How’s it possible? Kids have grown even messier during quarantine, parents agree

NEW YORK — From threatening to report naughty children to Ariana Grande to promising those who keep things tidy a tasty treat, parents have had to get creative with their words of warning to keep kids from making a mess amid the pandemic.

A new survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children explored the chaotic realities of kids being home all the time during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no wonder parents have had to bring out some inventive approaches as the average child has caused 222 messes since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. That’s six crashes, smashes, and spills every week!

Messy kids make parents extra busy

Those untidy creations don’t just disappear themselves either. The OnePoll study finds the average parent spends 16 minutes cleaning each mess during COVID. That’s 3,552 minutes or 59 hours spent remedying messes over the last year.

The survey, commissioned by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, revealed nearly two in three parents (65%) would be less stressed if they didn’t have to worry about the clutter their kids create.

Nearly seven in ten (69%) said there are times their child is so messy that they can’t even identify the substance on them. When the muck isn’t a mystery, a third of parents (35%) declared “sticky” to be the worst sensation to feel on a dirty child. “Crusty” comes in a close second with 33 percent. One parent even called their child to a “snot monster.”

The most common things kids create a mess with are their toys (43%) and clothes (43%), but the biggest one is food (48%). Two in three parents said it’s a real struggle to get their children to eat healthy instead of playing with their meals.

Kids are making a nutritional mess too

The trouble starts for many when their kids don’t eat enough of the right foods. Sixty-four percent of parents revealed their child turns into a “different person” if they don’t eat right. Mealtime is becoming a real source of contention during the pandemic as 63 percent of respondents are struggling more and more to ensure their kids are receiving enough nutrients and water while at home.

Forty-three percent are concerned their children are not receiving enough fiber. The same number worry their kids don’t drink enough water to stay properly hydrated. Two in five parents (41%) think their children need more protein than they’re getting in quarantine.

“The data really highlights the tough position parents are in as they try to keep their kids out of trouble and healthy amid the pandemic. Luckily, watermelon offers a naturally nutritious option year-round that keeps kids occupied, hydrated and filled with important nutrients like magnesium and phosphorus” says Mark Arney, executive director of the Watermelon Board, in a statement.

Sneaking in more nutritious treats

Sixty-five percent of parents admit their kids like fruit, but often need to be convinced to actually eat it. Many parents have taken sneaky methods to convince their children to have more fruit.

Over four in 10 (44%) will add fruit to a smoothie and 43 percent have found their kids like snacking on frozen fruit treats. When it comes to the fruits most likely to win the snack-time battle, kids’ favorites include apples, oranges, and strawberries. Other favorites making the top ten are grapes, pineapple, bananas, and watermelon.

“We’re thrilled to see watermelon as one of kids’ favorite fruits and encourage parents to make fruit fun to keep them eating plenty,” Arney adds. “Something kids love about watermelon is how a slice can look just like a smile; they can hold it up and be silly before taking a big, juicy bite that is 92% water, keeping them hydrated and happy!”

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