Mum shares controversial hack that gives "easily two hours of play" with washable paint - and the internet is divided

This mum’s ‘sittervising’ hack will unlock your kid's creativity but is it worth it?

Kids paint outdoor toys illustrated by child painting
(Image credit: Getty images / Future)

Calling all parents who need a breather in the middle of a warm and busy day. Boost your kids’ sense of creativity and independence and take a little bit of a break from solo entertaining with this brilliant mum’s hack we found for you. 

As the mercury rises and the summer holidays approach, it's time to embrace the great outdoors and let your children's imaginations run wild. With an array of exciting outdoor toys for summer, from paddling pools and trampolines to giant chalk sets and bug explorer kits, play is how children learn.

Mum-of-one and family editor at, Stephanie Lowe tells us; "Having an only child means I am constantly navigating the 'mummy play with me' pleas, while also working on building his independent play skills. Any play that he can get stuck into by himself is one for me to try."

Well, good news because we have found the best hack to encourage independent play and coax out your kids' creative side, while giving you a much-needed sit-down, take a look...

That’s where this genius parenting hack from mum and former teacher Susie Allison comes in. With the Instagram handle of @busytoddler, mum-of-three, Susie has devised a great way to keep her kids entertained in the garden, and unleash their creative energy while giving her a precious moment to relax and watch. Or to 'sittervise' as she calls it; sitting AND supervising. Genius. Check out her tip:

Susie shared this with her 2.1 million followers, and the post has had over 10,000 likes and 230 comments. Her caption read; "Trust me on this. Let your kids paint their outside plastic (or metal) toys with washable paint and you’ve got a recipe for summer magic, entertaining kids, and plenty of sittervising.
- Nope, I’ve never had it stain or ruin any plastic or metal toys.
- Also no, my kids didn’t suddenly start painting everything. Actually, it’s the opposite. Activities like this let me explain where the paint goes & when BEFORE they draw on wall, etc. It kept me proactive instead of reactive with boundaries.
After the kids finish painting, we either hose off the project and scrub it down (hello washing station, and part 2 of this activity) OR I forget and leave stuff painted for weeks… and it still comes off later. This is one of those summer activities we keep coming back to. It’s basically the kids' version of remodeling & renovating and who doesn’t love that?"

Some parents who had tried this themselves posted in the comments, with many sharing that "when we tried this the kids just painted each other," to this Susie replies "I mean if it keeps them occupied", while other parents agreed, saying "sounds like more fun was added!".

Another parent wrote; "By far one of the best activities I've done with my kiddo. He paints and then wash the toys. Easily an hour or even two hours of play! Also - always have an exit strategy!"

Another parent used it as a party idea; "We did this as the “activity “ for my son's 5th birthday party with the large play fort structure; everyone had a blast!" We're inspired. 

For every parent who loved it there was one who just wasn't convinced; "Won't it stain the concrete though?" or another commented, "Does it really come off though?"

We think this is a delightful way to inspire your little one’s imagination. Whether transforming a playhouse into a fairy cottage or giving an old tricycle a colourful makeover, letting kids express themselves through outdoor toy painting brings a whole new level of excitement to their playtime. And it all washes off with a hose down, apparently.

This activity stimulates creativity and gives them a sense of ownership and pride over their creations. So, grab the brushes, lay out the paint palettes, and have a sit-down and a cuppa as their designs come to life.

For more great ideas to make the most of your outdoor space, check out our guide to the best family days out with the National Trust, and get inspired with these easy garden craft activities to nurture their love of nature.

Joanne Lewsley

Joanne Lewsley is a freelance copywriter and editor who creates parenting, health and lifestyle content for evidence-based websites, including BabyCentre, Live Science, Medical News Today and more.