It seems hard to believe, but you don’t have to set aside special time to accomplish tasks like painting or gardening on your own. You can involve kids in housework, and not only will they learn important life skills, you’ll have some great bonding experiences, too!
My husband is really good at this one thing. I mean, super good. He’s a fantastic dad in a way I would have never imagined before we had children. I often joke that he has more maternal instinct than I do, except I’m not joking. He TRULY does. He loves to make sure our children are not left out when it’s time to do banal things – like yard work, painting, and other seemingly “adult” chores.
He works long hours, and when he is home, he maximizes his time with his kids. I really love that about him.
I’ve learned a few things from him. He has taught me that, other than doing really dangerous things like operating a lawn mower or saw, kids can help with many “adult” chores too. Like painting, planting a garden, cleaning up the yard, cleaning out vehicles, sorting out junk and hauling stuff to the curb. And the list goes on.
I’ll be honest, when he told me he wanted to have the kids help us paint (first the bedrooms, and then the kitchen), I was pretty skeptical. We started with the kids’ room and learned some pretty important lessons. Luckily, we were smart enough to implement those the second time around. For example, when it came time to paint the kitchen, we bought shower caps to cover their hair, big white t-shirts to cover their bodies, and made them wear socks. And then let them “go to town”—in a somewhat organized fashion!
Tips for involving everyone in housework and special projects:
- Get in the mindset that the kids CAN help. Just chuck out the idea that they are too little or it’s too hard for them to do.
- Find bite-sized elements that they can do. Our kitchen had to have the wallpaper stripped before we could paint. The girls had a tremendous time tearing the paper off the wall. It was a fun family moment we would have completely missed out on if we had predetermined that they could not participate in the kitchen project.
- Be prepared with the appropriate tools. As you can see in the picture above, we made sure to cover the children’s body parts (like hair) that do not mix well with paint. My husband bought small rollers and brushes for the kids to use so that we had plenty to go around AND they were the right size for them. On another project in the garden, my husband got a small hammer for my 9-year-old, taught him how to use it, and let my son participate in the actual building of the garden boxes.
- Accept that it will probably be messy. The kids did a great job helping us tear off the wallpaper and prime the walls. But they weren’t clean and organized about it. We were prepared for that too, and we also took the opportunity to make sure they helped clean up.
- Put on some music and have fun. Nothing ever seems like work when you decide you’re having a party, right?
I have to thank my husband for thinking outside the box. Because if it were up to me, I would have just sent the kids off to do something and worked on these projects on my own. And I would have missed the opportunity to make some really fun memories with my children.
This post originally appeared on UrbanMommies. Reprinted with permission.
Alexa Bigwarfe is a freelance writer and author. Alexa co-authored the book “Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive” and edited the follow-up anthology: “Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (and then I had Kids!)”. Her #losethecape philosophy as a mom is based on the idea that we are all doing the best that we can as moms, and should be encouraged in motherhood. She also edited and published a book for grieving mothers entitled “Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother” and has been published in several anthologies, including “The Mother of All Meltdowns,” and “The HerStories Project,” and “Mothering Through the Darkness.” She also writes for regional parenting publications and has published over thirty articles in the United States and Canada.