Thursday, August 3, 2017

Keep Kids Entertained During Your DIY Projects

A real mom's guide to squeezing out a few more minutes so you can actually finish that DIY project you just started.  Ditch the mom guilt - A discussion of some simple ideas to keep the kids entertained while you stay busy.

Laying all my cards on the table up front, I am not one of those moms who immediately invokes the sensational - "how does she do it all, her kids are so well behaved" - kind of feeling.  I'm usually the mother whose little ones are fighting over who gets to push the cart and is trying with all her might to make it to the car before 'yelling' at her kids to 'stop yelling'.

As such, I occasionally spend some time looking for ideas to entertain my kids that either keep them from fighting one another or distracts them long enough so that they lose their little boredom attitudes (you know which ones I speak of moms).  And just in case you think I'm trying to be cute, these are my munchkins below.  Taken on my son's first day of 1st grade last year- insert my daughter who refuses to be outshined (she doesn't even GO to school yet).


I must confess though, after reading some of these motherhood blogs for extra ideas, it would sporadically make me question my own mothering skills. How is it that this mom looks so polished, her home pristine?  Even the kids' crafts look like Martha Stewart ads.  Is there something I'm missing?  Am I messing up my kids? - Maybe, but I won't really know that 'till their older.  But seriously, I know EVERY mom has this thought at lease once. 

So with that motherhood solidarity in mind, I begin to realize it's ok to get frustrated. I love my kids dearly and try my best for them.  That's all they need. So I check myself, give my very dramatic 'whatever' eye roll and try to keep it movin' (which is my most recent mantra.  It's workin' pretty good for me so far too. Way off topic, but every woman needs their own tough girl mantra.  It's a life saver sometimes).

Ok, back to the lecture at hand...After my eye roll(s) I realized that I like my crazy, backwards life!
I remember I have two wonderful, smart, kind, funny kids.  That's enough validation right there.

So now that I've come back to reality and tossed some of that mom guilt out the window, I can admit further that I have NO patience.  I love watching HGTV's Fixer Upper, but I always wonder how Joana Gaines never gets frustrated when her kids jump in and help out? (she really is that cool!).  Ah, if only I could manage that.  But I can't.  So I find my way around it.

When I am doing DIY projects for my Etsy shop, my kids always want to "help".  Sometimes they surprise me, or I surprise myself, but sometimes they also end up spilling paint everywhere or play keep-away with the one tool that I needSo how do I hold my patience?  I stop yelling and start playing 'teacher'...after some long deep breaths of course.

I remind myself that kids just want to feel involved and important.  No one likes to be told "no" all day, or that they can't do something.  As a mom I am realizing my greatest job is to teach these awesome kids they can do anything and that they need to value their own worth. 

So, I usually try to begin my projects with #1 on my list.

1.  Ask for their opinion when creating or completing a DIY project

Now it doesn't mean you always have to use their opinion.  I don't think that painting pink Barbies all over is a great idea for my farmhouse sign, but this is where I am truly amazed by their little minds.  I can't tell you how many times my 6 year old son has given me my best ideas.
I spent half a day thinking about what to do with this wire basket.
My son had it figured out in 2 seconds! 'Hang it up with rope mom, you know, like the cowboys use'

Sometimes as adults we get tunnel vision when working on a project and we may have a hard time thinking outside the box, especially when our minds are preoccupied with so many other things nowadays.  Kids are free spirits, and as such, their imaginations are unmatched.  Asking their opinion will always make them calm down and feel good about themselves, and it is sure to help you out, one way or another!

2.  Give them their own project to work on

EVERY time I start to paint something my daughter jumps in and asks if she can help (whether I'm painting my nails or repainting furniture).  Sometimes I roll with it and let her paint an unseen place on the furniture.  But other times I put my foot down.  To avoid an all out meltdown, I ask her if she wants to paint her own project.  It seems to work pretty good.  We pull out some scrap paper and brainstorm on what she needs to build.  If this tactic needs a little extra help, I'll get some scrap wood and let her build a house.  The wood matches my project more closely so she feels like she is doing exactly what mom is doing.  Each kid is different, so make this work for you.

3.  Set up an activity that you KNOW keeps them busy

Sounds like a no-brainier right?  Maybe.  However, if my kids decide to become bored in the middle of my project, I get that tunnel vision again and just yell at them to "go find something to do".  Way to go super mom, great work there.  That is just an invitation for them to go bug their sibling and then the fighting inevitably ensues. 
I am adding this to the list so that we consciously make a note to pull ourselves away for a minute.  Taking 15 minutes to set up a play area for them will save you at least double or triple that time in the long run.  I am an avid backyard diy-er.  In summer I'm almost always painting or sanding something in my backyard.  When boredom strikes, I immediately fill up the kiddie pool or turn on the sprinkler and get them in their suits!  I'm already outside anyways so it's a win-win.

4.  Let them actually help

Yes, this may sound like it goes against the whole basis for this post but it doesn't.  Hear me out.  Whenever I have a power tool, my son reacts the same way my daughter reacts to my painting.  He is instantly by my side annoying me to help.  (I say 'annoying' but it all depends on his approach.  Most of the time he is SO CUTE!  He looks like a miniature version of his dad and it melts my heart.  Other times, like when I'm close to the finishing my project, it's just annoying.  Sorry if moms aren't supposed to say that but I just did).   Obviously I won't let him use a miter saw (he's too hyper for that), but if I have the electric sander or drill out, he's on deck. 

Sometimes both of my kids even join in.  Another option, if your kids have their own set of plastic 'power' tools, bring them out.  They can fix their bikes or the kitchen table, whatever needs work.

If I just give them a few opportunities to help mom, they feel so proud of their hard work, it boosts their self-esteem, and they still melt my heart.  I now just bought myself a few more minutes before my next mom task, except I skipped the 5 minutes of whining (I'm probably underestimating that 5 minutes there too).

5.  Take time out and play with them!

Kids grow up so fast.  My daughter is starting kindergarten this year so pretty soon I will have no babies home.  It's starting to make me sad, like I missed out on those five years because I had to work full time.  The upside of this though, is that it's refreshing my outlook.  Put down all the noise and chores and phones and projects and JUST PLAY with them.  Who really cares if that project sits in the corner unfinished for the next two weeks?  It will just join the pile of all my other unfinished chores (ahem, laundry pile that NEVER disappears!).  Oh well, just roll with it and keep it movin' mama!

Any other hard-working, devoted moms out there who love their kids but seem to get just as frustrated?  I feel like I can't be the only one with mom guilt on that one!

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