If you ever wondered if our children play quietly in the corner of the garage when we do DIY projects, the answer is no. They have never. ever. played. quietly. I think they were born without that gene. They enter a room and I faintly sing “And they came in like a wreeeeeecking balllllllll……” behind them. So what the heck do they do when we work on DIY projects? And how the hammer drill do we find the time to DIY when kids are around? Because they are. Always. Around.
Well, I thought it would be an interesting subject to not only share some tips on how to DIY with kiddos in the mix but also how to find the TIME to diy with kids in general. Am I qualified to share these tips? I don’t know….I’m too busy chasing four kids ages six and under to figure that out….which probably makes me immediately qualified. Ha! Here are my best tips when it comes to the task of DIYing with Kids….
Containment in Key
Hanging a gallery wall? Set up a pack-n-play in your space and let your little ones play inside with new-to-them toys. Or if they are a little bigger, let them pretend that it is a tent. Let them eat a snack in there, put on a puppet show or read books. No Pack-n-play? Get a giant fridge box from your local Walmart or Best Buy. Let them color the walls! KEEP THEM CONTAINED AT ALL COSTS. And then mom & dad, realize that kids have a time limit. Twenty minutes is all you get out of a containment situation. TOPS. A exersaucer is the same idea. As is a playroom. You get to do your DIY within eye shot and they aren’t smashing your glass picture frames.
Work Near Play
Sometimes the best solution is to create a workshop near a place of play (or vice versa). In our situation, we have a garage that we do the majority of building and crafts in…..at the end of the driveway we put the trampoline and it’s visible (to referree those sibling spats) or we have ‘chalk day’ or ‘tape out roads day’ (where the kids get to use tape to make matchbox roads on the floor) or we allow the kids to play with our pile of scrap wood. They make amazing crashing towers and imaginary boats from 2×4 pieces!
Wait for a Rainy Day
I kinda hate rainy days….stuck inside…no sunshine….everything that gets tracked inside is wet and muddy and a general mess. But last year I realized that rainy days are perfect for DIYs….the kids can do a slip-n-slide outside if it’s warm enough or just be a puddle jumper for twenty minutes…and if it’s cold, then they are eager to bundle up and watch a movie. Make it fun with popcorn or treats like hot cocoa….and you can Netflix something vintage like Wizard of Oz or Singing In the Rain. I know. I said MOVIES. But let’s face it, most kids get more tv time when the weather is crummy….might as well make the most of it!
Do a Trade Off
Have another mom friend that you know that is looking for a day break to tackle her own DIY projects? Trade afternoons for the kids to be together and you two to get things done. Maybe you watch ALL the kiddos on Tuesday and then hand them off on Wednesday to tackle painting the nursery! Make sure you set yourself some rules up front – NO CLEANING OR LAUNDRY….ONLY DIY. Also, dropping the kids off with extra special snacks is a sure fire way to win the kids over. Or plan for an afternoon of bowling where the kids all do a scheduled activity and the other mom can run home for a couple hours while you do the activity and lunch.
Make a List
One of the biggest ways Jeremy and I get things done is to make a list of a particular project. It can be labeled “BATHROOM” and then each item is segmented into task and who does it and how long it should take. This to-do timeline helps us know exactly what the next step is and how we can tag-team the process. We actually own and use this to-do-list to help….just hang it on the fridge for a central location.
Work at Night
You can probably already tell from our crappy nighttime photos but we do a lot of DIY at night. One night a week we try to put the kids down and change into ‘work’ clothes to tackle a project while the kids are catching some zzzz’s. We find that just being together to do the project (even if I am just sitting there replacing batteries in kids toys while he paints), it is much more enjoyable. Also 80’s music is a must 🙂
Schedule a Party
A few of our friends are big believers in the idea of DIY parties. They have a giant to-do list and so they invite a bunch of people over via Facebook for free pizza and beer to do a couple hours of painting, demo or landscaping. Usually one mom is in charge of all the kiddos and they watch the little ones in the play room while the masses get moving. Many hands make light work!
Can’t Beat Em Join Em
There are TONS of DIY activities that kids are great at and we believe that kids should learn how to do things safely and well! We aren’t teaching our kids how to handle a miter saw (yet!) but a drill and a paint brush are easy and fun tools that kids can use. I spray paint a lot of things and I have a ‘spray paint pot’ for the boys (it was free and plastic)….they spray the pot while I spray my project. They get all my old cans of spray paint – the ones that barely have any in it and usually use a spray handle to help but it’s one small way they can learn how to do this DIY task. Or when I am building a piece of furniture, they get to sand. If I am painting a room, they get their own brush. Just remember that drop clothes are your best friend 🙂
Add to the Bunch
I know this sounds counterproductive but sometimes adding MORE kids to the brood actually helps keep the masses more entertained. We have a neighbor that is a couple years older and loves playing with the kids and we can invite him over to play hide-n-seek with the boys and it buys us a little time to fix the pantry shelves or hang a light fixture. Or my sister will come over with her group so we can craft together. The kids get to play with cousins and we are in mommy-crafting heaven on a high (VERY HIGH) countertop 🙂
Hire a Mommy’s Helper
There are little girls in the neighborhood that are GREAT with kids….their energy levels are high, their knees are supple and they love earning a couple dollars to play with your little ones. Arrange with their moms to have them over to help play with the toddlers while you tackle an hour-long task. You can give the tween a few dollars to pay for her time and it will be well-worth the assistance she gave you. This is most helpful if you have activities already ready….like puzzles, magnets, playdoh (make sure she knows they shouldn’t eat it!) and coloring books.
Keep it in the Family
Save those giant projects for when you have a big chunk of help from your family members. A lot of projects only take 30 mins to an hour and can be cut into manageable chunks but some are much bigger….like tiling a floor or painting large rooms or are time sensitive. Arrange for grandparents to come over and watch for those bigger tasks. You can hand over the keys to take the kids bowling or to get slushies or to take them to a local playground and it allows you to really make some headway!
Set A Deadline
This might be the craziest suggestion on this list but it is HIGHLY effective. Start demo of a room and then schedule a party in that space. Give yourself just enough time to finish the project and you will be amazed at the motivation that ensues. You will realize that deadline is LOOMING and you will kick it into high gear to get things in order before your big shindig. I know. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen but you will be shocked at how much you actually get done.
Make It Happen
Sometimes you just have to work with the kids in tow. Babywearing. Constant interruptions. Wasted materials. It’s all part of parenting while DIYing. Allow yourself to realize that doing things yourself does cost something….patience, energy, and sometimes a slice of your sanity. BUT you also get a giant fat reward out of it….you can save some money, create a beautiful space or have a much used project completed and you can celebrate that WITH your kids. Allowing them to see the reward is important (just as it is for you!) and even if that means a special donut run, make sure you and your kids get to do that together. Making it happen sometimes is the result of just saying to yourself “I’M DOING THIS TODAY RAIN OR SHINE, CRYING OR FITS, HELL OR HIGHWATER.” And then you put on your superman cape and just DO IT.
Hope you guys all get a little nugget of hope from this post and I really would love to hear your best solutions to the age old question of HOW THE HECK DO YOU DO IT WITH KIDS?!