Today is National Make a Mess Day (not really, I just made that up, but I Googled it and it appears there is no actual day for this, so why not today?). So, here's the thing about messes - it's the ONLY thing we all can do with 100% success each and every time we set out to do it. YAY! You could make a mess in the kitchen, you could make a mess of your life - it's up to you! Ok, but seriously..........
I remember once when my kids were little, I was talking to another mom and I mentioned we had been painting that day. You know, with brightly-colored paint at a little wooden easel set up in the kitchen? I had taken all the precautions - paint smock, drop cloth on the kitchen floor, "washable" paint......but Hannah still managed to drop a cup of deep blue paint on the floor, walk through it, then run circles through the living room looking for me to announce her faux pas. I came in the kitchen just in time to see perfect little blue footprints in a trail along the new carpet (lucky for us, we had just installed a very kid-friendly carpet and it washed right off - well, not RIGHT off, but a little elbow grease went a long way). My friend, hearing this story, looked at me in horror and said "Why in the world would you paint at home? That's what preschool is for!"
But I love making messes! One of our favorite things to make when the kids were little (and, ok, I'm going to "out" them here and say they STILL love this stuff) is "gloppy". I don't know if that's actually what it's called but it's the name my kids gave it the first time we made it. Just mix equal parts cornstarch and water until you produce a "colloid" (oohhh, science!). This is a substance halfway between a liquid and a solid. And it's SO COOL! Basically, you know if it's the right consistency if you can "slap" the mixture with the back of a spoon and it doesn't splash. This liquid/solid mixture is awesome to sink your hands into. You can actually grab a handful, squeeze and it becomes a solid in your hand. Open your hand and watch it slowly "melt" back into a liquid. Best stuff ever!!! You can even add some food coloring to make it more fun. And no need to take all those silly drop cloth/paint smock precautions - this stuff wipes right up (it's just cornstarch and water!).
Another one my kids love(d) is "science experiment". This is basically where we put out a bunch of stuff like baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, cooking oil, water, salt........whatever you can find.........and put out some containers (we use little glass bowls) and spoons and let them have at it making "solutions". It's even more fun if you have a spare, empty plastic syringe for sucking up water (seems more "official"). The best part is watching the kids the first time they "accidentally" mix baking soda and vinegar! Watch out! Volcano! Again, pretty easy to clean up and it's cheap and fun.
Then, there are those spontaneous messes that might be a little harder to clean up but are pretty damn fun. Like the time I was cleaning up after a party and took a cannister of whipped cream and just started randomly squirting everyone with it. The kids stood staring at me (at first the look was something like "Yeah, she's cracked. Knew it would happen eventually!") and eventually joined in grabbing the cannister, and, when that was empty, scooping up wads of whipped cream and smearing each other in the face. Ok, that was pretty gross, but still, messes are fun!
Once I started a food fight at dinner. I think I started it by throwing something inane like a crescent roll, and then other foodstuffs started flying and, yeah, it kind of got out of hand, but afterwards everyone was cracking up and the kids still talk about it.
The kind of mess I don't like? Dishes left all over the place, clothes carpeting a floor, wet washcloths in a humongous pile on the shower floor. Messes that are made by pure laziness do not qualify as "fun". Nor are they fun to clean up. But a mess that is spontaneous or planned? Fun! Arts and crafts, science experiments, building a marble run, an epic wooden block village that covers the living room floor, a fort - all of these "messes" turn your ordered world upside down and make it fun and different. Now, who's going to help clean up?