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Monday Mom challenge: Home improvement projects with kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Family improvement

When spring appears on the horizon, many a household start thinking about renewal in more ways than welcoming warmer weather. There's the traditional spring cleaning, of course - but there often are also other ideas and plans for bigger home improvement projects. Spring just tends to bring that out in people. Whether the project is simply sprucing up a single room with a new paint, of major landscaping endeavor, taking some time to think about how such a project will impact your kids - or even how they can help - will go a long way to any home improvement project's eventual success.

Mom painting with kids

Taking care of a family is a big job - and taking care of the home that family lives in is no small task, either. Own or rent, single family detached or high-rise apartment, home maintenance is a part of your life. While it can be easy (and sometimes preferable) to abdicate or out-source maintenance and improvement projects while the kids are young, sometimes things have to get done.

Daydream as a family

When you think about projects you'd like to do around the house, down limit your dreams to your own head. Ask your kids what they think would be an improvement to their physical home life and why. A child's answer might surprise you with its creativity and foresight - and may lead you to recognize things that could be or need to be done to improve not just your bricks and mortar home, but the way you live your life. And when the kids are involved and positively inclined towards a house project, it's just momentum to actually get it done.

Plan realistically

Identify what you want to accomplish with your family budget and calendar in mind. Some things might get pushed down on the list due to cost considerations, yes, but of what remains, consider what might have the greatest positive impact on the whole family. With some sprucing up, could a room that rarely gets used now become a real family gathering place?

Take a good look at your calendar for the spring. With so many activities that pop up, schedule time to do your home projects now, around the "regular" stuff (including the kids'), and stick to that schedule.

Actually getting it done

But how do you actually DO the work, especially of your children are younger? If your plans specify sweat equity as part of the process, late nights after the kids are in bed (provided your noise won't wake the kids or bother the neighbors) are one way to go. Sometimes you need to factor in a sitter to help with the kids (a younger sitter, whom you can pay less, might be appropriate as you'll be very nearby), and sometimes you can barter with friends and neighbors: they watch your kids while you do some house projects and you return the favor the next weekend.

Check out our list of 5 DIY projects you can do in one weekend!

Get them working

As kids get a little older, they definitely can help in your home projects - and often like to! Get your kids some work gloves and/or some appropriate sized tools and get them to work where absolute precision and perfection doesn't matter. In addition, working with your child on house projects teaches actual skills and important lessons about home care and protecting one's investments.

When spring projects come dancing into your head, don't dismiss them because you don't know what to do with the kids. Include them in the process from day one and you're more likely to get the projects done!

More activities with kids:

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