You will go downstairs to find your whole living room floor spattered with green paint. In times like these, the best thing you can do for yourself and for your children is to just get the camera.
You can also teach your children about the artist Jackson Pollock, and add a new verb to your family lexicon: pollocked, as in "The bathroom mirror has been pollocked with toothpaste".
The next day, I create an environment where my children can play with this new verb, showing them how to "sprinkle" paint with an old toothbrush, then cutting them loose to make a mess of their own design.
Each painting has its own signature, and reveals the age and personality of each creator.
My son's face has been pollocked by nature, but Margot's has a bit more colour after her artistic explorations. Violet's use of a cotton swab dipped in paint mysteriously results in her bellybutton being full of paint. The messy fun ends with a warm bath, and a reminder that in order to preserve our art, we should splatter paint on paper rather than the floor (towel, sink, etc.).
Words to take away from this post? Grab your camera. It's saved me from missing out on the fun and spontaneity of childhood many times (when I might have yelled and reprimanded) by encouraging me to document my children's doings and thinking about the clean-up later. These are the moments that will make me smile when they are all grown up and flown from the nest.