I used to fear mess. Shaving cream, sand, water, and dirt stayed contained and would be cleaned up quickly. Paint and markers did not come out as often as stickers or crayons. I would get flustered and stressed over a little bit of colorful chaos.
As I continued to work with children year after year, then had my own, I stressed less and less about mess. I still have moments where I freak out in my head, but the more I prepare, observe, and enjoy the interactions, and problem solving going on during the process with my kids, the less I worry about what needs to be washed off later.
I took my younger son to story time at our local library a couple of months ago, and watched a child waltz in with dried paint all over one of his legs and his hands. All I could think was, "Your mom rocks!" Because she didn't seem bothered by it, she seemed to have no fear of it at all.
A friend of mine worked at a child care center with me years ago. She led the two year old class. One day she laid sheets all over the floor of her room, and gave the kids free reign to paint on their bodies. I thought she was the bravest woman ever, but she just had no fear of the mess.
Kids can be cleaned, and messes can be swept. It takes a little more effort with messy materials, but children will return the favor by showing us the effort they put into playing with it; the shapes they made, the cap they figured out how to open, the shades they mixed, or the bucket they filled.
Many successful people take risks with their work. If we show children that we don't fear mess, then they will feel comfortable taking "risks" with their work. Do you fear paint? How do you overcome the fear of mess with your kids?