Wondering what you can do with your kids on a rainy day? Check your DIY job jar for some ideas.
Yes, it's possible to get some of those home improvement projects tackled with your kids around. In fact, you can and should involve them in many projects around the home.
Letting your kids help you with DIY projects, and even doing some designed specifically for kids, will keep them entertained, help them understand what goes into maintaining a house, and give you both a chance to bond.
"It's a great experience doing projects with your kids," said Tom Kraueleter, host of the home improvement radio show "Money Pit." "You're doing something meaningful, getting them off the electronic devices and developing some quality time to spend together."
Kraueleter and his oldest son built a shed together over many weekends from the ground up, a process he said took five times longer and cost twice as much as buying a shed, "but the experience was invaluable."
But in order to incorporate your kids into your projects, you will have to do some extra planning. Remember that you're working with the most amateur of amateur workers, so be prepared for mistakes and wandering minds. Here are four ways to engage your kids in a DIY project:
1. When considering kid-friendly projects, think about safety first. Make sure your kids have all the proper safety equipment — gloves, goggles, work clothes — and make sure you model that same behavior.
2. Over-prepare for messes and mistakes. If you have an older child that can handle some woodworking, buy extra wood in case a cut doesn't go quite right. If you're painting, cover your floor with an old sheet, tarp or blanket and remove as much furniture as possible.
3. Keep projects manageable and short. Children don't have long attention spans, so limit the project to an hour or two for younger kids. If you need to, break one large project into smaller tasks and be prepared to do some of the more menial ones yourself.
4. Involve the kids from the beginning, so they can see the project through to fruition. Kraueleter says no project is too big or too small for a child's imagination. While your little tykes probably can't help you install those laminate tiles, they can help pick out the color or style (with mom and dad's veto power, of course). Involving kids from the inception of a family project helps them feel a sense of ownership and keeps them interested. Listen to them as much as possible and tell them when they have good ideas.
What types of DIY projects will work well? Consider these options:
Painting. Painting is an easy and fun project to involve the kids. Teach them the basics of painting a smooth and drip-free layer with a brush or roller and let them go wild. Keep the kids away from the edges and any blue tape. When they're done they can hit the shower while you do the trim.
Building from a kit. Woodworking can be a little overwhelming, but if you're building from a kit, you can cut the time and effort required down to a more manageable size. Try building a playhouse, shed, stool or birdhouse. If your kids are old enough, let them handle the tools. They have to learn anyway, and a few successful turns with a hammer will build confidence.
Planting. Gardens are magical places for children and yours can easily help with planting, from first picking out bulbs and flowers to keeping them thriving. Kids love watching their own creations grow and take on life of their own. Get your kids involved early on by asking them what flowers they like — you can even designate a portion of your yard for your child's own personal garden. Take them with you to pick out plants, teach them your favorite gardening techniques and then hand them a shovel. Just make sure you keep handing them the watering can after the planting's done.