Let them be helpful!

“Let them be little.” Isn’t that the most wonderful saying? I was born 30. I swear it. Long, too-personal story, but in a nutshell: I didn’t have much of a childhood. Because of that, I’m constantly trying to let my kids be little. Oh what a delicate line that is.

I don’t want them to grow up thinking they’re entitled and I don’t want them to be lazy and I don’t want them to not know how to wash a load of laundry or make a meal (yes, even though they’re boys!), but neither do I want them to be saddled with that responsibility as children. And I for sure don’t want them worrying about money, but neither do I want them to be clueless about the value of a dollar. This parenting thing is hard, y’all.

One thing that I don’t have to walk a delicate line over is their helpfulness. This isn’t a parenting blog and I’m not an expert on mothering, but I do feel like I’ve got one thing figured out: kids have a natural desire to be helpful. Up to a certain age. Then they turn a corner and decide that being enthusiastic about helping is dumb and being totally self-absorbed is way cooler.

It’s pretty easy at this age to foster their desire to help and therefore (hopefully) create a servant’s heart for life. Problem is, it’s even easier to squelch their desire to help. Don’t be a control freak. Just don’t!

What the crap does any of that have to do with this blog? Well, I have a kid right at the turning point. He’s about to be five and I’ve already seen a decrease in his natural desire to help. Maybe you’ve noticed also? He’s not in nearly as many posts as he was a year ago, and that’s because he doesn’t run to help every time anymore. I won’t lie. Sometimes that makes me happy…in the short run. Kids’ help isn’t usually all that helpful. But it makes me sad in the whole long-term scheme of things. They just don’t stay little forever. Capitalize on the moments!

All that to say…when ANY of my kids ask/offer to help, I will make up ways for them to help if I have to. I NEVER refuse their offer of help. Ever. I might tell them they can help “in a minute” if I’m right in the middle of something that they really could destroy (or get hurt doing), but I make sure and come up with something quickly. They won’t wait around forever. Video games will call them away in a heartbeat.

We had a beautiful February day and I was setting up my paint station in the driveway while the four-year old worked those little legs hard to ride his bike up and down the hill. And then he asked to help. Ugh. I just wanted to hurry up and be finished so we could maybe go to the park or something fun later. Of course I said yes. And then I got choked up realizing that it had been a while since he had asked to help with anything. I thought, “Oh no! He’s at the turning point!”

I gave him a paint brush and his own door to paint. Oh, by the way, these are the doors to the cabinet over the toilet in the guest bathroom.

guest bath

Not horrible. But not my favorite color of wood. You guys know I’m not a wood purist, but I did throw around the idea of staining this darker rather than painting. But when we found a super cheap vanity, it was an easy decision to tie them together with paint.

It has exposed hinges, which aren’t my favorite, but it’s not worth ripping out this perfectly good cabinet.

exposed hinge

I bought black hinges so that they would disappear on the black cabinet. You could try spray painting old hinges to match, but that almost never works. It’ll rub off in the middle.

black hinge

I used pre-tinted premium enamel.

premium enamel

If I was doing a larger space and needed to buy an entire gallon, I would have gone with the mildew-resistant enamel (it’s super hard and great for cabinets). But, I only needed a small amount of paint and have used this on cabinets before with great success. I already had this can, so it was an easy decision.

cale paint door painting door

My helper made a horrible, bumpy, globby mess of his cabinet door, but I praised him and thanked him for his help. I let it dry and sanded it all down while he was off playing with his brothers and the neighbors. Don’t ever fix their work while they’re watching. Duh.

I forgot to say, if your cabinets are in good shape, you can avoid sanding before painting. You could just wipe them down and then use a good oil-based primer. I didn’t want to mess with oil, so I used a deglosser. There are deglossers on the market, but many other things will work. I used mineral spirits this time because I already had it.

mineral spirits

It is not orderless! I don’t even know how they’re able to put that on the bottle. This stuff stinks like all acetone/paint thinner/etc. You just rub it all over the surface and then wipe in down with a dry rag or paper towel.

I applied a couple of thin coats of paint instead of one thick coat. It dries faster that way, and the grain still shows through a little bit. I think they turned out great! I love that satiny black finish.

black cabinet

As previously promised, I’ll be back later this week to show you the wall treatment.