The younger generation is leading a DIY revolution, with 57% dreaming of owning a home, but many unable to afford a brand new place. Instead, millennials entering the housing market are searching for properties with plenty of wear and tear that they can fix up into something greater.
However, not everyone has grown up fully equipped to deal with DIY tasks. In fact, 42% have injured themselves during DIY and 7% have injured someone else. It is important that anyone looking to gain from the incredible benefits of a DIY home is able to do it safely and to a high standard. Dreams of owning a home could be crushed if money is spent hiring a professional to repair botched attempts at handiwork.
Manual work is a skill like any other, which is best learned early and honed over many years. That’s not to say that you can’t learn to use a belt sander and build great wooden structures well into old age, but if you have children, they will really benefit from learning DIY skills as soon as possible. With more flexible brains, kids pick up new information quickly.
If you have knowledge of how to build and fix household items, then pass this onto your children to give them the best possible start to becoming homeowning adults.
Read on to find out the surprising benefits of teaching DIY to your children and how you can get started with showing them some tricks of the trade.
Preparing Your Child for Adult Life
The media likes to bash today’s young people for being too soft and reliant on technology, but there may be some statistics to back up the claim that children today are less prepared for adulthood than previous generations.
Just 55% of current high schoolers have employment, down from 76% in the 1970s. Only 73% of modern high schoolers have driving licenses, compared to 88% of the same age group in the 1970s. Although this should not be put down to laziness or softness, it is an indication of a generation underprepared for adult life.
Part of the reason may be due to a stagnating economy, but this is even more reason to teach DIY skills.
Your kids are entering a world that may be harder to survive in than it was in your day. They may struggle to afford a house or find a decent builder at a fair price. Teach your child to fix doors and repair leaking pipes and they’ll be fully prepared for whatever house they end up in.
Their college accommodation could be old and poorly maintained due to cuts in funding. If they have the skills to fix it themselves, you can rest assured that they are living comfortably and happily as they start their journey into adulthood.
Helping Kids to Live Frugally
Millennials are more likely to be unemployed and have more debt than their parents. Millennials are adults now, but their children are at risk of also being worse off than older generations.
One way to help to give them a way of living within their means is by teaching DIY skills. This can help to turn around the alarming decline in home ownership, which stands at barely 20% for millennials, compared to more than 30% for Generation X members at the same age.
By teaching home maintenance skills, you are reducing living costs in a couple of ways. Firstly, it reduces the need to hire a professional. Over a person’s lifetime, this could mean significant financial savings.
For instance, hiring a plumber will set you back an average of $80 an hour, whereas knowing a bit about pipes and doing the work yourself costs nothing. If you need a handyman to fill the cracks in the walls and assemble the bed, then you’ll quickly see your bank account drained.
Another way in which DIY skills can lead to a frugal lifestyle is due to house prices. Homes that need some love and care will be significantly cheaper than a home that is fully functional and equipped.
You may think that a home worth $300,000 when fully repaired which requires $100,000 worth of work will have a market value of $200,000, but it is not that simple. The time required for labor will mean that you could get a discount worth tens of thousands of dollars.
You can add the fact that the pool of potential customers is limited to those who have the DIY knowhow. This means that the seller will have to settle for a lower offer.
Building Up Skills
Employers value a diverse range of skills. They want employees who can do many different tasks. This is especially true as automation takes over mundane and repetitive work, with 800 million jobs expected to be taken over by robots by 2030.
If your child is in school, they are already building up the math, English and IT skills that companies value. However, these skills are mostly academic.
By teaching your son or daughter to sand a bit of wood, they are diversifying their skillset. This opens them up to a wider option of careers when they leave school, giving them a greater chance to succeed.
They don’t have to land a top carpenter internship for sanding to be a useful skill. It shows dedication to learning something new and reveals a character which values hard work and independence.
Paying for a professional carpenter may be easier, but won’t enhance your child’s employability in future.
How Early Should You Start?
Passing DIY skills onto your child improves their employability, lowers their living costs as an adult and prepares them for living on their own. However, when is it right to start bringing mending, fixing and building into their life?
Remember, DIY involves the use of tools and equipment, which can be dangerous. Be careful about how quickly you introduce these new work skills.
Having said that, it is never too early to introduce some aspects of DIY into your child’s life. From the moment they are born, babies are fascinated by how the world works. Give them almost any object and they will take it apart.
This kind of destructive play is actually vital for their personal development and could mark the start of a lifelong interest in DIY. Your role as a parent is to nurture this interest and to keep it alive as your child grows older.
By the time they reach college and move into a place of their own, they should have all the skills in older to keep their home running smoothly.
Giving your small child plastic saws and screwdrivers to play with can help to keep household tasks feeling fun and exciting. The last thing you want to do is put them off physical work or make it dull in any way.
Only introduce real tools to older children under close, direct supervision. Allow them to become comfortable with the tools by performing the simplest tasks until they can do it with ease.
At any age, you should let them watch what you do. Make sure they are wearing the appropriate safety equipment and keep them at a safe distance so that they can watch and learn from you.
If you are sanding, they should be kept well away from the machinery, while wearing safety goggles. However, you can talk them through what you are doing and ask them to observe how you keep your fingers out the way to prevent injury.
Then, when they are old enough, they will already have a sound knowledge of how to safely use the equipment to get the best results from a bit of wood.
Where to Begin
The great thing about children is that they have a long time to learn skills, so there is absolutely no need to rush.
Start with the simplest tasks, with your son or daughter playing the role of observer or helper. Even if it just means handing you the screwdriver. The best place to start is with whatever needs doing in your house. Assess the situation and determine the safest way to involve your children.
Got a leaky pipe that can wait until the weekend when the kids are home all day? This is something that they can safely observe you fixing.
If nothing is broken, then perhaps it is time to start a building project. Discuss it with your child and decide on a DIY task that can be completed over summer. Maybe they’d like to build a desktop computer or something similar that is relatively complicated but safe.
If your child is failing to become enthusiastic about a DIY job that needs doing, then maybe you just haven’t piqued their interest. