Sunday, November 15, 2009


I’ve been doing still more hammering and sawing preparing for baby number two’s imminent arrival (which makes me sound far more adept at using tools than I really am.)

This morning I was putting up some more shelves in the guest room closet when my son came into the room wanting to play.

My first instinct was to do the, “Just a minute, I’ve got to finish something first” routine. I realized that I was going to be saying, “Hold on a minute” about fifty times before I could stop and play, so I just told him to go and get his tools.

Within minutes, we were both hammering and drilling away, fixing up the closet. I would ask him to measure something for me (he loves tape measures) or to mark some lines where I would need to cut the wood. He would shout out things like, “It's forty seven, dad” and I would thank him for his help.

As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t take many instances of a father saying, “Not right now, I have to get this done” before a child feels like they are second fiddle. Now this is not saying that you should drop everything every time your child wants you—learning patience is a valuable lesson—but if you can engage them while you are doing your important work, isn’t that so much the better?

Next time they want your attention and you are in the middle of important work you can’t put down, try to find a way to include your child. Drawing plans? Get them to draw some, too. Writing a report? Get them to sit with you and write a story—or just squiggle some lines depending on the age.

It won’t work every time, but when it does it will make your child feel valued and wanted. It will also strengthen your sense of togetherness.


  1. I just finished 5 years in the Navy and am now a SAHD while I use the new GI Bill. I like your advice on involving your child in your work. I think it would have been a hard lesson learned if I had not read your post. I have a 6 month old boy. I found that I would wait for him to nap before I would try to get anything done around the house. Not much got done because I would rather use the hour or two to take a break. Now I set him in the middle of my projects and try to entertain him with what I am doing. It does take 3 times longer to get anything done, but the day passes better and I actually end up accomplishing more.

  2. Great job! (and thanks for the comment)

    Involving your boy will become easier as he gets older, too. When he can swing his Fisher Price Hammer next to yours, or when he can color while you write, your "work" time will become more and more productive. Good luck!

  3. Great tip! Very true! It's amazing how engaged kids become when you just simply ask to help. And knowing this now will make it so much easier when your baby is born, "Can you go grab the diapers for me?"

    Just posted about parenting myself at:

  4. My son loves to use a tape measure as well. The last project we were working on, I asked him to measure a board for me. When I asked him how long it was, he said "It's six-thirty o'clock, dad."