Including kids in "grown-up" projects doesn't just present opportunities for memory-making; it also shows them that they are capable little humans, who will grow into self-sufficient big humans.
Kids: wonderful, adventurous little bundles of curiosity. Askers of outlandish questions, master artists (medium of choice: crayon on wall), and doers of magical, messy things. We so-called “grown ups” marvel at the way they can keep themselves entertained with the simplest things--but what happens when that goes awry?
Especially if you’ve chosen to keep your little one’s eyes more-or-less unglued from screens, you know what trouble can occur if they’re left to their own devices too long. Boredom quickly turns to chaos--and why shouldn’t it? We’re all built to do. We’re all built...to build.
Kids are innately endowed with the desire to design, construct, and destroy. It’s part of being curious. So we got to thinking--how can we take that restless energy and channel it into something that’s productive, fun, and allows for a little bonding, to boot?
The answer, we think, is to involve kids in our home improvement efforts.
“But those are grown up jobs.”
Not so fast. We’re not suggesting your 6-year-old take on a bathtub demolition, but we shouldn’t be so quick to underestimate our kids’ abilities, either. Chances are there are plenty of opportunities for your little one to contribute. Here are 5 to get you started.
There’s a reason painting is a quintessential kid project. It’s colorful. It’s messy. It’s freeing.
Allowing children to “graduate” from paper to real-life projects gives them a way to exercise those same creative muscles, but in a way that makes them feel like they’re doing adult work. (It’ll also give them the same satisfaction and pride adults feel when we get to admire something we’ve done ourselves.)
There are spaces that you’ll want to do yourself (trim, anyone?), but taking a little time to tape off more sensitive areas and teaching your little ones to use a roller on larger swaths of wall is easy and rewarding for all involved!
For an even bigger grown-up punch, let the kids help choose the colors, too. Present options you’ve already narrowed down, then discuss which you all like best, and why. Voila! Creative collaboration.
Why stop at walls? Grab the kiddos and go in on a faded mailbox or show old furniture love with a non-toxic wood stain.
On warm, sunny days, it’s tempting to pack the kids into the car and head to the park to let them run out their wiggles. Hold up--if you’ve been procrastinating gardening or other yard work, now’s your chance to get the job done. Chances are you’ve got at least one dirt enthusiast in the house--don’t let that opportunity go to waste!
Gardening is the perfect activity to bond with your kids. Teach them to properly dig up weeds, water the lawn, or plant some flowers or veggies. Get them even more involved by letting them pick out what to plant, paint their own pot or planter box, or set up a bird feeder. Urban parents don't have to miss out either; check out these tips for creating the perfect urban garden.
Gardening skills are multi-taskers, too. Not only can you create something beautiful together, but planting fruits and veggies teaches kids the importance of eating healthily. Who knows? They may be more open to eating broccoli if they grow it themselves!
Build A Playhouse
OK, building their own playhouse might be a bit ambitious. Still, there are plenty of small contributions kids can make to the construction of their little hideaways. Pick up an easy DIY playhouse plan and get to work!
Older kids might enjoy learning to use a hammer, while smaller ones can be tasked with selecting paint colors, hanging their own art, or choosing flowers for a planter box, a la Jen Woodhouse’s Easy Kids Indoor Playhouse (which can be made suitable for outdoor use, by the way).
Not quite ready to let the kiddos get their hands on the project? No problem! Keep them involved by working together to pick the playhouse plan or enlist them to hand off tools as you need them.
Make an Art Gallery
Not all home improvement projects require you to break a sweat. Keep it fun, simple, and engaging with a picture-hanging project. Hanging framed photos or art gives you an opportunity to introduce your tiny human to concepts of alignment and symmetry--not to mention a lesson in rulers (or measuring tape) and levels!
If your child is an obstinate DIYer, pick up some picture hanging strips and let them hang something all on their own. (You can always fix it later. *wink*)
Clean It Up
The most basic home improvement task of all--cleaning. We’re guessing you’re LOLing at this suggestion. (All our little kid eyes got stuck in the rolled-up position following the phrase, “Clean your room,” right?) Stay with us--there are ways to incentivize kids to help spruce up the house, and science says it’s a pretty good idea.
According to the AACAP, children who are required to do chores exhibit higher self-esteem, [are] more responsible, and [are] better equipped to deal with frustration, adversity, and delayed gratification.
If you’re having trouble convincing your little one to help out, first make sure you’re selecting age-appropriate to-dos, then consider creating a chore chart or making a game out of clean up time. How many toys can they pick up in ten minutes? Can they finish their task (putting away their clothes) before you finish yours (emptying the dishwasher)?
Make sure to create structure around chores, too. Routines contribute (in a big, big way) to a child’s sense of safety and reinforce his or her ability to form healthy habits, among other things.
There are plenty of home improvement projects you can do with your kids--and checking items off your to-do list isn’t even the best part. Including children in tasks around the home (which is, in part, theirs too!) teaches them valuable skills, creates meaningful memories, and contributes to their cognitive development. What’s more, they’ll learn early on that they are capable, independent beings who’ll be far less likely to rely on others for every little thing. Win-win-win!
Short on tools for your next memory-making project? Bet you anything we can help.