I think messy play is really important for children; to explore the feel of different textures and enjoy creating with them. Mud is probably one of the messiest we do. All the children have enjoyed making mud pies, and we have created a “mud kitchen” from an old toy cooker and pots. We’ve invented a game of “The Great British Mud Bake Off”. I try to ensure they only play with this in the afternoon when they can get straight into a bubble bath when finished, as, one child in particular, gets absolutely covered!
While they have all enjoyed messy play, I feel it’s especially important for our adopted children. Sometimes children can miss out on normal developmental opportunities in their early years; like when toddlers squeeze all their food through their fingers before eating it! So, catching up a little later is important to help them progress developmentally. Children who have experienced early trauma often build up a wall of control around them, in an attempt to create a fragile sense of security. I wonder if messy play allows to them to let go a little and work through some of their emotions. I also wonder whether getting physically messy, and finding that they are still loved and accepted may help them to realise that they can also make mistakes in life and will not be rejected for these.
It’s a gradual process, and I’m very much learning as we walk this journey together. Of course my heart sinks sometimes at yet more mess to clear up and clothes to wash, and I’m sure I both say “no” too often and allow my tiredness to be expressed. Yet I pray for grace and strength and understanding toward my precious, much loved children. And I’ll keep recommending mud therapy!