Before your little ones have even picked up their overalls, your top priority will be their safety. Children and decorating can mix perfectly to create some beautiful work and wonderful memories too, but it can be dangerous if it isn’t done safely. We’ll give you some top decorating safety tips throughout this guide to make the experience as carefree as can be!
The first thing to do is make sure that the paints you pick are child-friendly. Lots of common paints use harmful chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds (usually abbreviated to VOCs) and these can be dangerous for anyone to use, but even more so for little ones. VOCs can affect the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, and some have the potential to cause cancers. Being exposed to VOCs can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, dizziness, and breathing problems. Existing allergies and asthma can be worsened by breathing in the chemicals, too. Thankfully, paints such as Auro, Earthborn, and Farrow & Ball contain very low to absolutely no VOCs at all, so they’re perfectly safe to use by all the family. You’ll notice when you open them that they don’t have that typical ‘paint’ smell which is caused by all of the chemicals you’d best avoid.
Sometimes there is a fine line between unrestricted creativity and ending up living inside one big finger-painting. If your children are very young, or you just don’t trust them with the living walls yet, then pick one room for them to play with. Their bedrooms might be a good start, and there are plenty of good reasons to let them have a hand in decorating their own rooms: it will stimulate their creativity and give them a sense of responsibility, it will inspire them to have pride in their room (and hopefully keep it tidy!) and it will make them feel valued and trusted by the grown-ups around them. A bedroom also poses far fewer threats than other parts of the house. There are no slippery floors, hard worktop edges, fireplaces, complicated electrical goods, or cooking equipment to get in the way of the fun. You might have to compromise on colour, bearing in mind how you choose paint colours as well as how your children want to express themselves.
Think of this exercise as a kind of controlled freedom. Just like always, you’ll want to let your children play but just keep an unobtrusively watchful eye over them at all times. You can never be sure that your child’s creative urges won’t tell them to tip a tin of paint across the floor, to pick it up only to drop it on their toes, or cover the window up in blue to give the room more of a den-like feel. Dens can, and probably will, be constructed later on using blankets and bed-posts instead of double glazing and paintbrushes.
Little children are still learning to use their hands, and getting the details right can sometimes be a bit tricky. This can lead to frustration, tantrums, and uncooperative sulking in the worst cases. To make things simpler and easier to handle, why not suggest that you paint the tricky bits around the edges and that they concentrate on the bigger, more important patches of the wall? They’ll relish having their own task to complete, and you can take all the blame for spoiling the skirting boards. An added bonus is that they won’t have to work around the sockets, which could be dangerous.
So much of our time is now spent doing things alone that it’s great to find a reason to spend some of it together as a family without smartphones, work, school, or cartoons getting in the way. Decorating is a job made up of lots of mini-jobs, so getting a bit of a production line going and having everyone rely on everyone else will make the experience more about the whole family than each person’s individual tasks. Working this way means you can also give the safest, most appropriate jobs to the children whilst you do the boring, heavy, and tricky bits you’d rather they stayed away from.