How do you do yard work/home improvement projects with young children? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 04-14-2011, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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We have a 3 yr old and an 11 mo old.  We own a house so we obviously have routine yard maintenance and we've got a list of home improvement projects that my DH will do.  Neither of us are really "into" yard work, we basically just do the bare minimun to keep it presentable.  I obviously can't do too much during the week, so it seems like the whole weekend is taken up by trying to get this stuff done.  When DH is working on a project, he's better if we're out of the house so I find myself in the same boat I'm in all week-trying to entertain the kids by myself and feeling resentful of DH.

We can easily work in the yard with the 3 year old, but the baby is just everywhere and putting everything in her mouth so I don't feel comfortable just letting roam around.  Plus, we have a dog and although we pick up the poop I just don't like her crawling around in the grass.

My MIL is a yard perfectionist and I hate it when she comes over (which she does once a week to watch the girls while I work), because she's always commenting on what needs to be done.

So anyway, I guess what I'm wondering is of anyone has any tips on how to accomplish outdoor projects with the children and how much do you all do in your yards?  Should we just postpone these projects for a couple years until they're a little bigger?

Thanks so much for any suggestions!

Mom to 2 amazing girlies, Feb. '08 and May '
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#2 of 13 Old 04-14-2011, 05:51 PM
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can your MIL come over an extra time a week, perhaps, and watch the kids while you and dh do the projects together?

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#3 of 13 Old 04-14-2011, 06:59 PM
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We do the minimum. Neither of us love yardwork or find it to be a priority. There is a big section of our property that is sided by fairly busy roads & they get super neglected 'cause I cannot do a thing with ds around 'cause I cannot turn my back on him for a second. Within the fenced in area I can work pretty well, but slowly as he wants to be in the middle of all projects "helping".


With the little one, could you bring a playpen or play yard outside to keep her a little more confined?

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#4 of 13 Old 04-14-2011, 07:24 PM
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Dog poo is a problem here too, I clean up daily but sometimes I miss one (like today, when I stepped in it) so I get weirded out with DS crawling around sometimes -- one thing we are going to do is block off a small section of the yard and only let the dogs "poo and pee" in their when we let them out. I know I won't be able to control this 100% but I know it will help...


Our yard is small (we live in an urban area) so I'm able to keep an eye on DS but I do think about getting a small playpen for outside when I really need to get serious gardening done. I hate hate hate playpens but after stopping him from putting things in his mouth today I'm just about ready for one! 

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#5 of 13 Old 04-14-2011, 07:36 PM
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Good question! I have been trying to figure out how to do this for 2 years now!

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#6 of 13 Old 04-14-2011, 07:39 PM
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I learned how to do things in the yard.  Sure, we've revamped a lot of stuff.  There was some cement work.  Some really big kind of readjustments.  Those required us to actually use people.  But, until recently, I didn't use gardeners.  I was out in our front yard, until I was 7 months pregnant, working with flagstone, planting, doing some brickwork, painting fences, working on irrigation and figuring out landscape lighting.  Not that I advocate working like I did while pregnant though.


But, many things I've learned to do because I want a break from the kids on the weekend.  If it needs to get done, it is either DH or I doing it, and usually the only time comes on Saturday or Sunday.  If I don't want to get stuck with yet one more day.... ALL DAY LONG.... with all three kids, I've got to figure out how to do it and stick DH with the kids.


And, after quite a few years, I really do love being a DIY person.  


As for you MIL, why not ask her to come help you on the weekend to work on the next thing she criticizes while she's over?


I'm imagining, "Oh, mom2lucy, it is such a shame you don't have bulbs planted along the walkway".... and you say, "Funny you should mention that, I was just thinking it would be great if you could come over and show me how to plant bulbs this weekend.  Do you think you could stop by the nursery and pick up some, along with the right dirt, because I know you'll know just the right things to choose.  I'll make sure I've got some cool drinks for us.  By the way, do you want me to call you and remind you to bring your kneeling pad?  I imagine that you might need some cushioning while you are down digging around."




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#7 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 06:04 AM
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I either put dd on my back for stuff like shoveling snow, putting down fertilizer, raking. Or in an exerciser type thing when I need to bend down

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#8 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 06:18 AM
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LOL! We had the same issue a couple of weekends ago with my 4yo and 11.5mo, so I totally know where you're coming from.

I set out a picnic blanket with some toys, and the girls were content to play there for a little bit. Then the older one played with sidewalk chalk while the little one looked around and played a little while longer. That bought us maybe a half an hour, which is a good chunk of time if you work like mad. Then little started crawling all over, but that was fine for about 15 min, maybe 30 but only if you fish out some grass and leaves from her mouth. Once she started munching on mulch, I popped her in the stroller with some toys and rolled her around the house with me as I worked. All in all, I think we managed to get an hour, maybe an hour and a quarter before going back inside for diaper/nursing/etc. Come nap time, I popped down the little one and bring the baby monitor outside with me while breaking out a zillion toys for the older one or letting her "help" me. That's another 30 min. or so, more if your LO sleeps well.

I've babyworn in the past, and I agree that a back-carry can be very helpful, too. But in general I consider myself lucky if I get in 2 hours of yardwork per weekend day with my little monkeys. smile.gif

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#9 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 06:20 AM
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We generally do the bare minimum as well -- except that we often start bigger projects despite not finishing that 'bare minimum' lol so our house & yard are in an interesting state. Our upstairs has been under renovation for THREE YEARS (it's very small and should have been done in a couple months at most!)

I have a chronic illness, which complicates things because I can't do much myself. But if I COULD, I would send DH out of the house with the kid(s) and do the yard work myself. I know you said you aren't crazy about yard work, but maybe if it's something you can do alone & get totally absorbed in, you might start to enjoy it?

Another idea is to get together with a group of friends and take turns at each others' house... if there are 4-8 parents, there will always be enough adults to work on the yard and 1 or 2 to stay in another part of the yard or inside with the kids.

And finally, you could always hire someone to do the work (high school or college kids might be a good option if the projects are pretty simple!)

As far as your MIL... Well, that's her problem... but you could always respond with something like, "You're welcome to come over and work on that tomorrow!" or "OK, can you come watch the kids this weekend so we can get that done?" But really... try not to let her get to you....

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#10 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 06:49 AM
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I have a 6, 3 and 1 yr old.   

The big ones stay in the sand box, play soccer, or ball.  

I'll give them a job like collecting sticks and putting them in the wagon to bring to the fire pit.   Or I let them help me.   If i'm pulling weeds or raking...etc.  

The baby gets scared so we've been doing the more heavy duty stuff when she is napping in the afternoon.   I plan to bring the pack and play out so she can feel a little safer.  And I'll bring the pack and play around with me so she can see me.    I don't feel comfortable wearing her while doing yard work.   I'm hoping as we spend more time out back, she will get more used to it and push her stroller or the little bubble mower around.   but right now she's just freaked out by the size of our yard, the cars and giant trees.  So she just stands there.   lol

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#11 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 08:18 AM
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I think this is one of those things that just gets so much easier when the kids get a little older. My boys are 9 and 6 now, so old enough that they can help in the yard, or can play on the swings or ride bikes while I am working out there. We moved into this house 5 years ago and we have had various methods of yard care during that time.


Honestly, at first, when our boys were so little, a lot of it just didn't get done. Neither DH nor myself are that motivated about yard work and we really don't enjoy it, so mowing and throwing a little mulch down once in a while was it.


I am lucky enough that my mother lives across the street and she is very passionate about gardening. So, she will come over every couple of weeks and plant something or weed or do general maintenance. I never know what I will come home to smile.gif


This year, though, I have been making more of an effort, mostly because I figure if we don't maintain what we have, it will cost a lot more to fix/replace it all later. So, DH and I have been out there working on the weekends. At least both of us are being tortured so it doesn't seem as bad to be out there.


I do want to say that the best thing we've ever done is hire someone to mow the lawn. They come in the early spring and do a lawn clean up (pick up sticks, overseed bare areas etc), then once a week during the summer season, and then they do a leaf pick up in the fall. They'll even come and plow the driveway in the snoow. It's really much more reasonably priced (at least around Kentucky) than I thought it would be and it is worth every dollar to us. Now, DH and I don't have to fight about who is going to mow and, at the very least, I know that is going ot be done on a regular basis.

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#12 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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thank you so much for the great replies!  I never thought to bring the pack n play out, so that's a great one.  Also I will just start suggesting MIL to do the work, or asking her to watch the girls.  I know that in a couple years this will get much better, it's just depressing to walk outside and see so many things that need tending to and just aren't.  Thanks for the support and any more is appreciated!

Mom to 2 amazing girlies, Feb. '08 and May '
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#13 of 13 Old 04-15-2011, 08:39 PM
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wow! Sounds like us. And if you could see our yard and house, you'd know my answer to your question! That is to say, too much of the work just has to wait. even regular weeding gets impossible; we lost some real ground for a few years there--we couldn't afford yard help and couldn't manage to get it done, between the parenting, the working, the freelance night jobs.....ugh what a struggle it was, and the yard was starting to look like a rain forest. Now that he's 8 we can actually put him to work! yay!!  But I really identified with your post, right down to the detail about the MIL who walks around pointing out what I need to do in my yard. Grr!

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