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Embrace messy play, mama—it builds confidence and problem-solving skills

As I carried a large plastic bin filled to the top with water through my hallway, drops splashed around my feet. I made a mental note to wipe it up when I came back through—my thousandth mental note of the morning—and I continued toward the towel I'd spread out on the kitchen floor.

The towel was there to contain some of the mess I knew was coming. I carefully set the bin on the towel, and immediately it transformed into a large lake teeming with sea creatures thanks to the imagination of a little boy.

In went toy boats and toy animals, toy villains and toy heroes, and they all made quite a splash. My son chattered on as he acted out the scene, and water soon soaked the towel and seeped onto the floor all around the bin. Something beautiful was happening on this very ordinary day on my wet kitchen floor as the sound of play echoed through my home.

A happy memory was being made. Joy was present, as it often is, alongside the messes our children make.

I can recall many such instances that I now look back on fondly. Cloud dough tracks across our tables, piles of Lego bricks dumped on the floor, paint that missed the paper it was intended for, and so many other messes actually were evidence of creativity and happiness. Of course, I didn't always see them that way, though I did try to often.

There were times when the messes made me feel irritated or anxious, but all in all, the benefits of the messes far outweighed the trouble of cleaning them up. Many of my fondest memories were made amongst the mess.

So, to the mama who feels exasperated by another mess your little one has made today, I want to offer you this perspective from a mom who misses it now: try to pause and see the magic in the mess.

Note the joy on their faces and really hear the sound of their laughter. Watch in awe as their imaginations run wild and their creativity unfolds. They aren't little for long, though it may seem to be dragging on slowly now. My mother-in-law always told me that she'd trade her now clean and quiet house for the loud and messy chaos of little children any day. And now I completely understand why.

This is not to say that it isn't difficult, mama. I know you're exhausted. You're tired of cleaning up. You're longing for some quiet order. I also know that sometimes a small shift in perspective is all it takes to get through one more day or to feel a little more joy. A change in how you see your circumstances can allow you to fully embrace the beautiful season that you are in because soon, a new season will come. That is motherhood.

Our favorite messy play activities

Messy play is good for a child's development—it helps them express themselves in new ways. It allows them to use their imaginations, be creative, explore their senses, build problem-solving skills, work on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and so much more! Messy play can also help calm anxiety in some children and help regulate their emotions, building confidence along the way.

With magical messes in mind, I'd like to share with a few of our favorite messy activities:

1. Sky's the limit with cloud dough

They loved to use their construction vehicles to scoop, dump, and move it around, and they enjoyed using various molds to make people, animals, and bricks. I used this two-ingredient recipe from Happy Hooligans. Mix eight cups of flour with one cup of baby oil and mix with a whisk or spoon.

2. Tap your inner artist with colored shaving cream

My boys painted with shaving cream in the tub for a little creative play that was easy to wash away! I simply filled a muffin tin with shaving cream (I used the kind for sensitive skin) and added a couple drops of food coloring. They could paint on the tub and shower tiles to their heart's content, and then we just washed it down the drain. (And it didn't stain which is always a plus!)

3. Ooey gooey slime

In one container, mix 4-ounces of white glue with one-half cup of water. Add food coloring if desired. In a separate container, mix one cup of water with one teaspoon of Borax powder. Slowly stir glue mixture into the Borax solution. Knead to a proper consistency.

4. Edible homemade finger-paint (love this recipe from Momtastic)

Put two tablespoons of sugar into a saucepan, add one-third cup of flour and two cups of water. Whisk until smooth and stir until mixture thickens. Pour into small cups and mix in food coloring as desired. Let it cool completely!

5. There's magic in a simple bin of rice or beans

As toddlers, my boys used to love to play in a big bin of uncooked beans or rice. I'd give them plenty of large spoons, cups, and bowls for scooping and pouring—favorite toddler activities—and they'd play for quite a long time. Thankfully, both are easy to sweep up!

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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