close up of toddler hands using rolling pin on playing dough in a sheet pan
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How to Host a Stress-Free Messy Playdate

Thank you Brawny® Tear-A-Square® for sponsoring this post. Think of all the ways you can “Put a Square There”!

Having kids means encountering a LOT of messes of all types and sizes. On a normal day, my 2-year-old son is both accidentally making messes and purposely pouring cups of juice and water on the floor, or in toys, just to watch what happens. My floor is pretty much always sticky. I try to encourage this exploration and hands-on learning to an extent, so I decided to host a messy playdate with some local mom’s group mamas. Giving toddlers, babies, and big kids an opportunity to make a huge mess within a safe space fosters learning, exploration, and fun without added stress on the parents! So how do you host one? Keep reading!

kids with play dough at messy palydate

food at messy playdate

Get messy playdate RSVPS

This is important — when working with a mess, you’ll want to limit the number of people at the playdate so things don’t turn into a teenage house party. The tricky part is actually getting the solid RSVPs versus a bunch of “Maybe” or unanswered invites. Even the “Yes” group may message you at the last minute due to a kiddo’s nap being thrown off or something coming up — there’s always something when you have kids— so you may want to account for the last-minute cancels that could roll in. Another important piece to getting an RSVP? Speaking with the parents and stating upon invite that it’s not a drop-off party (unless you’re cool with that). Having parents stay with their kids for the playdate allows you to have some hangout time, as well as help with all the kids in the different mess zones.

painting at messy playdate

Create safe, messy playdate zones

Because no one wants their entire house covered in chalk, glue, and whatever else the kids are into, it’s important to establish what areas are going to be the messy zones, and to prep those areas. Remove any items you wouldn’t want other kids to play with or touch, and add Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels.

The first zone at my party was the food area— with Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels, I was able to offer both square-size paper towels for finger foods, and large paper towels for food messes. The quarter size sheets were perfect for handing finger food snacks to the kiddos (no plates needed!) while the half sheet paper towels made food presentation and holding a little more food (for adults) a breeze. I’m excited to keep using these quarter sheets instead of buying napkins, and also for those little playdough area setups.

I brought out a big, soft play mat to cover a good chunk of my living room rug (and provide a cushion for the babies/tots) for our homemade play dough area. This “zone” was originally meant for all the parents with babies who RSVP’d, but was a lot of fun for everyone who came. In this area, we had pots with a bit of flour, cooking tools, pans, homemade playing dough, and Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels. My third mess zone was on a tiled area next to the soft mat area. I laid out a tablecloth under an easily wipeable coffee table, and toddler table and chairs set; then, I added some construction paper and paint with cars. The kids were able to finger paint and paint using the little paint-covered cars to make lines. Another roll of Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels was placed in this section so that an easy cleanup solution was never too far. Using Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels to clean up any messes outside the soft play and table areas was easy, too, since I chose an area with tile floor. The absorbent Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels can be used in full, half, or quarter-sized sheets to match the mess you’re cleaning up without the extra waste. 

Make the messy playdate fun

OK, so this playdate is naturally fun — you’ve set up safe boundaries and allowed kids to have a blast making messes without having to say, “No, don’t touch that,” or “No, don’t do that,” a dozen times. But there were still a few games left to play — one where the kids used Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels to create something (which became a runway in my hallway that was folded up for future paint time activities) and a “clean up the mess” game. The kids loved running back and forth during their runway game and the parents were thrilled for the kids to get out some after-nap energy. After the kids ran around in that safe zone, parents helped them clean up the big messes. They appreciated how well Brawny® Tear-A-Square® paper towels picked up everything from paint to spills so well and allowed for different size sheets (I mean, who wouldn’t?)!



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