Tackling Projects When You Have Little Ones: 4 Moms

moms of many manageWhat do you do with a house full of children when it’s time to paint the walls, clean out the attic or tackle a big project? This week the 4 Moms of Many are talking about how we accomplish projects with little ones around.


clutter nick 2

Nicholas (now 3) helping

Don’t forget your priorities. Don’t get so absorbed in your project that you speak crossly with your children or ignore them when they need correction. (Believe me I am speaking to myself on this one.) These children are forever and you are their world.

When I am going to tackle a project  the first thing I do is sit down and spend some special time with my younger children. Something simple like reading a book or playing a game. This fills up their little love tanks and they seem to be much happier and content to play independently.

Utilize nap or rest time for tasks that require focused, uninterrupted work.

When I’m ready to start a project the youngest child gets put into the ERGO (if possible) and the toddler is given a task to help mommy. Usually the toddler tasks involve running items here and there or fetching things for mom. If I’m deep cleaning then he gets a damp rag or perhaps even a spray bottle and cloth to help clean.

A gate is a great tool to keep a toddler in the room with you, but out of the mess (especially if you’re painting).

clutter nick 3

Nicholas (now 3)

When he tires of helping, I usually have some idea of activities or toys for him to play. Here are some long lasting, toddler pleasers.

  • Put out a gate (this is not necessary, but helps define their area so that you don’t end up with popcorn all over the house) and a variety of kitchen items (funnel, different sized containers, pitchers, measuring cups and spoons, etc) and un-popped popcorn kernels (or rice or pasta). The rules are everything should stay inside the gate (of course some will get out, but no dumping things outside of the gate), no throwing and no eating. *rolls eyes*
  • Play dough, moon sand and finger paint. Preferably outside. (Our home has a gated deck that wraps around the entire back of the house and is visible from most of the living areas.)
  • Butcher paper and markers
  • Put them in a swimsuit, put water in the tub and then let them play with Playmobile (or another toy not normally allowed in the bath). Do NOT leave them unattended, but this works if your project is in or beside a bathroom.
 If you’ve taught your children to play independently, now is a great time for them to utilize that ability.

Take occasional short breaks to love on and tickle those babies. Play some fun music and stop working to dance through a song with them. It doesn’t have to be long. They just want to be part of your day, everyday.

Nearly all of the 4 Moms topics are generated by questions that our readers have asked. This particular question was specific,

How do you find time for projects that need to be done, require focused attention and which the children can’t help with?

and I wanted to mention a couple of things.

Depending upon how much focused attention is required and how old your oldest child is, perhaps the project should not be done unless another adult is around to supervise the children.

I recently posted about the importance of including your children in as much as possible on Raising Homemakers. Every around-the-home project that I can think of has some aspect where children could ‘help’. Gathering supplies, cleaning up trash, bringing you a drink or keeping a younger child entertained or away from project related materials can all be helpful. Think creatively, they may not be able to help with everything, but they can probably help with something.

Isabella (1) helping with laundry

How do you balance big projects and motherhood?

Most of this info is re-posted from Simplifying with Little Kids.

Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what they have to say about this topic:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room

For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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4 Responses to Tackling Projects When You Have Little Ones: 4 Moms
  1. Gabe
    October 20, 2011 | 9:24 am

    We’re knee deep in a project right now…. Moving in after an out of state move (military). Thanks for the tips! I’ve been using some of those, and it truly does help to keep the kids involved in any way possible. My two and three year olds love helping me unpack boxes, it may take longer but their little hearts are happier (and so is mine)! My “big” boys (9 and 8) are so eager to work on many of the projects that I thought daddy would have to do after work, I’m having to remember that these are little men in training and that they need to be allowed to do some of these projects for us!
    Now I’m off to find the roll of butcher paper for the little ones….


  2. Shannon@sillygeesedesigns
    October 20, 2011 | 1:27 pm

    just thought I’d share a frugal way to get a roll of paper to keep kids busy and happy. Many newspapers will give away there end rolls if you ask. I know the Austin Statesman does this as I got a few rolls a few years ago. They can’t use these pieces because are two small to load into the machines, but still big enough for tons and tons of play. Its not butcher paper, but unprinted newspaper, may have lots of applications.


  3. Anita Chamblee
    October 20, 2011 | 3:28 pm

    We’ve recently been involved in some home improvement projects and have had not only our young ones, but our grandchildren here as well. I often commented to my husband (especially when the 23yo and almost 19yo were away) that we didn’t have enough children! WE NEED OLDER CHILDREN!! What a great blessing it is to have older children when you still have little ones! The baby needed one older one and then we had a 2, 3 and 4 yo boys who needed supervision. They all want to be right where the excitement is, but that is not safe for them. We just try to make sure we have enough older hands around. Usually we have multiple projects going on at the same time….I am in the kitchen canning or such and need a helper and dh is building, painting, or laying tile and needs one or two helpers who can really work.


  4. Amber
    March 9, 2012 | 6:58 pm

    Thank you so much for posting about my question! I really appreciate your tips and insights. You are so right about priorities. I think I should look into the ERGO.


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