Design, Home, Kid Projects, My Home

On Letting My Daughters “Help” Me…plus Master Bedroom Spring Decor Reveal!

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One of the most frequently asked questions I receive once people learn that I have four little daughters all 7 and under is, “How do you keep them from messing up all your decoration?”  And oh man…I GET IT.  I understand the reason of the question, and, while I don’t have the exact answers for every specific child, I can speak to what’s worked for our fam and these four offspring o’ ours.  While I certainly DO NOT have all the things figured out, this is one area I’ve had to spend some time and energy on getting sorted since part of my strange “job” of home decor social media involves projects and styling within our home…where we live….where four tiny humans inhabit…where messes and curious hands and spills happen.  So.  Here’s what has seemed to work for us thus far…

1. I try to let the kids help to give a sense of ownership!

Your kiddos might not even notice when you change up your decor or dream up a new project, but, in the chance that they do seem to take an interest in that and want to help (like my girls), find a way to let them help you!  This can be actual help, like fluffing pillows, choosing a vase for flowers or maybe dusting and cleaning an area pre-styling.  Or, as in the case of my youngest, this could be more like “help” in quotations: carrying non-breakables or give them small bits to rearrange next to you while you decorate.  Honestly, it doesn’t seem to really matter just how involved my daughters get in the project as long as they play a role.

Now, if you have a child who starts to show their creative side with an eye for design and colors and textures, by all means, listen!  One of my daughters especially seems to be interested in decorating and styling spaces (not surprisingly, this sweet girl also loves to express herself with clothes, deeming herself “so fashion!” when one of her outfit creations meets with her approval…๐Ÿ˜‰).  She recently heard me lamenting my mental block regarding bringing some spring pink into our master bedroom.  She thought for a minute before exclaiming that we should rummage the garage for any pink flowers we already owned and then stick them in each hoop above my bed!  While it wasn’t what I had originally planned, I had the mental awareness (miracles DO happen! ๐Ÿ˜‚) to catch that twinkle in her eye and that hopeful little-kid-waiting-for-parental-approval sweet demeanor, so you know what?  I scrapped my plans in favor of hers, and we spent a lovely afternoon just the two of us bringing spring to the master bedroom…together.  I’m not always precious and receptive and all the squishy feels when my kids ask to “help” me in what really is my day-to-day job, strange as that job may be.  But this time, I’m sure glad I was open to accepting her help and companionship.  ๐Ÿ’ž


2. If possible, give them a space to make their own!

Another way I’ve found that I can cut down on kiddos tearing up my home decor is to allow them a space that’s totally theirs to decorate (within reason, of course….)  In our previous home, that meant a small corner of our already small living room to set up a little kitchen and decorate around a table and chairs.  In this home, we decided to use the previous owner’s office space for a playroom for the four little women, and, while I make the big decisions like furniture and fixtures, I honestly let them have semi-free reign to make it their own!  On any given day, the couch will be adorned with different pillows procured from around the house, lined with stuffed animals in descending order, or draped with matching blankets and towels to make it “change colors.”  They cut out paper hearts for the window panes, they use rolls and rolls (and rolls and rolls…..) of tape to display their paintings and crayon creations on the walls, and they have a constant rotation of signage in the room indicating what purpose it currently serves (i.e. pet doctor, nail salon, kids gym, etc.)

Two Final Notes:

1. On kiddo boundaries…

Please know that I realize letting kids help with a random decor project doesn’t solve any and all possible behavior problems.  The unstated, unseen parts of our family dynamic are the continuous lessons of what constitutes a “no touch” from babyhood upward and the moments where they forget or choose to disobey.  This, in fact, DOES happen in my house (ha!), and when they break something, it’s a time to learn about repentance and how to make things right.  Big believer in teaching littles how to respect property and to accept and succeed in healthy boundaries, both at home and when we go into others’ homes.

AND!  This is just what’s worked for four kids (mine) out of all of the children in all of the universe!  ๐Ÿ˜‚ I’m not here to tell you how to parent your kids, because those types of writings give me the shivers.  ๐Ÿ˜‰  You know your kiddos, and you know what works best in your home!  This is just a glimpse into ours, and I love getting ideas, tips and tricks from my buddies on what works for them!

2.  We really do live here! 

Yes, we do LIVE here.  Like, messy house, crust on the counter, whiney attitudes, indoor tag while wearing super hero capes, dance parties in the kitchen, family movie night palettes on the floor, spilled juice in the hallway kind of “live here.”  Things get touched.  My house NEVER, I repeat NEVER looks like it does in my photos for more than a minute or two after snapping them.  I run a business here and on my Instagram, thus the photos posted will remain professional and styled…however…I love my kids and watching them BE KIDS so much more than I love keeping my house perfect and tidy and picture-worthy.

