Once upon a time, in a far away land, my fairy godmother gave me the gift of becoming a stay-at-home mom. (I know. Normally, fairy godmothers make you into a princess, but work with me here.)
And then my little mice and bird friends painted furniture and operated power tools and decorated rooms to my exact liking. That’s how this DIY blog really began, and we all lived happily ever after. (snicker snicker)
Y’all, really. Doing DIY projects when you have kids is HAAAAAARD! Some of you guys have sent me emails and comments before asking how to make time to do the home improvement thing when you have those cute, messy pint-sized people running around under foot, and I figured it was about time I talked about it to share some of the solutions we use to get things done.
I mean, Olivia totally looks like the best contractor you could ever hire for any project, right?
How does much sass fit in such a little human being?
Despite the meltdowns and chaos that comes with being parents, Robert and I have been able to complete a whoooole lot of DIY projects in our house with her running around, so if you have little ones, this post is for you. (Solidarity, mamas and papas.)
7 tips for doing home DIY projects when you have kids:
- Take shifts. Between the two of us, Robert and I have learned how to team up to juggle watching the kiddo and doing home improvement jobs. On most projects, he does the power tool steps (cutting and nailing wood for window trim, shiplap, shelves, etc.) while I play with Olivia in the backyard or in the playroom. For painting, caulking, staining, and sanding, that’s usually when I take over.
- Use projects as teachable moments. A lot of times, for the non-dangerous tool tasks, we let Olivia get involved. We show her how tape measures, chalk lines, and levels work. We let her use a little hammer to help us drive in nails, and we’ll put her on our lap to pull the trigger on our power driver to insert screws. We supervise everything, of course, but it’s always a valuable lesson in showing her how things work and how to be proud of working with your hands to create. Because that’s certainly something she’ll never get from watching an iPad.
- Give kids their own DIY projects. Some days we’ll give Olivia her own piece of wood to paint or a pretty craft to do at the kitchen table. (Thank goodness for the bajillions of kiddy craft ideas on Pinterest.)
- Use ABCMouse.com or educational apps. If we do need to buy some extra time, we will give her our cell phone to distract her for a little bit. We really like ABCMouse.com’s app or we’ll let her play on her LeapFrog LeapStart. We try to stick to the educational things as much as we can, and we make up for it later after we’re finished with our project by taking her to the park or a bounce house place to get plenty of exercise.
- Surprise them with a “new” toy (or cardboard box). Fact: A kid and a cardboard box is like a match made in heaven. How is that always the best toy ever? If you live in a neighborhood or have other mom friends, you can do toy swaps to keep your kiddo(s) occupied with something “new” while you work without really having to spend a dime.
- Arrange a babysitter ahead of time. We’re very fortunate to live near both sets of Olivia’s grandparents, so we’ll arrange with them ahead of time to take her out somewhere for a play day while we knock out a project. If they weren’t around, we’d probably hire a sitter to take her out since we work faster without her being home. Totally worth it.
- Make DIY your date night! Robert and I usually crank up the music and dance around and sing and act silly while we do our DIY projects anyway, so some nights we’ll just make it a date if Olivia spends the night with grandparents. We’ll indulge in some take out, saw and paint like crazy, and sit back to gaze at our hard work afterwards with a glass of wine. Then, whenever we walk by that feature we built in our house for the days to come (like our fireplace or playroom built-ins), we think of our fun date.
(How much of a ham is this kid? Seriously.)
Maybe one of these days we’ll find out for ourselves what wrangling more than one kiddo is like while we go all Bob Vila status. I’m sure it’s much, much harder when you have multiple little ones running around, but I’m hoping this helped a bit.
Do you have any solutions you use for keeping your babes occupied while you work around the house? Or have your kids helped with any of your projects? I’d love to hear about them!