Boat Building with the Kids

goofingoffKids and boat building can go together. My kids have been involved since the start.  It’s great.  You get to hang out with the kids, Mom gets to relax, the monkeys get to be impressed by their dad. And they learn useful skills for later in life.  When I’m old and lazy, it would be nice to have some teens who can fix a broken whatever at a moment’s notice.

One word about working with your kids: SAFETY.

That picture you see freaked out my mother-in-law.  Maybe she thought her grandson was about to screw his tongue to the roof of his mouth …  Not quite!  The power drill battery was dead.  I made sure about that. Kids are more nimble than you think.  They find amazingly creative ways to cause havoc.  Before you set the kids anywhere near your tools, make sure you know where all of your tools are.  Know which tools to keep out of reach, and never let your kids out of your sight.

When you know you’ve done all you can to keep the munchkins safe, then the fun begins.  Kids can “help” at any age.  For example, I completed the plans to Rowan Zwischen den Wolken on a sunny day on a blanket while watching my son, Rowan.  He was maybe six months old.

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My older son, Grant, can work a power drill, so sometimes he performs useful tasks.

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Be careful about trusting kids with too much responsibility.  A second after this photo was taken, Grant efficiently poked a large hole in the side of the boat.

If you aren’t ready to give your kids actual work, it’s easy to make them think they are being useful.  This keeps them out of trouble and allows you to work.  I also found that, when they feel useful, they are more interested in your fatherly boat building wisdom.  Below is the younger version of Grant working on a different boat.  He is happily and harmlessly banging away at the hull with a plastic hammer.

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Working with one kid at a time is easier than two.  Siblings egg each other on.  You have twice the chaos to track, as well.  Two kids also enable a great brother bonding experience.

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One kid, or two; don’t expect to get much done.  Safety must be priority one, followed by the kids’ entertainment, followed by protecting your craft work from toddler terror.  But you make a little progress, which is better than no progress at all.  And you teach your kids useful lessons in tool handling and safety; lessons that come in handy later in life.

A few more thoughts.  Don’t force your kids into boat building.  Every kid is different.  Some don’t care.  If your kids have no interest, let boat building be your thing. Making them work on the boat, or making them hang out near the boat when they don’t want, will backfire.

Finally, raising kids is time consuming.  Take time for yourself, too. Give yourself a defined chunk of minutes or hours that you control. If you want to build a boat, having kids doesn’t have to be an obstacle.   I believe taking time for yourself makes you a better father and better spouse.

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