Home Improvement with Kids!

Home Improvement with Kids!

        

By Brenda and Chuck Hyde

We bought a handyman's special as our first housefor less than $60,000. It's been a great experience,and actually has not been the "money pit" someold houses turn into. When we moved into ourhouse we had two boys under the age of three. Theyare now 7 and 8 and have a sister, who is a toddler.When we tackle home improvement projects aroundour house it's a family affair! Everyone wants to helpand we've learned some tricks for avoiding total chaosduring our projects.

The Toddler "Helper"

Toddlers love to help mom and dad. They imitate everythingwe do and it's the perfect age for teaching them good habits.However, unless you want your painting project to look likemodern art, they can't help a whole lot. When you arebuying your project supplies pick up a smaller plastic paintbucket and some cheap brushes so your toddler can"paint" with you. We thought the foam brushes that you buyin an assortment would work but they don't look like thebrushes mom and dad use and it was not a big hit. Giveyour helper some water in their paint bucket and a placeto "paint" that is away from the actual project, but wherethey can see you. Encourage them! "What is my littlehelper doing? Wow, what a good job!". Obviously thisdoes not last forever, but it goes a long way towardsoccupying your helper.

Older Children

Our boys are now 7 and 8, which is a great age for tasksthat don't need a lot of detail. They helped paint theporch with primer and the window and porch boxes. Youwill have to judge the maturity and coordination of eachchild as to what they will be able to do. Removing nailsfrom items we were repairing and placing them in acontainer was a good task too. There were spots thatneeded wood putty added before painting and this was alsoa job they handled fairly well. Fence painting, washing downwalls, sweeping the porch and clean up duties were thingsthey were a big help with. Remember to keep it simpleand keep it focused. Don't give them a list of things tohelp with, but instead just take it one task at a time.Obviously preteens and teens can take on much moreresponsibility and work along side you throughout the project.

More Tips

Before you even begin your home improvement projectput aside clothing for everyone, including your toddler,that can be considered "disposable". Shirts, pants orshorts, shoes and rags for wiping up messes. You maythink you are keeping your toddler away from the paintor varnish but the minute you turn your back they somehowfind the only wet spot in the work area. At the end of theday you can throw everyone's clothes in the washer withextra soap and put them aside for the next work day.

Latex paint generally washes off fairly well, but primeris a tough one. We scrubbed and scrubbed but my 8 yearold had white primer on his leg for 2 weeks until it woreoff! We also had to cut a small section of hair that wasa clump of primer because his brother had "accidentally"lost control of his paint brush. Bath time immediatelyafter painting is important before the paint sets.

Keep the meals simple while your working on projects.Either order pizza or cook something simple in the crockpotthat will be ready when you are. Also, be sure to have plentyof quick snacks and drinks that you can give to the kidswhen they take breaks. This also makes your project seem"fun" and you may hear less of "I'm hungry! What can I eat?"

Lessons for the entire family

From the time we bought the house we found that lettingthe boys watch us work, and then help when they could,made it "family time". Not to say that there hasn't beentimes when everyone gets frustrated, but mostly, it's beengreat for all of us. We've rewarded them with trips for icecream, and pizza dinners plus we give them extra moneyto spend while we were on vacation. To be honest though,I think our praise and their satisfaction at finishing a taskwas more effective than the money. During home improvementprojects when your children are young, it's a learningexperience for you as parents, as well as a character buildinglesson for them. Don't be afraid to tackle those projectsyou've been putting off and let the whole family help out!

About the Author:
Brenda and Chuck live in Michigan where they are alwaysin the midst of one home improvement project or another.Brenda is the editor/owner of Old Fashioned Living and sends outtwo free email newsletters. You can sign up for them HERE Chuck is a Registered Nurse and the family handyman.

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