to just keep trying and gently pushing them through those sensory issues.

As for myself, I need to just push through my "neat freak" issues.

Lily has a nice large shower with plenty of room to play.  I could strip her down to a Pull-up and let her paint in the shower.  Clean-up would be a snap.  Newspapers under her chair at the table could catch bits of Play-doh that fall and then I could just roll it up and throw it away.  Once it finally cools off down here, we could also do some of the messier activities outside where a little paint on the ground isn't going to hurt anyone.

The point is that it's more important for Lily to play than it is for me to worry about the mess.  And thinking of messy play as therapy is enough for me to give it a go.

I have loads of books on fun things to do with kiddos but I also found a few things online that I'd thought I'd share with you ladies out there interested in giving your kids a chance to engage in some messy therapeutic play.

How about some lovely shaving cream mixed with food coloring for the bathtub?

Here's a great recipe for homemade finger paints that you know are safe for those kiddos like the Bird who are known to sample the craft supplies:

[July 22 2010 229[5].jpg]

And here's a great activity to do with those finger paints:

Doesn't this play-doh look awesome?  Click here for the recipe.

And here's another great recipe for making play-doh with jello, something I will not be making for the Bird since she is sure to eat it if it smells fruity and delicious!

I'd love to hear other suggestions on fun things you've done with your children.  Leave a comment and share!

Now I'm going to release my death grip on my Swiffer and get messy!


  1. Hey Lana! You can also paint with eagle brand milk and a little food coloring. And it dries really shiny.

  2. LOL!I think this is going to be harder on you than Lily! She is going to have some major fun. From one former "neat freak and perfectionist" to another...You can do it! It's ok to "live" in your home and feel comfortable without worrying about every little thing being in its place or a little bit of dust in the corner. There is a difference in "lived in" and filth and I know you keep a good house. You can always clean it up at a later time. This will allow you to really enjoy Lily's play with her. Wish I had learned this lesson when my children were at this age. So...relax and enjoy yourself. :)

  3. I have a friend who's little girl has sensory issues and has benefitted from a 'sandbox' that has rice and beans in it. It has toys in it, but she also likes to stand in it and feel the textures on her feet. They actually use an under the bed box and set it on top of a big sheet. Just a thought!

  4. Dannette - I love eagle brand milk! I could drink it with a straw. So worst case scenario is that Lily and I ditch the art project part and just have a really sugary snack. :) Thanks for the tip!

    Teresa - I'll try my best to take your advice!

    Cecilia - I've used a "bean sandbox" previously but beans went everywhere! Lily definitely wanted to get in the container with the beans and mine wasn't big or deep enough. I think that's what created such a mess. Good idea on the under bed box and sheet. Plus, I could definitely do this one outside once it's cooler.

  5. One of my first paintings was with chocolate pudding. It makes a mess, but it is edible!

  6. Getting messy is my children's favorite thing to do! As a neat freak it's taken some time to lay back and watch. One of their favs is to make the Mississippi River in the backyard with mud - they get covered head to toe. I've also taped paper to our fence and let them fingerpaint out there, then you can just hose them off! Good luck, she's going to have a blast and you'll have some great memories and pictures to look back on!

  7. Ashlynn enjoyed "painting" the fence with water. It's so simple and not messy. I'd give her a bucket and paint brushes and send her on her way. Since Little Miss Bird loves water so much, she might enjoy this if you haven't tried it yet. Building tents was also big at our house.

  8. Karla - will definitely be doing the pudding. Love art and snack projects in one!

    Leslie - taping the paper to the fence is a great idea. Won't blow away, more comfortable to stand than squat in the grass. And love outside - bigger messes just don't matter as much.

    Amy - you are right on! Painting with water will be right up the Bird's alley!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...