Our family spent the weekend working, working, working! We’ve been rearranging our little home to better suit our current and future needs as a family and the boys were right there with us the entire time (OK, we did have to send them out to the back yard a couple of times and did put in a show for them from time to time when things got super hectic, but for the most part, they were right there in on the action with us).
We started the day with painting the boys beds, and let me tell you, the boys were really into it. I love the excitement and fervor little ones have when the are included in on “adult” work.
Wanting to take advantage of their excitement, I decided to put them to work. So we suited them up in paint gear (a.k.a old seasonal pj’s) gave them some brushes and rollers and let them go at it. Well, we did have some guidelines for them, so things didn’t get too out of control, such as:
1. Stay on the plastic.
2. Only dip your brush/roller into the paint after applying several coats to the beds.
3. When dipping into paint only get a little bit of paint, letting excess paint drip off before applying brush/roller to bed.
Throughout this process I also learned that as a parent I needed to follow a few guidelines myself, such as:
1. Don’t overreact when they make mistakes (which is pretty much a guarantee with Littles), such as when they get globs of paint in spots on the bed. Simply point out what is going on and help them to smooth it out.
2. If you need to go back over things, be careful to let them know that they did a great job, and that your painter job is the “follow upper”, or something with an even sillier name.
3. Be patient.
4. Put on some fun motivating music to keep all of your spirits up (we tuned it to Pandora’s Vampire Weekend station and rocked out).
5. Try to run with their enthusiasm and not to squelch it when they want to do something above and beyond what you had in mind for them. Realize that pushing your limits (as well as theirs) is just as much a part of this process.
6. But even still, remember that it’s OK to have boundaries, like when they want to paint the underside of the bed. Say, “Oh I’m so happy you LOVE painting so much, but we don’t really need to do that and we are done, so let’s put the paint and brushes away now”.
7. Teach them how to clean up (and the importance of it), even though you really just want to do it yourself as it will be much faster and a whole lot less of a mess.
8. Sigh in relief when it’s all through, and then pat yourself on the back for aiding in creating self-actualized human beings and relish in the family work time spent together.
(notice how I had many more guidelines than they did throughout this process?! Remember, teaching kids to work, and to love it, is actually more work for you in the short term, but a huge pay off for both you and them in the long run).
I can recall a number of fond memories working with my family as child. One such memory involved my dad and my older sister and I deep cleaning our entire kitchen one Saturday morning so that we could then go to a water park later on that afternoon. I’m sure I initially wasn’t into it but as we all chipped in together and cranked up the Beach Boys we all had a really really fun time. (I still think of this memory when hearing certain Beach Boys songs to this day! I think my sister also introduced me to Tori Amos that morning and I’ve loved her ever since.) I can remember feeling closer to my dad and sister in this moment than in our typical day to day interactions. Isn’t it crazy how work can do this?! I also remember that the first water park we wanted to go to was closed down so our dad drove us all the way to Loveland, Co (another town just outside of where we lived) to catch the very last few moments of that water park before it closed. I can’t say as I remember much of that water park experience, but I do remember the fun I had cleaning the kitchen with my dad and sister very well!
OK, so In addition to painting beds, we moved the boys into our larger room and put our things into a much smaller room (which I actually LOVE a whole lot more as it has a much more cozy, clean and simple vibe to it now). I got a quick snapshot of the boys new “in progress” room just as the light was beginning to fade (which explains the dark, graininess of the photo).
We love it so far (although I really want to change the boys quilts out for a simple grey and white patterned comforter, such as these from West Elm. Don’t you just love peach and grey together?! Although Jon fears it will veer too feminine. What do you think?). Well I was sure to point out to the boys what a difference all of their hard work made, and they are definitely over the moon about their new beds. We have sort of a manta in our house that goes something like “sometimes things are hard, but we do them anyway”. We are then sure to point out the pay offs, and stuff like, “it will get easier the more you do it”, etc. I’m big on not letting my kids miss out on experiences in life just because they were too afraid or because it was “too hard” (or let’s be honest, because it was too hard for me to deal with at the time). Jon jokes that I sort of lean towards a “China Mom” parenting philosophy in this respect. I’m definitely not all China Mom but I strongly agree with the last statement from this article:“the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.”