Is your free-spirited child feeling lonely during this worldwide lockdown as they are missing their play dates and their peers? And, as a parent, you feel like you have not got a moment alone for ages? Why not make these moments enjoyable? Here are four fun ideas for home repairs to do with your kids to keep them engaged as they miss their routine:
Toolbox to the rescue
It’s never too early to sharpen their DIY skills. They’re already using scissors and glue in school. So stack it in their tool kit. Put in a few bolts, nuts, tacks, screws, wing nuts, nails, washers, pliers, hammer and a screwdriver.
Help them recognise what each tool is used for. Begin with the basics. Show them to pull off the cabinet knobs and drawer pulls with a screwdriver. Allow them to loosen it and tighten it back. That’s the way they will be practising. The easiest way to remember which direction tightens and which one loosens is the old axiom “righty-tighty and lefty-loosey.” Say it along with them and hear them chuckle.
Remember, you have not given them just a tool kit. You’ve given them the confidence and your trust to fix, create and build. Watch their faces gleam with pride.
Fix creaky doors
The first thing to do is to recognise the source. Locating the noise maker will be fun. Open and close the door and have your child locate the noisy hinge. See that your child’s fingers are off the hinge to avoid their fingers getting jammed. Help him or her apply lubricating oil on the door hinge. You may use olive oil, butter, paraffin candles, petroleum jelly or just a bar of soap. Make sure you have a drop cloth handy to avoid a sticky mess. Now that your squeaky door is silenced, you’ll no longer be prevented from raiding your kitchen post-midnight, tip-toed! If at all it squeaks again, you will be surprised to see your watchful little one fix it immediately before you even think of doing it yourself!
You know it’s time to clean out the faucet aerator when the faucet loses pressure or starts spraying water to the side. Children are inquisitive and love to know what’s under the sink or inside a pipe. They love water too. This is the best and the most basic bathroom repair project for them. Show your kid to clean the dirty inlet screen or aerator. Supervise them as they grab a pair of pliers from their tool kit, an old cloth and a bowl of vinegar for soaking the screen. Turn off the water at the faucet and use pliers to loosen the nut that holds the sprayer to the flexible hose. As soon as you remove the sprayer, watch your kid squeal with delight! Hold the tube facing down into the sink to avoid the short soaking process. Do not forget to tell them that water is precious, the faucet was leaking and hence it needed to be mended. They will get a bonus lesson on conserving water.
Drudge through the burden of teaching your kids to clean? Well, this will be the most rewarding task. Allot different days for different rooms to be cleaned. If you have two or more kids, this will avoid fights. They will even look forward to the time slots.
Let them pick up all the toys that are scattered on the ground first. Once the vacuum cleaning is done, help them repair the clog in the vacuum cleaner. They can then wind the cord, put the tools back and properly store the vacuum back where it belongs. That’s a great way to prepare them for adulthood as well as keep them engaged during this lockdown. Just for a little practice, spread some powder on the carpet.
Tell them that it needs to be cleaned. Your responsible kid will pull out the vacuum cleaner from the right place, use the right tool and clean it all up.
Even if they are not able to do it all by themselves they have surely tried, remember we are not looking for perfection. Do give them a star for their responsible behaviour. As a kid, I would be excited to accompany my dad to wash his bike and help my mom grease the sewing machine gears.
What could be a better time than now to give them a head start yourself during this worldwide lockdown! Lead by example and watch your children follow your lead.
Teach them life skills and they will always thank you. Let the best parent-child interactions revolve around discussing why it’s important to repair what you already have, rather than replacing it.
(The author is a parenting expert)