water table clean-up and fun in one!


If like us, spring has caught you unaware, you may be looking around your yard, wishing you had stored the outdoors toys better. Never fear, I have an easy clean-up hack that will keep your kids busy and entertained, and allow you to bring out the toys to play with today.

We had a fun, fast, and chilly visit to Scotland over spring break. We returned, exhausted, jet-lagged, and rolled right into a series of colds and cases of flu! When we were finally able to venture back into the real world, we discovered that spring had hit, and we were more than ready for the warmth. The boys were desperate to get out to the playpark, but while they were off school and contagious, we had to stay home. And the flu and the jet-lag were still in play, and so we didn’t want to do anything too energetic. I could see the water table upside down at the edge of the yard, and I knew the boys would love to play with it. It was dirty because we hadn’t remembered to put it away in the shed in the fall clean-up.  Oops!

In an ideal world, I would do a version of the Fall Yard Clean Up I posted about last year, but I just wanted to set the boys up with an easy outdoor activity for a little while, which would give me some time to work. While I love that I run my own business and can work around their schedule if they are off school sick, it takes some creative planning to find time to squeeze all the task in when I still have deadlines!

And so, the easiest parent hack was put into play. I brought the water table up to the deck so that I could see what they were up to. I filled it with warm water and a liberal dose of dish soap. I handed them some old toothbrushes and nail brushes, and left them to it!

close up of water table with soapy water, toys and a toothbrush to clean it

They were both remarkably enthusiastic about this; far more than they normally are when asked to do chores! It probably helped that I filled it up before asking for their ‘help’, so they could see what fun it might be, and also that they hadn’t played with it all winter so it counted as a ‘new’ toy in their eyes.

I’m not going to lie, it was pretty disgusting. They probably only cleaned it about 80%, but periodically I went over and scrubbed in the little crevices that they had missed, and between us, we got it clean.

close up of children's hands as they play and clean up a water table full of soapy water and a toothbrush

Once that was done Red was bored and wandered off to play elsewhere. But Smalls stuck to the water table for a good hour in total, especially once I added some boats and then some animals for him to clean.

It was a warm enough afternoon that I was able to sit nearby and start on an edit of a sci-fi novel that I hadn’t managed to get around to all week. With a coffee. Life was good! This week has been tough on all of us as we’ve recovered and started to get back to real life, and little breaks like this make all the difference!

Have you pulled out the outdoor toys yet? Ask the kids to help and see how much fun you can make it for them.

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