Big mess? No big deal!

Posted by ~Summer~ on January 16, 2012
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I was never the neat freak or the cleanliness fanatic back in school. On some days, my uniform wasn't perfectly ironed, I would miraculously find bus tickets dated one year back in my purse, and I probably didn't wash my school bag for an entire year.

Not one with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I don't need my clothes in be arranged in the rainbow sequence or my books to be organised from A to Z. Ok, I don't even need my clothes to be folded in the same manner and it is fine if my books are kept in different parts of the house.

Well, it's not like I can live in an overly-chaotic house. I don't like dirty dishes to be left overnight (though I can bear with it if I'm really lethargic), I don't like Angel's toys to be strewn all over the place, and it irks me when I see a lump of hair lying on the floor. So when I started dropping hair like crazy postpartum, thankfully I found a shrewd method to get rid of the hair. Oh, in case you are wondering, I do vacuum and mop my house. Maybe just not as often as you do.

In short, I'm not really the neatest person around.


When Angel started to learn to eat by herself, which she did so when she was 18 months old, let's just say she made a huge mess out of it at every meal. Out of every ten grains of rice on her plate, probably only two went into her mouth, three on her hair and body, and the remaining five on the floor.

Some of our friends and relatives saw this scenario and they would exclaim: "Oh my gosh, she's such a messy eater!" or "Oh no, you are going to have a big mess to clean later".

Well, even if it's true, at least she's learning, isn't it?

Although it can get pretty hard, jw and I always tell ourselves that we shouldn't chide or scold her when she makes a mess. I mean, children are curious and they are trying to explore the world, like "What happens if I pour the soup out?", "What happens if I hold up and then let go of the potato?" and "What happens if I mix everything together?". They don't mean to be naughty and they don't mean to make a mess. It's just their way of understanding how the world works. Of course, we do try to teach her that she should finish her rice, that she shouldn't waste food by tossing it around, but in terms of how she picks the spoon, scoops the rice and aims it into her mouth, we let her figure it out on her own and well, we simply take turns to clean up the mess.

I met a parent at a wedding dinner some time ago and when he saw that Angel was eating on her own (or at least she attempted to do so and she held the spoon well), he was astonished and said that his son, who was 4, was still fed by the parents or grandparents at every meal. Ok, that sounded strange to me but I asked if they had allowed the son to try eating on his own. He said no because "the son couldn't do it and got into a mess each time". C'mon, a mess is inevitable and you gotta stop spoon feeding your kid at some time and let him/her learn to be more independent, right?

I sure hope he won't have to feed his son till he turns 8. *fingers crossed*


Having stayed in both Asia and Europe, it's not hard to spot some significant differences in the parenting styles. When it comes to cleanliness and messiness, for some reason, many Asian mums are more afraid, or reluctant, to let their kids "get too dirty". I can't recount how many times I have heard stuff like "Noooooo, don't eat that biscuit, it just fell onto the floor!" or "No, you are not allowed to play by the beach because you will get soiled".

In many western cultures, kids get to frolic in the mud, play with all kinds of face and hand painting and get themselves all grimy and grubby. No, it's not like they don't care about hygiene, it's just that the kids get a tad more freedom to explore the world in the way they want to, even if that means they need a bath thrice a day.

On art and craft sessions with the kids, which is an important part of their learning journey, with the advent of mess-free toys like Aquadoodle drawing tools and magnetic powder writing boards (both of which are really cool and I have them at home), it becomes rather tempting to keep drawing sessions "sanitary" - minus all the mess and hassle of cleaning up.

Which is, to me, quite a pity because I remembered the joy of using brushes and colouring tools and how I used to love them when I was young.

So, just before Angel turned two, I decided to get her a watercolour kit. Her first ever. As you can guess, she was simply elated about it, even if she didn't really understand what it was! Well, kids learn really fast so I only needed to demonstrate once for her and instantly, she learnt how to hold the brush and how to dip it in the colours.

Frankly speaking, she wasn't the neatest painter (probably inherited from me) and despite my efforts in letting her wear a cute yellow apron and putting newspapers all around, it pretty much still became a mess. She loved to stick the brush in the water and stir it all around, then mix all the different colours together and sometimes she even stuck her finger into her mouth. Yes, that did horrify me a little because I didn't think the paints could be served as yummy snacks.

Still, we had a ball of a time just pretending to be Picasso and I loved the look on her face as she explored and discovered new things that she didn't know. Honestly, this is what drawing should be all about. To let kids have the freedom to unleash their imagination and creativity, to be able to experiment and try new things without worrying about making a mess, and to enjoy and have fun in the process of learning.

So, here was the first ever masterpiece from my little Picasso. No, don't ask me, I'm not really sure what it was, but I loved it all the same.

I think I'm moving on to finger painting soon. After all, being a SAHM means you have plenty of free time to try new things with your kid, and plenty of time to clean up the mess, right?


All in all, I guess we just shouldn't be so uptight bout kids getting into a mess. I have to tell that to myself all the time too. I'm not intending to let Angel vandalise my walls or sabotage the furniture, but if it's a little messy here and there, I guess it's all part and parcel of growing up and if that means my girl has the freedom to explore the world in her own creative little ways, so be it.

I'm going to stock up more rags and detergents and pretty soon, she'll have to learn to do the cleaning up with me. But that'll just be another fun mother-daughter activity, don't you think so?


  1. they can't really learn if they don't make a mess! and that is why NOT to get nice stuff when kids are end up worrting more about the stuff than the kids!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can!

  2. @momto8
    Haha, absolutely agree, no mess no gain!! =) Thanks for visiting and stay in touch!

  3. @huda
    Thanks huda! Will check out your blog too!

  4. What an amazingly beautiful little girl you have! I'm a new mama to a baby girl too.

    New follower from mommy blog club. :)

  5. @Sean Marie
    Hi Sean Marie, thanks and congrats on your baby girl! Welcome to motherhood, yeah? Let's continue to share more experiences with each other! Cheers!

  6. I so gonna get watercolors for Sophie, with a big apron too!!!!

  7. @Kang Hui
    great! I'm sure Sophie will have a wonderful time! =) and yes, a big apron is a must! hee!

  8. This is adorable! Your blog and your little are so pretty! I'm a new follower from Bloggy Moms! I hope you'll follow me back at Thanks!!!


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