Let’s face it. Kids are messy (some more than others), no matter what they do. Play dough is one of those things that can be extra messy. As much as I like things neat & clean, certain things are worth cleaning up the mess. Your baby learning to feed him/herself, your kiddos “helping” cook/bake, art projects, play dough…
Maybe a year and a half ago, we (me, DH, DD-around 6 at the time, and DS-2ish) were in a long line at the toy store, buying my son a play dough set like his sister’s. A man in line with 3 kids behind us said “I hope that’s not for you,” motioning to the play dough. He then proceeded to tell me how he has 6 kids and the older 3 played with play dough, but the younger 3 never had, since he had banned it (like, for real, not just joking that he should.) I don’t think he was trying to be a jerk, but by the time we got out of that line, he was working my last nerve, essentially telling me I knew nothing about anything since I had 2 children to his 6 and my oldest was 8, while he had teens. It was totally unsolicited & I quickly realized I needed to just smile, nod & say as little as possible.
Anyhoo, I think about him every time my kids play with play dough! Yes, it’s a mess. Between the dropped pieces, cleaning out “tools” and putting everything away, it takes a while, and sometimes I’m just not in the mood. When my daughter asked to play with play dough and I said no, she swore she’d clean it up herself.
Well my husband turned this into a great teaching moment. He explained the concept of a fully refundable deposit to her, and said he’d take her deposit and set it aside. If she cleaned up like she promised, she’d get it back. If he or I had to clean it up, we’d keep the deposit.
I realize some might think this is inappropriate for an 8-year old (mine isn’t typical & we have to get creative), but I thought it was ingenious, and it worked! 🙂