I can't tell you how often I hear from parents, " ow do you do it without losing your cool?" They are referring to the paint, the glue and the sparkles that seem to spread far and wide every time they do an art project with their child. Because I know how important it is. It's worth the mess. Honestly. Doing a project with your child is more than just having something to show your spouse, at the end of the day, even though that is still my son's favorite part. It's about bonding, it's about learning while creating, and using their imaginations. So I beg you to chill about the mess. Here are a few tips to help you: 1. Go to a fabric store and get some oil cloth cut to size. There are fun prints and although it's not the cheapest option nothing gets through it. 2. Do messy projects outside. A garden hose is a great clean up tool in warm weather. 3. Keep your supplies away from little hands. Don't put the paint on the table until it's time for them to use it, sparkles are never within reach at our house until the glue has been spread and it's time to add them. Kids need open ended activities but save the messiest materials for when you can control the use if you are worried about mess. 4. Wet tissue paper bleeds and it stains. 5. You can get a lot of products that are self stick, saving you from using glue if that is too messy for you. Self stick foam, googly eyes, even sparkly gems can all make fun crafts with minimal mess. 6. Keep clothes that are too short in the arms and legs for art time. Wearing smocks can hinder movement and frankly annoy toddlers. We want them to want to create and have fun and if they are fidgeting with their smock, they aren't having fun or creating. So save those stained or ratty clothes and don't worry about the paint getting on them. 7. Have wet cloths handy. A wet wash cloth can clean up a little spill or mess in an instant, but once paint or glue dries it's much harder. I hope some of these tips help you enjoy the mess almost as much as our kids do!