The blankets of snow have rolled back, and for those of us with property we get to start doing yard work again. We had our annual respite (too long for some), so now we can see the leftover leaves, the need for color, and the many other projects left by Winter.
Now for those of us with young children we have to figure out how to get it all done during nap time or find a way to do it with your child(ren) by your side. If your projects are small enough and your kids nap is long enough, then you’ll be fine.
However, if your project list can’t be contained by a single legal pad and your kids don’t seem to enjoy the glory of a nap for long enough—or at the right time—then you’ll need to plan on having extra “helping hands” in the yard.
The first thing to know is that your project’s timetable must expand. No matter how old your helper may be they will slow you down. So plan on spending more time, even extra days, on projects that may have once been quick and easy.
Last week I was starting to move some rocks and prep an area for a flower garden. Mikaela, our 28-month-old, wanted to help. I lucked out on this one as the only extra time I spent was in thinking of something for her to do, so that she was “helping” but still out of the way. While I was thinking she began to pick up some lava rocks and asked, “I move these too?” Bingo! She had a task that she wanted to do, and it would be helpful while being unobtrusive.
The next thing to account for is your attention. The “helping hands” may wander away or do something that sets back your progress, so you need an eye on your helper at all times. Multitasking is a parental skill we all need, but this will test you and hopefully sharpen you for the future.
The other component of your attention to consider is how much of it you want to give to your child: Will you keep an eye on her? Will you hold her hand while she does what you’ve shown her? Will you work side-by-side and talk? Will you teach? These aren’t all of your options, but knowing what you want to do ahead of time will definitely save you some stress.
Plan ahead and you will not only reduce stress, but you’ll complete your project while having quality time with your child(ren).