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5 Fun + Messy Activities for Your City Kids to Enjoy

by Hoboken Girl Team
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Ah, how those Pinterest-worthy pics look beyond amazing with dreamy moments of happy little toddlers painting quietly in a clean playroom surrounded by pristine white walls and a beige sofa nearby. But this, sadly, doesn’t actually exist. Nope. Not unless they’re strapped down, and you have a hazmat suit ready to clean the mess. But, there is a way to embrace messy play in apartment-living without the painted handprints on the walls and random splatters on the sofa. Guest contributor Olivia Burks, founder + owner of Hugs & Bugs Club in Hoboken, tells us how to embrace the mess + how to transform your Pack ‘n Play and bathtub into a world of wonder while keeping that mess contained. Keep reading to learn how to embrace the mess and Olivia’s top tricks.

1. The Mess: “Look Mommy, I’m a Superhero” Bathtub Painting Adventure

hugs bugs embracing mess

What You’ll Need

Crayola Non-Toxic Washable Paint various colors {be sure to test a small area on your tiles first}

Optional Materials:


Toys to paint

Small plastic tub

Baby wipes

How to Prep the Mess

Fill the tub with one inch of water since the paint will get slippery. Prepare the paint in a container for easy access to color choice. Invite your little ones to paint themselves, their toys, and the tile. Add a mini-bubble bath to help wash off their toys and paint again. Press play on the Jack Johnson soundtracks and grab a drink. Done.

How to Clean Up

Splash water over the tiles and enlist your messy helper{s} to wipe the paint with a baby wipe. This will help extend the play too. Run the shower for a second to clean the kids off and proceed with a regular bath. Voilà! You’re welcome.

See More: Preschool Prep Options in Hoboken For Toddlers + Kids

2. The Mess: Shaving Cream Bath Time Play 

hugs and bugs shaving cream

What You’ll Need

Sensitive skin foamy shaving cream

How to Prep the Mess

Fill the tub as usual for bath time. Bring a few favorite toys, cups, spoons, measuring cups, and just about anything to fill, pour, and cover with shaving cream. Offer the kids a full bottle of shaving cream and let them go crazy. They will love pressing the button down and watching the shaving cream pour out.

How to Clean Up

Empty the tub and splash water on the tiles to wash away the shaving cream. Turn on the shower for a moment to rinse off the toys and kids. Fill the tub again with fresh water and rinse off kitchen items and toys.

3. The Mess: Bathtub Rave {Just Add Glow Sticks}

hugs and bugs rave

What You’ll Need

Glow sticks

How to Prep the Mess

Fill the tub as usual for bath time. Offer a few glow sticks and invite your children to bend the sticks watching in amazement as the colors begin to shine bright. Add some music and turn off the lights — and there you have it, it’s a kid-approved rave.

How to Clean Up

Take a bath as usual and save your glow sticks for great incentive to go to bed and play a little longer while resting their heads on pillows.

4. The Mess:  Pack ‘n Play Party

hugs and bugs pack play

What You’ll Need

Pack ‘n Play

Flat sheet

Dry white rice

Small container for materials



How to Prep the Mess

Place a flat sheet on the floor and set the Pack ‘n Play in the middle of the sheet. Set down a small bin with rice inside. Add a few toys and tools {spoons, measuring cups, etc.}. Insert your child and let them play without worrying about materials traveling around your apartment and inside the drawers.

Read More: 14 Local Moms on How They Balance Motherhood + Work

5. The Mess: Cardboard Clubhouse

hugs and bugs fort

What You’ll Need

Empty box




How to Prep the Mess:

Place an empty box big enough to fit your little one into. Draw a few little things inside and invite them to add to your art. Add stickers and markers and sit back and enjoy their artistic talent. You can even put out a few boxes and have them make a little fort for days of fun. Be sure to use your best judgment when using various materials with different age groups as some may pose a choking hazard.

Do you have any tips to help transform a mess into a playtime wonderland? Let us know in the comments!

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