Being able to spend time with your children during their school holidays is incredibly special, but finding ways to keep them busy and entertained can be a challenge for any parent. This year, why not combine quality time with valuable life lessons by getting the whole family involved in some simple – and fun – home maintenance projects!
“Teaching our children simple DIY skills is a great way to get them to understand the importance of caring for their possessions, and also helps them become more practical, capable and self-sufficient adults,” says Debbie Reabow, Brand and Communications Manager at the Rawson Property Group.
“It’s obviously very important to tailor the activity to your child’s age group and skill level,” she says, “and use all possible safety precautions to protect them from any harm. That said, with a little help, you may be surprised at just how capable your little ones can be – and how much pride they’ll feel at being able to make a real difference around the house.”
Here are a few of her 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 your kids get creative with personalised stepping stones to spruce up the area.
“All you need is some surgical gloves, quickset cement, a can of spray-and-cook, a tin-foil pie plate, and any decorative stones or marbles you want to include,” says Reabow. “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 kids 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 your outdoor furniture
Patio furniture takes a beating under the 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 kids involved makes it a lot more fun for everyone!
“Let your children get their hands dirty with a little sandpaper and elbow-grease,” says Reabow. “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 any harmful materials in. It’s also a great idea to let them help pick out the new finish or colour – it really 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?
“Some freezers are frost-free, but those of us with older models need to de-ice things at least once a year,” says Reabow. “The easiest way to do this is to disconnect your freezer from the power, unpack everything into cooler boxes, and then whip out your hairdryer to get that ice melting!”
Most children love watching the ice melt and drip, and enjoy playing around with the hairdryer to create melty patterns. 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 runoff water.
In the bathroom
Clean or replace your tap aerators
Most taps have internal aerators to control water flow and minimise wastage, but these inevitable get clogged with small grains of sand and debris over time. Cleaning or replacing them is a simple matter, and a great way to introduce your kids to basic plumbing concepts.
“Let your child unscrew the aerator from the faucet using a pair of pliers wrapped in tape to prevent scratching,” suggests Reabow, “and 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 faucet. They’ll be fascinated by how everything fits together, and feel really proud when the water flows out smooth and clear again.”