Encouraging children to help with maintenance projects is a bonus for you, and equips them with skills
The long school holidays are nearly at an end, and with children heading back to school this week, parents may be breathing a sigh of relief.
For many there may also be sadness as they say goodbye to the quality time spent with their children, and they are already looking forward to weekends and holidays this year.
For those times, taking on simple and fun home maintenance projects is a great way to engage with them, says Debbie Reabow, brand and communications manager at the Rawson Property Group.
“Teaching our children simple DIY skills is a great way to get them to understand the importance of caring for their possessions. It also helps them become more practical, capable and self-sufficient adults.”
It is, however, important to tailor activities to their ages and levels, and use all possible safety precautions.
“With a little help, you may be surprised at how capable your little ones can be, and how much pride they’ll feel about being able to make a real difference around the house.”
Reabow’s suggestions for child-friendly home maintenance and improvement projects.
● In the garden
Make and lay stepping stones
Even the most well-cared-for lawns tend to get a bit shabby in areas of high traffic, where little footsteps wear pathways into the otherwise pristine grass.
Rather than spend hours trying to bring these worn spots back to life, Reabow suggests letting children get creative with personalised stepping stones to spruce up the area.
All that is needed is surgical gloves, quickset cement, a can of spray-and-cook, a tinfoil pie plate, and decorative stones or marbles.
“There are loads of tutorials online, but the basics steps are to spray-and-cook your pie plate, fill it with the premixed cement, pat it down and smooth it off, and then let your children lay their decorations in any pattern they like using gloves for protection.
“Let the stepping stones set at room temperature as per the instructions on the cement bag, and then turn them out, lay them down, and enjoy the look of joy on your children’s faces.”
● On the patio
Revamp outdoor furniture
Patio furniture takes a beating from sun, wind and rain and needs regular maintenance to stay in peak condition. While sanding and revarnishing or repainting woodwork isn’t the most exciting activity for adults, getting the children involved makes it more fun for everyone, Reabow says.
“Let your children get their hands dirty with sandpaper and elbow grease. It’s an energetic activity and they can see visible results from their hard work, which is always rewarding. Remember to give them hand and eye protection, and dust masks to keep them from breathing in harmful materials.”
She says it is a great idea to let children help choose the new finish or colour as this adds to their sense of ownership and involvement.
● In the kitchen
Defrost the freezer
“There’s nothing like playing with big chunks of ice to brighten up a child’s summer day, so why not kill two birds with one stone and get those chunks directly from your iced-up freezer?”
Although some modern freezers are frost-free, many older models need to defrost at least once a year.
Reabow says the easiest way to do this is to disconnect the freezer from the power, unpack everything into cooler boxes, and then whip out your hair-dryer to get that ice melting. Obviously you hang on to the hair-dryer.
“Most children love watching the ice melt and drip. Larger chunks that detach from the coils in one piece also make for great fun in the garden – just remember to keep a towel or two on the floor in front of the freezer to catch the run-off water.”
● In the bathroom
Clean or replace your tap aerators
Most taps have internal aerators to control water flow and minimise wastage, but these inevitably become clogged with small grains of sand and debris over time, Reabow says. Cleaning or replacing them is a simple matter, and a great way to introduce children to basic plumbing concepts.
“Let your child unscrew the aerator from the tap using a pair of pliers wrapped in tape to prevent scratching. Then show them how the filter fits inside the aerator head, and let them see the debris that has collected.
“Help them remove and rinse or replace the filter, wrap the connection with thread tape and then reattach the aerator to the tap.
“They will be fascinated by how everything fits together, and feel really proud when the water flows out smooth and clear again.”