On the surface, the above question seems to have an obvious answer. Many a parenting guide will tell you that it’s a good idea to involve your kids in your hobbies; to teach them how to be self-sufficient when they fly the nest. So, it would follow, of course you should DIY with your children – it almost goes without saying, doesn’t it?
The problem with DIY is that it is the haven of the enthusiastic amateur. The enthusiasm part there is great; no one is going to argue it’s not beneficial to be able to do things for yourself rather than having to call in experienced workmen every single time. However, the amateur part is the problem.
Of course, it’s possible to become incredibly proficient at DIY. You learn over time, developing your skills, improving your home. It might even be something you have toyed with the idea of making into more than a hobby, if you have shown a particular aptitude for it.
This, however, is the exception that proves the rule. Most DIY involves an element of risk, especially when you start venturing into the realm of power tools and construction projects. The occasional easy welding project might sound easy to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s the kind of thing you should be sharing with your kids. At least, not unless you have taken suitable precautions at every step along the way.
Nevertheless, the fact that sharing your life and helping your kids become self-sufficient in the future is beneficial – well, that’s undeniably true. Rather than just plowing in and hoping they will pick it up along with you, there are ways and means to ensure sharing your DIY life with your kids is done in the right way. Here are some ideas to get you going.
#1 – Always Preach Safety, Above All Else
Is this going to get boring? Probably.
Do you still have to do it? Absolutely.
If you just want to dive into a task, convincing yourself to take a moment to go through safety precautions and warnings is going to feel like an inconvenience. However, your kids are looking up to you for the guidance they so desperately need – so they need to see that you’re taking safety seriously. It’s the only way you can guarantee they will have the same approach.
Prior to kicking off any DIY session, go through the tools that you will be using (power tools or not – any implement you intend to use should be included). Talk about the ways it could cause harm, what you’re going to do to prevent that harm, and the correct behaviors and usage. After a few sessions of this, rather than being the teacher, you can quiz your kids and ask them to explain the same things to you – that way, you know the lessons are being learned.
Finally, make sure both you and your kids have an overview of proper first aid procedures in the event that something goes wrong.
#2 – Always Start Small
Even with the proper prior consultation, you want to keep things simple if you’re introducing your children to this world for the first time. Don’t dive into a huge carpentry project; start with something smaller, like helping to repaint the kitchen or hanging pictures.
What you’re trying to do here is as much about showing them the process behind home maintenance as you are the project itself. This is about outlining the way a project progresses, from the conception through to the finish. It’s one thing for them to know how to organize themselves, or how something might go – it’s quite another to see it happen in front of their eyes.
A great place to start with this is with a project that will benefit them personally, such as hanging pictures for their bedroom. Not only do they get to learn as you go through the process, but they then have a visual reminder of what they have learned.
#3 – Consider Smaller Tools
Be it paintbrushes or a hammer, the simple fact is that smaller hands will need smaller tools. This will help them become accustomed to handling these objects, especially when it comes to fine and detailed work.
Buying a whole new set of tools just for the sake of your kids might seem an investment too far, but it’s actually a practical decision. If they try to use something that’s too big for them to the point it impairs their ability to do what they want it to, then you’re going to turn them off the idea of DIY for life. And while it will always be nice to hear from them, in 20 years time, you don’t want to be being called around to their own house for the most basic maintenance jobs!
#4 – Some Things Are Always Off Limits
Even with all the right precautions, the right safety briefings, the right tools – some aspects of home maintenance should always be banned.
At the top of the “No” list is the most obvious danger in your home: electricity. Even if it’s something basic like changing an outlet, don’t do it with your kids. They should see outlets as something to be respected and kept away from; anything else could be a recipe for disaster. If it’s electrical, save it for your own time.
The same goes for plumbing, specifically anything outside of fixing a basic pipe leak. If it’s a simple water pipe, that is – stay away from gas pipes at all costs. By all means, give them a safety briefing about these things, but don’t encourage them to get involved. If you do, they may become overconfident and be more likely to injure themselves in future.
It’s also worth noting that keeping your tools locked away when not in use is an essential. You want them to become accustomed to using and seeing these items, but only with your supervision at all times. Lock your storage and keep the key on your person; you can never be too safe!