Before I met Micah’s father, I was the epitome of a jill of all trades in my household. I could give my car an oil change, install a dishwasher or washing machine, and I could definitely put together a bookshelf. Over the years, I got lazy…to the point where even this past winter, I was calling Micah’s father to install curtains and insulation to keep us warm during the harsh winter months. Even on the days that he would drive me absolutely nuts, I depended on him to help me do these things that I could do for myself, but just too lazy or unmotivated to do it myself. I’ve slowly began to regain my own power…and get things done on my own!
But now I’m not alone, I have little Micah who loves to help me do any- and every-thing that I’m doing.
Last weekend, Micah and I assembled our first bookshelf…and it has taught me one thing, it is definitely more fun to do things with your toddler instead of the frustration waiting for your son’s father!
So how do you build a bookshelf with your toddler and enjoy it??!! Here are 7 things to make sure to do in order to make it fun and educational!
1. Read the instructions beforehand.
Tip numero uno – make sure to read the instructions beforehand. You’ll only have time to take quick peeks to those instructions again during the assembly (while your toddler runs around you with the screwdriver and nails), so make sure to read the fine print before you get started.
2. Allow your toddler to join in the fun.
The experience of building anything could be frustrating and timely, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Add in your rambunctious toddler, who wants to do everything on their own and asking 5 million questions all at the same time, and you could have a really “fun” time (dripping with sarcasm).
But who cares! It’s all about the experience, not how long it takes. Allow your toddler to join the fun and enjoy the experience with you. As a single mom, it is these rare bonding moments that are so incredibly special to me. So don’t push them away when they want to help; have your toddler sit next to you, watch how it’s done, and even help out where needed.
3. Let your toddler count all of the pieces and tools to ensure you have everything, as indicated in the instructions.
How many times have you started a project only to find out that you don’t have everything you need to complete it? Drives me nuts! Especially when it took me so long to build the energy and motivation to start the project. I bought the bookshelf in early May and only took the time to assemble it last weekend. So if everything wasn’t there, I’d probably get to it again in the fall!
As Micah loves to count, this was fun and educational for him. He would look at the instructions to identify how many of a particular item he should have, then proceed to counting out all of the pieces. He got frustrated a few times because there were more pieces than identified; however, overall he was happy to be involved.
4. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
You will get frustrated! Every time your toddler runs off with the screwdriver or won’t bring back the wooden panel that you need as part of the assembly, close your eyes and take a deep breath. It will help to calm you down and come to the realization that your toddler is just enjoying the time with you. As long as your toddler isn’t touching anything harmful to themselves or others, I think it’s okay to let them enjoy the experience.
Don’t yell at them when they’ve done something, let them enjoy themselves. They really just want to have fun with you, although it may seem as though they are purposely trying to torture you. In the end, it will all be worth it!
5. Time is irrelevant when you’re doing things with your toddler.
I have heard many parents rush their toddler through an experience because they have other things to do. Time is irrelevant when you have a toddler. If you’re assembling a bookshelf, do it on a day where you have no chores to do or anywhere to be because it will honestly take lots of time, and you need to devote yourself to spending that quality time with your toddler. It literally took us about 4 hours to build the bookshelf, when it would’ve taken me 30 minutes to do it. But the experience of doing it together made those 4 hours all worthwhile.
6. Let your toddler get involved in some of the harder steps.
Micah would disappear in those moments where things were getting really easy, walking away telling me, “You got this, Mommy!” and walk over to watch some television. But when it was something difficult like holding one of the shelves while at the same time using the screwdriver to insert a screw, he was right there. He would either hold the shelf for me or he would use the screwdriver himself. Either way, he wanted to make sure that he was creating value to the project and that he was truly needed.
7. Let your toddler do the final step all on their own.
There is nothing more beautiful than watching the sense of accomplishment that your toddler has on their face when they achieve a goal. I let Micah put on all of the screw covers all on his own, and he was so happy! When it was all done, he yelled “Ta-da!” I helped him stand the bookshelf up and push it against the wall – and we just stood back and watched what we had accomplished. Micah then says, “Mommy, we did it! We built a bookshelf!”