I don’t know about your children but mine love when it rains because rain means mud. Gloriously messy, disgustingly wonderful mud. I’ve never been a person to abuse my Purell bottle, however even I struggle to remind myself that the benefits of playing with mud outweigh the annoyance of clean-up.
I often say aloud, “God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt,” as a reminder to myself that its ok for the children to get muddy.
More than ok, actually. Dirt has healthy, naturally-occurring bacteria which aids in building up young immune systems. Beyond that, mud is a sensory experience and, as we all know, sensory experiences aid in development of language, comprehension, and fine motor skills.
On that note, we put a “mud kitchen” in our patio make-over.
Due to limited space and the logistics of leaving a mud kitchen out where the children have constant access to it in an apartment setting, we did something alittle unconventional with our mud kitchen.
We started with this old pet crate we had on hand which we never use, it was just the right size for a patio table. I happened to have some laminated tablecoth on hand so we used that to cover it. The corners do jut out quite a bit and don’t look very attractive; next time my sewing machine is out, I plan to trim and stitch it up so it fits more like a slip cover and looks more appealing.
Once you pull back the table cloth and open the crate door, you’ll find all the kitchen supplies you might need to make a lovely mud cake, mud roast beef, or even classic mud pie. I did purchase a new set of funnels, measuring cups, ketchup and mustard bottles from Dollar Tree. The rest of the supplies (pot, pan, mixing bowl, strainer, 2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 cups, 2 wooden spoons, potato masher, dish towel, 2 pot holders, and 2 oven mitts) were all things we already had on hand. I basically just went through a box of kitchen items we’d replaced long ago and picked out anything scratched, stained, bent, dented, or otherwise barely functional. The children are having a ton of fun with this already, our neighbors even stopped by to help break in the new mud kitchen.
From a practical point a view, I can’t really have my children getting muddy outside then crossing through the living room to get to bathroom in order to clean up. I needed some way of cleaning them off and containing the mess outside. But in an apartment setting, with no hose to spray them down, I had to get creative. It took a bit of thought but I came up with this:
A simple clean up station that hangs from a hook directly inside the shed door. Two small bottles of liquid soap, two wash cloths, two spray bottles of water, and two towels. Its not a full-on bath but it will get them clean enough to go in through the front door without having to follow them with the steam cleaner.
Be sure to check out all 7 days worth of outdoor play ideas in our Pimp My Patio Series!
Day 1- Making Things Colorful
Day 2- Music and Pretend Play
Day 3- Bugs and Birds
Day 4- Outdoor Games
Day 6- Hide-a-Ways and Sun Protection
Day 7- Gardening