I will clean up a decorated space and snap a few pics from different angles to use for blog posts and company collaborations, but then…?  Then we LIVE.  That means decor gets mussed, pillows get strewn, socks get discarded, clutter happens.  Definitely don’t want to preach a message of “how to brainwash your kids into never touching your stuff,” ha!  But, if you do enjoy and find creative pleasure in decorating your home, sometimes with pieces or looks that don’t mix well with little hands, the above is how I try to make both things work within our home.  I value beauty and comfort and a welcoming home…but I treasure those crazy kids and their sticky hands even more. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There ya have it!  A little spring happy made it’s way into the master bedroom with the help and creativity of my daughter, memories made along the way.  I don’t do this mom thing right all the time, nor do I have all the answers, but hopefully this little sneaky peek into our personal lives might give you an idea to try in your own home!  Any other tips and tricks for involving the kiddos?  You know what I need to be better at doing….?  Letting them help in the kitchen.๐Ÿ˜ฉ  Oh man, the mess!  Sigh.  Maybe I should put to practice my own advice, huh?!?!  ๐Ÿ˜‰  Thanks for reading, buddies!  Happy decorating!


PS – Interested in recreating those hoop wreaths in your home?  Click [HERE] for the tutorial!

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  1. Chells says:

    Erin, this room is just AMAZE! Taking some inspiration from you as I redo my master bedroom. Thanks for being you + an awesome mommy to those four little beauties!

  2. Patti says:

    I loved this post so much! How sweet that sheโ€™s taking an interest in decorating, and the flowers look great on the hoop wreaths as well as the fireplace….
    Watching the kitchen dance parties with your little ones is so sweet and speaks to you he fact that you all โ€œliveโ€ in your home. ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒธ

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      We surely do, messes and all. Always trying to balance my love for a beautiful home with my love for these four crazy kiddos and letting them LIVE here!

  3. Sandee says:

    I think it’s so awesome that you include the girls so much and nurture their creativity too.
    My girls were always aloud to just be themselves and creative or not were apart of it all. Both grew to be very creative women.
    We are all 3 very different in our styles but we all 3 love each other’s style. ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ‘ญ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ
    Good job!

  4. Michelle says:

    Aw girl… your house and your girls are precious! My daughter is a sophomore in college BUT…. Iโ€™ve told her that imma need her to have four little girls like your one day when she settles down… they are so cute and remind me of tiny human kittens… haha… (my favorite things ever are my daughter and my two cats)… her response? โ€œUm… four is a lot…โ€ haha…๐Ÿ˜‚
    I so enjoy your blog and how diverse it is… you always keep it interesting! Thank you for all that you do for you buddies!

  5. Tess says:

    not only do I love your tips and tricks, but I just have to say, you are an incredible writer! I have a (small) blog and have read plenty, and you have a true gift! You should be so proud of what you have created <3

  6. Ann Marie says:

    Hi Erin ~ I am a firm believer in letting small folk help decorate! My daughter added “her touch” to most rooms, be it a picture she drew or a small item she picked….or more famously, our red bathroom wall…. She is a creative soul and I love her input, even now when she lives in Tennessee and adds her opinion via video chat!!

  7. Allyson Boop says:

    I love that you involve your girls… I completely agree that if they help they take more pride in it and donโ€™t want to mess it up! Iโ€™ve asked my oldest a few times to help me or for her opinion and sheโ€™s had a few good ideas herself. It so sweet that you have a decorator in the making, something special the two of you can do together โค๏ธ And yes letting the kids have a space that is all theirs is so important because well they live there too!! โ˜บ๏ธ Youโ€™re doing a great job mama and are such an inspiration to me in both home decor and motherhood!

  8. Marms says:

    Ice blue, textured walls with initialing. Twinkle lights. Wrist-rester pillow.
    Hot pink walls. Hanson posters. A million stuffed animals.
    Red, yellow, pink. Wall of family.
    These are a few of my favorite things!

  9. Candice says:

    Can you share a source for the floral quilt on the bed? Thanks!

  10. Jane Diethoen says:

    Great post! I do agree about training them to respect the good stuff. My sister in law taught that to me almost 40 years ago so when my girls came along I kept the pretty decor out. If things got broken no sweat. Not much did and our house was very lived in. Now my daughters have their own homes and do the same.

  11. Kara says:

    I love this, giving children the power to help and learn.

  12. Kathleen Grace says:

    Great thoughts on letting the kids help, your daughters idea with the pink flowers was so pretty! She is definitely following in your footsteps. You will never regret doing those projects with them and nurturing that decorating skill. Some day they will be all grown up and you will wish they were there to mess things up a little. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

  13. Carol says:

    I’m sure people will disagree, but I honestly think girls are less messy. I raised 2 sons and have 2 grandsons and it looks like a hurricane hit most days.

  14. Christy says:

    I love that you gave us a peek at life beyond the beautiful pictures you post. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE your pictures, and they are beyond inspiring! But I think it’s easy for me to forget that not everyone’s house looks like their instagram feed. What a great reminder that life inside the home is so much more important than having a picture perfect house, and that the little hands and feet that muss things are so much more precious than the things they muss.

  15. Ginger says:

    Can you tell me what did you do for your fireplace insert? I want to do mine in my bedroom!


  16. Kaylee says:

    I really enjoy your blog and instagram feed, love how real you are and you’re obviously an awesome mom as well. I looked through all your links to try and find a source for the wooden tray on your bed, which I’m DROOLING over. I’m assuming maybe it was a gift or something since you didn’t have a link to it, but if you do have a source to share, I would be so grateful. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ mama!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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