Messy is the New Clean: Let’s All Get Down and Dirty This Spring

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It was late spring, and I had gotten off the school bus to a downpour. It was a 10-minute walk down the dirt road to my house at the dead-end, and so, after one too many runnels of rain had run down my neck after I frustratingly tried to keep them out, I pulled off my raincoat in annoyance, and started jumping into puddles. I figured if I was going to get wet, I was going to get really wet (classic 7-year-old thinking!). Soon my annoyance dissipated, and I started having fun, running down the road, my backpack bobbing, aiming for the middle of the biggest mud puddles. Though I was a little worried when I finally got to our driveway. As I crunched with mud-encased feet over the gravel, I started to worry what my grandma—a very clean and organized woman—would think of my decision.  

I’ll never forget that day, as I came home soaked to the skin, with mud up my shins (and plenty splashed onto my shirt), and water pooled inside my sneakers. My grandma saw me coming down the drive, took one look at me, laughed, told me to go around the back of the house, and met me with the hose. I remember the hose water was much colder than the warm rain, and so I ran, screaming from the hosewater; she followed me, determined to de-mud me. As it was still raining, she ended up getting we too, and before we knew it, we were both dancing around the backyard in the now-lifting rain: The world was the bright green that only brand-new leaves can be, and only for a week or so each year.

My grandma was barefoot and I tossed off my sneakers and socks, and we both ran around the lawn, the dogs barking at us from inside the house, mud squelching between our toes, until finally we both just stood there, looking up at the rain coming down, panting. She gave me a big hug and we headed to the house, stripped down on the patio, and wrapped ourselves in towels. Hot chocolate might have come next.

It is a day that stands out in my mind 30 years later, a specific and wonderful memory of my grandma who raised me, and who passed away over a decade ago.


So I’m a huge proponent of getting outdoors and getting messy. (Or staying in and making a mess! Doesn’t the best cooking happen that way?) It’s incredibly fun and liberating, for kids and adults alike. (Think about it: you almost never see someone covered in mud, or paint, or food from cooking, who isn’t smiling a real, huge smile, right?) And while kids are pretty good at remembering this, adults especially find it easy to forget. We get so tied up with cleaning and tidying that we forget how much fun (and how good it feels) to make a mess!

So I would argue that getting messy—sometimes—is good for our health. It’s good for kids to see parents let go sometimes, and great for kids to be (messy) kids. To prove that life isn’t always pretty, or clean, or tidy, and that good creative projects are sometimes dependent on, well, a bit of a disaster zone.

And in the end, it’s a great lesson on how to clean up after yourself, too. Now, if you’re planning to visit Canada for your next family vacation, you should check out this list of things to do with kids in downtown toronto.

Which is why I LOVE the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Get Messy Contest. It’s an excuse to just go nuts (if you need one!). And yes, it involves sharing those fun, messy pics (just wipe off your hands as you grab the camera!) with the world!

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day wants to see your family having fun and making messes, so we’re hosting a photo contest. Enter to win one of three grand prizes, including a custom craft center, a brand new suite of kitchen appliances or a custom garden & greenhouse.

The Get Messy Contest will take place in three separate three-week segments. Each segment will feature a unique theme and another chance to win a new grand prize:

March 10th – March 28th — Arts & Crafts
March 31st – April 18th — Kitchen
April 21st – May 9th — Garden

To enter, upload an original photo of your kids or family getting messy matching the current theme with the hashtag #GetMessyContest. You will receive an email confirmation when your photo is approved.

Share your photos with friends and family and ask them to vote. The top 10 finalists will be people whose photos have received the most fan votes. These 10 finalists in each of the three categories will receive a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Gift Bucket. At the end of each round, we will select a grand prize winner from the top 10 finalists. The Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day team will then come to the home of the Grand Prize Winner, install the prize and host a party for the winner and 30 of their friends.

How awesome is that? Messy is the new clean. You have some time left still for the kitchen segment, or you can start “practicing” now getting messy in the garden. Check out the Mrs. Meyer’s Facebook page and Twitter feeds (and their blog is packed with fun ideas and recipes)  for more!

Mrs. meyers get messy

Image of girl in mud by Flickr User KatieW; Image of muddy women by Flickr User ZeNahla


Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.