5 Tips for Outdoor Chores with Toddlers

This time of year, everyone is ready to open the windows and doors and head outside to enjoy the fresh spring breeze and flowers!  As soon as a hint of warm weather is in the air, I start heading outside to sip my morning cup of coffee and evening glass of wine or hot tea.  The only problem is all the work that goes into recovering those lovely outdoor spaces from their winter breaks.  Porches, patios, decks and lawns are all in need of some serious TLC after winter weather and lack of use.

Tackling all of that work can be a really daunting task, especially if you have little ones underfoot.  I get most of my indoor chores done while my toddler is napping but can’t really go outside the house while he is sleeping, so the outside work has to be done with him by my side.  I do hire a guy to come by every two weeks to do the serious heavy lifting like grass, weeds and edging.  Even so, there is a lot of weekly maintenance involved with keeping up a lovely outdoor living area.

5 tips for outdoor chores with toddlers

These are a few simple tips that have helped me take care of the raking, sweeping, washing, planting and weeding required to create and maintain a clean and relaxing outdoor space to enjoy this spring and summer, even with a tiny wandering mess maker following me around!

yard work with little ones

1.  Invest in some tiny tools – He absolutely loves this rake that is just his size.  I keep it hanging on the wall beside mine, and he asks for it as soon as we walk outside every day.  I think it makes him feel really “big” to be able to do exactly what I am doing out there.

yard work

2.  Take them shopping – Going to the nursery or garden center has become one of his favorite activities!  He likes to look at all the plants, tools and garden ornaments.  It is also a great teaching opportunity since I am able to show him different plants and explain the process of taking something home, planting it, caring for it and watching it grow.

yard work with toddlers

3.  Give them ownership – Filling bags with sticks, straw and pine cones is one of my least favorite outdoor chores, but putting him in charge of carrying and holding the bag made him think it was the most awesome thing ever!

spring cleaning  yard work

4.  Get wet! – After all those cold winter months where the only water he saw was in the bathtub, this little man is all about any outdoor activity that involves splashing and spraying!  Cleaning outdoor furniture, watering plants and even washing windows all turned out to be loads of fun when I let him get soaked while we worked!

gardening with a toddler

5.  Set up a small station just for them – While I was doing some things that I really needed to just do myself, I set up a small planting station with pots, dirt and a kid sized shovel and just let him do whatever he wanted.  More dirt ended up on the deck than in the pot, but he had a blast while I finished the more adult chores.

I hope you are enjoying some lovely weather and outdoor time this month too!

Have a great weekend!

Family Photos

 

With only 7 weeks (give or take) left before our second little bundle of joy arrives, we have been getting very sentimental about our remaining time as a family of three.  Don’t get me wrong, we are all bursting with excitement to meet this new little miracle!  It is just that the past two years with this little man have been so incredibly sweet and special.  Splitting our energy and attention between two is just something that neither of us is really able to imagine at this point.

I guess the growth, change, struggle and fear are some of  the really important parts of the whole experience of parenthood though.  There are many things that I could never have imagined feeling before becoming a mother.  Loving someone so much your heart feels like it will explode, selfless moments where you honestly forget your own existence because you long so desperately for the well being of another, long term sleep deprivation and the paralyzing fear that takes over when your child’s safety is threatened are all things that have truly changed me.  The depth of gratitude that I have for the opportunity to experience them again with another little human being cannot be described, but I am also nervous to feel all of those things again and for a different child.  Will they be the same, as strong and powerful?  Will there be new and different ones?  Will we all survive?

In light of all of these thoughts and feelings (and hormones), I am so glad that we took the time to have some family photos taken during our last weeks as a family of three.  My friend, Sarah Thomas of Hopscotch Photography, took them when I was 20 weeks pregnant and our little man was 20 months old.  I know that I will always treasure these casual shots that captured our family as it was for a time.
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Now if I could ever get around to printing and framing a few of these!  With my track record, that might happen about the time that baby #2 goes to kindergarten.

DIY Nursery Mobile

I started working on the nursery a few months ago, but then I sort of stalled out and lost inspiration.  I wasn’t 100% which direction I wanted to go and really struggled with the “to theme or not the theme” question.  My normal decorating philosophy is to avoid themed rooms at all cost, but I feel like a nursery might be the one room to make an exception.  I ultimately decided to go with a “light” theme, mainly a color scheme but with woodland elements.  I did something similar with my first nursery and never grew tired of the soft colors and whimsical natural touches.

diy nursery mobile

I knew I wanted to recycle some things from our toddler’s nursery since I still loved them, but I did want to change things up a bit.  Originally this DIY mobile was attached to a much larger branch, had more critters on it and had darker strings.  (You can see that room in our first house tour.) It was the only thing hanging above or behind the crib the first time, but this time I knew I would be working with this chalkboard that is actually covering a door to the jack and jill bathroom. (You can read more about that here.)  Since the chalkboard would make a huge statement, I wanted the mobile to be a bit more subtle.

diy woodland nursery mobile

To make the dangling critters, I started with some plain wooden craft cutouts from Hobby Lobby.  They sell them individually for less than $1 each, and there are tons of subjects to choose from.  Using homemade modpodge (watered down elmer’s glue), I brushed some printed scrapbooking paper cut to fit the shape onto each piece of wood.  The front and back had to be covered since they move around.

diy nursery mobile wooden animals

Next I attached some burlap string from the Dollar Tree to each piece and cut them to the length I wanted.  Make sure they aren’t too long because you don’t want an older baby to be able to pull them down.

diy nursery mobile branch

I found a stick in my back yard and scrubbed it really well with soap, water and some light sandpaper.  This might have been overkill, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t bring any bugs into the room or have any little loose pieces of bark falling into the crib.  You can also buy a stick from the craft store if you want to be double sure that it is nice and clean.

To attach the critters to the stick, I simply looped each string around the stick several times and tied a knot at the top.  It is completely fine for it to look a bit messy.  I actually think that adds to the rustic look.  Attach two more strings to each end of the stick to hang the mobile on hooks from the ceiling.

DIY woodland themed nursery mobile

DIY nursery mobile over crib

This was a very simple project that adds a lot of personality to the little space!  I am very close to having the entire room pulled together now, and I am definitely glad I chose to go the themed route and incorporate all these fun little birds, bunnies and natural elements!