Ideas for better living and having fun around the house with your kids.

Let's face it, kids are full of energy. Whether they're running around the house, playing cops and robbers, or planning the perfect tea party, they're up to something at all times. Why not channel that boundless energy into a project that helps you? Believe it or not, they'll love the extra attention and gain confidence with every new skill they master.

Take John Dulin and his son Philip. Philip loves tools--he can't seem to get enough of working with his hands. Everything he wears, from garden gloves when he's ready to work in the yard to his "Bob the Builder" T-shirt, shows his love of construction. As John says, "Give him some nails and a few scraps of wood, and we'll have him entertained for hours."

All too often the chores adults have to do around the house get left until we're too tired and the kids are screaming in the background. With busy schedules only getting more hectic, time with our kids is at a premium. This year start new--start fresh. Plan projects with your kids. They probably can help more than you think. By soliciting the assistance of children with your chores and projects, you'll get help with something that needs to be done, and you'll free up time for other family activities.

Use your kids' interests as foundations to build a bond between you. It doesn't have to be woodworking or lawn care. Something as simple as cleaning up around the house or changing a light bulb can be made into a fun activity for all ages.

A Family Project
The Dulins wanted lawn chairs to sit in and enjoy the yard when pleasant weather arrives. Rather than buying a pair, John decided to direct some of Philip's energy into helping build a set. Philip was able to sand the pieces, help screw and nail them together, and assist in putting on the final coat of paint. John cut the lumber, assembled the frame, and primed the wood.

The immediate results were a great-looking pair of chairs that Philip is very proud of and a stronger bond between father and son. The long-term payoffs are twofold: Philip's confidence and creativity build as he sees a project he has helped complete, and he learns the importance and proper use of tools. Both skills he can use throughout his life.

Whether you plan a project that is geared toward the interests of a father and son, mother and daughter, or even grandparent and grandchild--it doesn't really matter. The point is to start this year off by thinking of fun and innovative ways to spend time together as a family.