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6 Tips to Get Projects Done with Little Ones

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

October 18, 2021

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Recently, my husband’s family came over for dinner. I apologized to my mother-in-law for the disarray in the bathroom, asking her to forgive the mess surrounding my latest painting project, the vanity. She kindly replied not to worry about a mess and she did not know how I could homeschool and do projects.


Let me first assure you that I am not a wonder mom like many bloggers and you-tubers who seem to “get it all done.” I work hard on my house, but if you came over, it is at some stage of messy/in-the-process-of-being-cleaned. I have a looping cleaning cycle, but my house is hardly ever perfectly neat and clean. It is just not possible for me at this stage in my life and with all the responsibilities on my plate. My point is to assure any readers of my normal mom life full of messes, never-ending projects, and feelings of inadequacy.


In this short post, I would like to offer a few small words of wisdom to anyone who is struggling to accomplish tasks in her home. I have learned so much in my days of mothering, and my heart longs to help others learn so that they do not have to struggle as I did. Nothing I will share is profound, but I hope my encouragement can help someone.


1. Pick an area or room of your house to work on and stay focused on just that area.

Do not worry about other rooms until you finish your goals in the selected area. If you have ideas for other rooms, jot them down in a notebook or on your phone, but do not jump around starting other projects until you accomplish your goals. At the beginning of this year, I decided to work on one room in our house, the master bath. I have been keeping a mental log of ideas for the rest of the house, but I have not let myself “open the paint can” for any other areas until the bathroom is done.


2. Break down a large project into smaller jobs.

Several years ago we hired my father-in-law, a wonderful carpenter, to do a number of tasks in the master bath that my husband did not have time to do. Dad built and installed cabinets above the washer and dryer (our laundry is in the master bath), he installed a new vanity, and he put up bead board and trim on the lower half of the walls. I never finished all the painting after dad’s work, so I decided it was high time to finish.


I broke the somewhat nebulous concept of “finishing the bathroom” down into these tasks.

· Paint the walls (done)

· Paint the trim (done)

· Patch holes in the laundry area (done)

· Paint the vanity (working on it)

· Make curtains (done)

· Paint the mirror frame (still need to do)


Your project job list will certainly look different than mine, but I hope you can get some ideas of how to break a large, overwhelming project down into manageable tasks. For the most part, I could accomplish these smaller tasks in about a week. Painting the walls took me several weeks, but even then I broke the job down into manageable tasks. Sometimes I would set a timer and paint for 15 minutes, and whatever I got done in that time was all I accomplished that day.


3. Find “pockets of time” to work on your project.

In an ideal world, I envision large chunks of time to complete entire projects, but that is a fantasy for me. I have learned to value small bits of time and accomplish as much as possible in those little bits. I usually have a few minutes in the mornings when all of my children are occupied, so I work for a few moments on my projects. (Let me say that I do not tackle big projects in the midst of a homeschool week. We school year round with breaks, and I wait until a break week to work on projects.)


One day last week, I got my paint supplies out and put up painter’s tape around the vanity. That was all I accomplished that day, but you know what, that is okay! I was moving forward in progress. The next day I got out my roller and rolled the whole vanity. I did not get the trim work done, but the next day I worked on trimming the cabinet. My point in sharing all of these details is to help you see that it is okay not to conquer an entire project in one day. Even a little progress is still forward momentum.


4. Do not be a perfectionist.

Life is short, too short to spend constantly working on your house. People are more important than things, and I want to invest in the people God has placed in my home and life. I have learned to do the best I can in the amount of time that I have. I would rather have an imperfectly-accomplished project than an unfinished project that sits around for years, driving me nuts.


5. Be patient.

Remember that many bloggers and you-tubers literally get paid to work on their homes; working on their homes is their job! So often I forget this fact and get frustrated that projects finish so slowly at my house.


6. Let your children help you.

Will children make a mess? Absolutely! My daughter wanted to help me paint today, and yes, she got paint on the counter and on the floor. But I want to teach her how to make her home beautiful someday and what better way than to let her help me today with projects. Working together on a project also gives us time to work on our relationship and hone our “teamwork” skills.

 

This post certainly does not cover every aspect of time and project management, but I hope it was an encouragement to some momma or person out there who wants to work on her home but just doesn’t know where to start. Even with little ones underfoot, with some creativity you can carve out time to work on your home!


I took about two weeks to paint our little bathroom vanity which is ridiculous to a serious DIYer, but I am thankful to have this project done.


-Ashley

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