little “helper”

Now that the holidays have passed, it’s back to “real life” around here.  For our family, that means homework, kids being shuffled back and forth between homes, and daddy traveling.  Ella has had a hard time adjusting having spent tw weeks with nearly everyone (all 6 of us!) in the house at all times.  She has also cut 4 new teeth, including a molar, and has been very needy.  By very, I mean that I am holding her almost all day.  She cries when I put her down (even to get dressed) and generally refuses any activity that encourages her to be more than a foot away from her (like cooking breakfast, or even throwing the ball!) I know it’s a phase, and her way of dealing with change, so I do my best to get on the floor and see daily life with her eyes.

My day becomes easier each time I find a way to involve Ella in my tasks, rather than try to accomplish things while she’s (not) sleeping or by distracting her with an irrelevant parallel activity.  I don’t know if I have started to figure this out beacuse I’m an older parent this time, from having older children, and being used to having help, or if being at home with Ella makes me more sensitiveto her needs and wants.  When I attempt to distract Ella (or employ my mother or other children to attempt this) she gives a gentle “noooo” and insists on becoming involved in whatever I’m doing.  Sometimes it is clearly not possible or practical to include her in the actual task, but there are so many auxiliary actions she can participate in, even at 15 months old!

Today, for example I needed to build my third and final shelf for fabric in my sewing room.  My mother was here, so she agreed to keep Ella away so that I could build the bookcase.  I was using a drill and a hammer and screws, so I didn’t want her near me, especially when it came time to set up the shelves and square them (she loves to climb), but she naturally had other plans.  She was not interested in being in another room, even though she could see me, and was weepy.  Clearly we had to devise a plan to involve her, or my sewing room would never be finished! (It still may not be…but that is a story for another time.)  My mother called our process the “Bucket Brigade.”  I set up the wooden pieces on the floor, and my mother would hand Ella the attachment I needed (one at a time for maximum activity and minimum waiting for little e) and she would bring it to me  and say “hi” in that sweet little voice.  Once I accepted the part, she’d wait for a “thank you” to move back to my mom.  We spent an hour building a 20 minute bookshelf, but Ella was happy, Grandma was happy, and I was happy the entire time. 

What had the potential to become a stressful and frustrating experience was entertaining for the adults and satisfying for little Ella.  She can add construction to her ever-growing list of accomplishments.  Daily we do dishes, laundry, and floor cleaning together.

If only I could find a way to involve her somehow in my sewing or pattern tracing I’d be in craft heaven.  Alas, I’m at a loss.  If anyone has suggestions to involve a one year old in the sewing room, I’m all ears!


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