Word of the Week: Mess

Today the word that sums up the week that was is:


As it happens, this doesn’t actually refer to mess that was made, but rather mess that wasn’t. In fact mess that I think I’ve been a little afraid of making, a fear I might have inadvertently passed on to Arthur. It is the glorious, creative, colourful mess that comes from painting: something I’ve avoided doing with Arthur for far too long.

It’s a little odd, really. Those that know me would certainly not put me in the category of people who are mess averse. I’ve never been one for minimalism, and have embraced all sorts of mess with Arthur so far: the avocado and porridge face packs that come with baby led weaning, the bathroom floor tsunamis in the name of watery fun, the muddy knees (and hands, and noses) of outdoor exploration. But for some reason, despite loving art in all it’s forms and being brought up by a supremely creative mother who facilitated endless projects, I have thus far shied away from adding paint to the list of things Arthur has been allowed to make a mess with.

And this week, I decided it was time that changed. I bit the bullet, got out the various supplies I’ve collected so far, and waited for Arthur to make a mess. Except he didn’t seem all that impressed. It didn’t help that the first thing he did was put the paint-laden brush in his mouth – those embittering agents really don’t taste all that great. I felt a bit guilty for setting him up in his high chair at the spot at the table where he normally eats… Confusing much?

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He seemed vaguely interested in the brushes and stamps I’d been recommended by a friend, but admittedly more in the different sounds they made when he banged them on the table than in what would happen if he put them in contact with the gloopy stuff.


And he was considerably less impressed when I gave him a helping hand to coat his fingers in said gloopy stuff, appearing to get positively afraid of what it might do as our little art session went on.

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I tried my best to model the messiness, sacrificing any attempt at artistic merit for the sake of lots of smooshing and smearing and slapping. But he really wasn’t having any of it, and in the end I had to admit defeat.



I’m a little mortified that my reticence to get out the paints for anything other than tightly controlled mummy-led crafts over the past fifteen months might have given Arthur a paint phobia. And for that reason alone I will most definitely be persevering. I’m thinking next time we should scrap the high chair, and just free things up with paper on the floor. I admit I’m cringing a little as I write that with thoughts of baby paint handprints over everything the minute my back is turned, but if that’s the sacrifice I have to make then so be it.

If all goes to plan, there should be plenty of messy, paint-splattered posts in the weeks and months to come. Wish us luck! It’ll be fun, right?


The Reading Residence

22 thoughts on “Word of the Week: Mess

  1. Sharon (@TeenTweenToddle)

    I know exactly how you feel I did the same thing with Harry (and he’s my third) but I decided to just embrace it and now he loves it! If it helps I gave him a blob of jelly in his highchair first and he soon had it all over the place, he loved it! And it didn’t matter if he ate any 🙂 After that he was much more eager to get stuck into painting 🙂

    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Jelly’s a good idea. I don’t think Arthur’s been introduced to that yet either! It’s reassuring to hear it’s not just us who are struggling a bit – hopefully he’ll come to love painting too once I loosen up a bit… 🙂

    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Thanks for the encouragement! I will persevere and I’m sure we’ll get there eventually. I’m glad your son has overcome his fear of water – funnily enough that’s one thing that Arthur has always loved, they’re all so different aren’t they?

  2. thenthefunbegan

    You’re a braver woman than me – I haven’t ever really gone down this road with either of mine – I’ve always been like “That’s what nursery is for?”. Maybe I will live to regret this…

    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Ha! A couple of people have said that to me. The problem I’ve got is that because I’ve chosen to stay hoe and write Arthur doesn’t go to nursery so I need to try and fit in the activities he might do there! We go to lots of groups, but messy play hasn’t been part of that yet – I’m thinking I might need to seek something out…

  3. Kim Carberry

    My girls love painting…..Just remember it will wash off just about anything…..Be brave and embrace the messiness! hehehe x

  4. Carol

    You’ll both get the hang of it, and like Haze said, outside is the way to do it! Something that is good fun too is doing welly prints. Get long strips of wall paper on the floor, couple of trays of paint and step into the paint and walk down the strip of paper. My boys never liked getting hands or feet dirty, so sponge printing and welly printing went down well. 🙂

  5. thereadingresidence

    You’ll get there! Like you, I’m not a fan of mess, but actually, I’m pretty chilled about painting these days. I prep the area thoroughly with a bin bag lining the high chair, a big apron and plenty of wipes to hand and then let him loose! Last time, he pretty much just painted the table! It washes off, though, so all was fine! He’s not keen on having it on his hand either, but loves painting with a paintbrush. My 4yo is pretty adept now, and doesn’t even make any mess, so I see a tidier future ahead…! Good luck with it and thanks for sharing with #WotW x

  6. Lou's Lake Views (@LLoopyLou)

    He’s still very young and I’m sure he’ll grow in to messy play as he gets bigger and starts to understand what he’s doing, then you’ll wish you never thought of it in the first place (just kidding!) 😀 #WotW

  7. Rebecca Phelan

    Hi Sophie,
    I’ve read your blog with interest and think I ought to get Poppy started before too much longer, in case the same thing happens! I have been looking at the photos of the brushes and stamps etc that your friend recommended. What are they called? Where can I get some (or something similar)? – they look great! Becky x

    1. sophieblovett Post author

      Hey Becky! The little brush/stamp set is by Early Learning Centre – we picked ours up in Dartington but I think they do them at Mothercare too. Let me know how you and Poppy get on – we definitely haven’t cracked it yet! X

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