“Can we do painting Mum?” Oh please. No! I cringe. These words are cause for shudders in many mums I know.

Of course we all love to encourage creativity and self-expression in our children. And I do appreciate the paintings my little ones bring home from kindy… but painting at home means one thing: mess…an almighty, colourful mess!

My own cherubs, much like yours I’m sure, somehow turn ten minutes of happy art into a Pro-Hart-esque paint trail that starts in the dining room, streams across doors and along walls and ends on taps and soap dispensers. There’s also the paint brushes and pots to deal with and then there’s the paint smeared clothes. Irrespective of industrial strength smocks and so called washable paint that stuff isn’t coming out. Of course, I know old clothes are the answer, but a clothes change for three excited kids bursting to get busy isn’t worth the protest.

Finally, there are the prized paintings themselves. Unlike the ones from kindy that come home dry and neatly labelled with name, age and subject, home paintings are of a different world. Home paintings must first lie in piles of paint sodden paper to dry before they can be displayed proudly on the fridge and then eventually stored in a box of keep-forever-treasures. Don’t even mention the paper so laden with paint it’s literally disintegrating or the paint so thick it might dry sometime in 2019!

If you’ve made it this far you’ll have the gist. Painting at home is not for the faint-hearted! It’s certainly not an activity that fills me with joy.

In truth, I had surrendered to the realisation that I was doomed to a life of endless paint mess until a friend recently uttered six wonderful words. Life changing words….

Let them paint in the bath.

In the bath? I asked doubtingly.  How does that work?

Well it seems that savvy mums adverse to mess actually let their kids’ strip down, pop them in the bath and encourage them to go wild painting on the tiles. My mind boggled.
Although the idea had appeal, I had a few concerns. Enthusiastically, my friend was all over it with a rebuttal to my every fascinated question.

Too cold? Turn on the overhead heater lights.

Where do they put the paint? Plastic cups in an old plastic container – an ice cream container works perfectly.

Paint all over the walls and bath? It’s an area designed for mess – tiles don’t mind getting wet and are easy to clean.

Kids aren’t nudists? Or they are too old to be nude? Let them wear undies. At least no one can see them if they have paint stains.

Heck! Bath painting was beginning to make sense!
What about the mess? Clean up is simple she declared! Wipe the walls with a cloth and rinse the mess away. With your kids already contained in the bath there’s no paint trail just turn on the water, add bubbles and say goodbye to the paint! There are also no clothes to wash, no doors to wipe. Simply rinse a few paintbrushes and plastic cups and – voila – job done!

But what about the paintings?

My #mumhack shortcut to the lack of paper paintings is that I take photos. If I really wanted to I could print them, yet I never have. That’s because I’ve come to realise that the happiness for my kids is in the making and creating not in the keeping. They actually enjoy squirting their creations with the bath toys and watching them dribble down the walls.

What I’ve realised its more important that we create memories – not artworks! (Side note – mess free memories is a bonus!)

Now when I’m asked, “Can we do painting mum?” the answer is always yes! Bathtub Picassos time it is!

Find a great bathtime paint recipe here!

Have you let your children paint in the bath! Do you have a handy hint for minimising craft mess – we’d love to hear it!


I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

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