We all have those times when the list of projects gets to big to ignore and we have to get started knocking those tasks off the list. As an at home parent that is a daily reality for me as the chores add up. I can go through and get things done pretty fast if the boys are napping or otherwise engaged but when they are under foot it is much tougher. Even when they want to help it makes the job twice as hard and any frustration with chores turns into frustration with Primo and Segundo. We have started having the boys clean up their toys in and out of the house and they are getting good at being part of the solution but when we try to do bigger projects I have to make sure to manage both theirs and my expectations. As with most things, family projects are much easier when we have a plan.
- Have smaller, manageable tasks the kids can do on their own – When Beautiful was painting one of the treasures she found on the side of the road she set out small brushes for the boys and gave them each an arm of the wicker chair she was working on. They were able to contribute to the project and work with mommy and she was able to rederict them back to their spots when they started roaming with their brushes.
- Give them tools they can use – Some old wood pallets needed breaking down so that Beautiful could make a faux mantle. The work was hard hammering a pry bar under the slats and pulling them away from the 2 by 4s they were nailed to and this would have been a lot easier with no kids around. By giving the boys their own tools and showing them how to use them I put them to work getting the nails out of the boards after I separated them from the pallet. Plastic fake tools are fun for a minute but kids would rather play with the real thing so teaching them how to do it safely is an important lesson.
- Engage kids in all aspects of the project – Most projects start with an end goal in mine and then we engineer it from there and part of getting kids involved is including them in the process. Asking Primo how we should get the smaller boards off of the pallet and talking it through with him was a great teachable moment. It allows him to think critically about the whole project and often he comes up with ideas that I hadn’t thought about. We talked about what to do with the nails and the extra pieces and how best to clean up in the end. He made sure that there were no nails left on the garage floor so that it would make his bike tire flat. It was really great to see him have the big picture in mind and see effects of our decisions.
- Make sure you have enough time – Getting kids involved in the whole project means making sure we have enough time to plan, execute, and clean up after a project and even if they aren’t doing the whole thing with you it’s important that they have enough time to do all those things for their part.
- Share the story – When people come over to our house and see the mantle in our room the boys show it off with pride. They tell who ever will listen what part they painted and how they cleared the nails off of each board. They have as much ownership in the final project as Beautiful does in her ideas come to life.