Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How To Get Little Ones Involved In Home Projects

Before our little ones came along we lived in our first home. It was an older home and we accomplished a fair number of big projects on our own. We ripped out countertops, flooring, shingles, and wallpaper. We busted up a concrete patio and steps. We installed new appliances, new countertops, and new tile. We painted all the cupboards in the kitchen. We put new shingles up on the house. We built a wood porch and steps. Not to mention refinishing a bunch of furniture and painting all the walls.

Then our first little one came along. One big project we had left was remodeling the bathroom. Biker Boy ripped the entire thing apart, with less help from me. Plus a little help from a tiny contractor who liked to check out the new wood flooring and bathroom items.

Then we moved to the southwest and welcomed another little one.  We also moved twice. Soon we did projects because they were necessary and not because we wanted to. We spent an hour playing “Get Me, Get You” rather than ripping out flooring.

Projects don’t have to end because of little ones, but they do change. Projects are great to do; sometimes they need to be done. But relationships are more important. Why not involve the little ones in what you do?

Here are a few tips and suggestions for getting the little ones involved in necessary and unnecessary projects:

Always think of their safety first. Don’t involve them in anything hazardous. (But you already knew that).

Be patient. It will take longer.

Don’t forget to “play.” You may need to draw a road on the garage floor for a little one to drive cars while you’re changing oil on your car.

Get them their own set of tools and teach them how to use them. Start with plastic tools.

Cherish the moment. Photograph the moment. Enjoy how much your child is like your spouse.

It’s okay to distract with a snack. The little one is still watching.

Be silly. Make it fun. Smile.

Encourage and praise the little one for being a good helper.

Let them climb the ladder, under supervision. Maybe just 2 rungs.

Make sure they know your rules and expectations and can follow them. (Safety first!)

Give them chores that are appropriate for their age. Make them fun. (My kids love to put their clothes in the washing machine and then play with the laundry basket.) They’ll learn what it means to help out in a family.

Explain what you’re doing, even if they don’t understand.

Let them try something. Even if they don’t do it up to your standards, you can fix it later when they’re not watching. Don’t fix it if it doesn’t need to be fixed. Or if it needs to be fixed right away, help them and show them. Praise them.

Let them pretend.  Or just let them think they're "helping" fix something.

Let them pick an unnecessary project that they can help a lot with. (A birdhouse, a concrete stepping stone, planting a flower, planting their own tree, watering plants, etc.)

Remember to leave time for playing. Or interrupt your project with time for playing. Just play!

Remember what’s important.

Any other helpful reminders when you include little ones in on those necessary and unnecessary projects at home?

My little ones all crowded in our tiny master potty room to help Biker Boy with a project we’ve been working on. It took us a lot longer to finish it now that we have kids, but that’s okay.  Here's a sneak peek.  I’ll reveal the project details on Tuesday.

I hope that you have a good day!  Enjoy every moment!

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