Tips and ideas on how to survive kids painting time, and what to do with their efforts!

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My 4 year old daughter Phoebe loves art and in particular, painting, ever since she was introduced to holding a brush but I hate the mess!  Here are my tips for avoiding some of the mess and as an added bonus to save a bit of money too.  Also what do you do with the results?  Frame them for posterity?  Recycle? Put away in a drawer?  I’ve come up with some solutions to the problem.

  • Use a cheap wipe clean tablecloth (I got mine from Aldi) on a table or the floor to minimise the possibility of paint getting anywhere and tell them not to move off it (supervision may be required depending on age, Phoebe is 4 so she’s getting better at understanding rules!)


  • Buy the big bottles of paint in various colours and then squidge out a tiny bit for painting each time because they invariably get bored and want to move on to the next thing – there’s nothing worse than loads of effort getting everything out for one activity, they do it for 5 minutes and then they move on to the next thing!


  • Use a plastic cupcake tray as a painting tray – easy, cheap, re-useable and you get to eat cupcakes – win/win.  You could also use paper or polystyrene cups, or a large (old) plate, old egg boxes – the paints wash off if they’re children’s poster paints and are waterproof.

2015-09-01 11.48.43 2015-09-01 11.48.48

  • Some sort of painting apron – the best thing is an old shirt of yours or the man’s with the sleeves cut down and worn back to front

  • Don’t get too hung up on them creating perfect art works – most children just love practising and playing with the brushes, Phoebe loves smooshing the paint around and mixing the colours up!


  • When they’re done just throw the tray or cups away or wash and re-use, bung the shirt in the wash, chuck away (!), frame or pin up their art, wipe clean the tablecloth and you’re done!

Here’s some good ideas I’ve come across of how to display their best efforts


Slot the artwork in and out with this  interchangeable frame.


Keep the paintings safe on the fridge with these colourful magnetic frames.


  • Photograph the pictures or craft work and it’s saved for posterity!


  • Give them a box file and they can keep what they want in their room.

I hope this has given you some inspiration and help when it comes to getting through the early art years, I know they grow so quick and one day I’ll miss those days of finding pom-poms and glitter in far flung places!

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  • Reply bumbismom

    Great idea with the cupcake tray!

    September 1, 2015 at 9:54 pm
    • Reply midwifeandlife

      Thanks, she saved it for playing with and it came in handy!

      September 1, 2015 at 10:05 pm
  • Reply Mama

    Great tips. I need to give painting another go. Last time was 15 minutes set up and 30 minutes clear up for 5 minutes trying to stop the baby eating the paint.

    September 2, 2015 at 2:11 am
    • Reply midwifeandlife

      Ha ha, it never goes smoothly no matter what you do, best way is in the garden!

      September 2, 2015 at 5:46 am
      • Reply Mama

        Agreed. Hosing down the path is easier than scrubbing the living room, kitchen and dog.

        September 2, 2015 at 5:55 am
        • Reply midwifeandlife

          Better still do it at someone else’s house! My sister in law is good at giving the children free reign with painting and glueing

          September 2, 2015 at 6:43 am
  • Reply To All the Bloggers I’ve Loved Before | Bumbi's Mom

    […] enjoyed word-jabbing one of my favorite wordsmiths. I have picked up some great ideas like using cupcake trays for paints? […]

    September 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm
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