When it comes to household projects and DIY, the chances are you wait until the little ones aren’t around before you get started. When those little critters start snapping around your ankles and creating havoc, it’s hardly the best working conditions, right? Well, perhaps you are approaching this whole thing wrong and, in fact, you should be positively encouraging your kids to get involved instead. But why?
Well, in this guide, we’re going to go through a few of the reasons why you should get your children interested in DIY, and suggest a few things you can start doing with them as fun, family-based projects. If you want your little ones to grow up creatively, to be good with their hands, and know how to make something for nothing, read on – here’s everything you need to know!
The tangible benefits
OK, so first of all, let’s take you through why getting children involved with DIY is so important. There are a few central themes, here, so let’s break it down into some distinct categories of important life skills your little ones will learn: creativity, safety, the environment, and perseverance.
The more creative your child is when they are at a young age, the more likely they will be creative when they grow up. It’s really that simple, and some easy DIY jobs is one of the best places to start. Don’t forget, creativity is, essentially, about problem solving. And if you and your family are always looking at ways to solve problems – how to fix a chair, for example, or how to create a bookshelf from an old staircase – it could set them up for a lifetime of solving problems in any field, from medicine and engineering through to computers and technology.
We all understand that DIY can be dangerous, but it’s the whys, wheres, and hows that are important to understand. You can chat the theory of electrocution to kids all you like, but ultimately it’s a hard concept for them to grasp. However, let’s say you are making a big hole in the wall and fitting a fireplace. You will be able to show your kids all the wires that lie behind the walls, explain how it works with practical examples, and ensure they have a thorough understanding of this important home safety issue. Toolbox safety, the importance of taking your time and not rushing about the place like a lunatic, and the importance of being careful when working with chemicals – such as paint – are all valuable life lessons.
Making something from nothing, or transforming old objects into something completely different is a brilliant way of teaching your little ones about the importance of recycling, reusing, and the environment. It’s a hugely important lesson – and on that is increasing in importance almost every day. You’ll find that when kids realize they can reuse almost anything, they will be more likely to give things a try themselves. Whether it’s turning old plastic pop bottles into window boxes or building a DIY playset from old boxes, your kids will embrace environmental issues and have practical ideas on how to solve them!
Another important life lesson for all children to learn is to never give up. Life isn’t easy, and instilling a good work ethic into your kids at a young age is a great way to ensure they are capable of overcoming anything as they get older. And let’s be honest, some DIY projects are going to end in failure or disappointment, but giving your children that ability to keep trying until they get it right is a wonderful gift. As long as you keep things fun and know when to stop, you’ll find that their perseverance and determination starts to increase.
Of course, any DIY project is fraught with danger, and it’s vital you don’t allow your children to bite off more than they can chew. They will need constant supervision until they have reached an appropriate age, and it goes without saying that any electrical work, plumbing, or anything involving a sharp or dangerous implement should be avoided. The idea here isn’t to expose them to danger, it’s to get them involved in simple, fun, and manageable projects. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if your kids do respond positively to DIY, there’s good chance they will try some out when you’re not around. To avoid this, you have to lay down some pretty strict DIY rules, and make sure you keep your toolbox well out of reach. Toy tools and kids’ DIY boxes – and even LEGO or DUPLO sets – are a good thing to keep around, so that they can still build or create without damaging themselves or the house.
Painting and decorating
Now, let’s move on to the type of DIY projects you can do which include your kids. Painting and decorating is, perhaps, the easiest thing for them to handle – and you would be surprised at how young they will take to the task at hand. That said, make sure you are using chemical-free paints (and as a parent, I would hope you do this anyway!). Your kids can help you paint walls, use rollers, and if they are dexterous enough they can even help you apply painters tape to help you protect your borders. Painting is a lot of fun for kids, as it has an instant impact. And, as they get better, you can go on to teach them about the importance of undercoats, how to apply paint evenly, and a whole lot more besides.
Sticking, pasting and gluing
Your kids probably aren’t up to using a nail gun (as much as they would like to, no doubt) so consider things like sticking and gluing. There are some important safety issues with using adhesives, of course, but things like applying wallpaper paster or sticking cardboard together to create a mask or toy building will be fun for the little ones. As your children get older, you can start exposing them to the joys of tools like glue guns – but always have a safety conversation, first!
Pillows and cushions
Another simple project your kids will love to be involved with is making pillows or cushions. Bring them down to the fabric store with you and get them to choose a nice color or pattern. Then it’s just a case of ordering some foam cut to size and the right shape, and your kids can help you cut the fabric with scissors, stuff the cushion, and watch while you stitch it up. Cushion and pillow making is also a good opportunity to get them started with some basic sewing techniques. Just ensure they are wearing a thimble or two and guide their hands while they sew on buttons or velcro to seal up the pillow.
Photo and picture frames
There are plenty of craft projects that introduce DIY concepts to your kids – and there’s no doubt that photo or picture frames are one of the best.Head out with the kids and search around for sticks, twigs, or other appropriately shaped wood debris, and then it’s just a case of sticking it all together to make a brilliant frame. Old ceramic tiles are another option, as is discarded metal pieces. Not only will your kids be as proud as punch with their finished frame, but you’ll be teaching them another valuable lesson in how to reuse and recycle.
This lampshade idea is better for older children, as it can be a little tricky. That said, there is nothing stopping your kids from creating some incredible designs for the shade, and using prints or appropriate fabric paints to their liking – them you can do the fiddly bits. Plenty of home and craft stores are selling lampshade kits these days, and they are dirt cheap – you can easily afford to make a few mistakes.
Unique storage solutions
Struggling for storage and space in your kids room? Maybe they would be more likely to keep things tidy if they built their own, unique toy box from scratch? It’s a lot easier than you might think. Just grab some simple, cheap storage solutions from your local discount store, or perhaps even reuse old shoe boxes or containers you don’t need anymore. Then, it’s a simple case of covering int in whatever material your kids like the look of. You can create some stunning results with materials like hessian or burlap, and even some unused wallpaper could result in brilliant covering for your little one’s new storage box. And the best thing about it is they will – hopefully – start using it once it is finished!
As you can see, there are a huge range of DIY activities you can do with the kids. As long as you are sensible about what they can use – and when they can use it – it’s a great primer for basic household safety, too. Yes, there might be the odd minor accident, but when you consider all the amazing benefits of teaching your kids to DIY, surely it’s worth the risk?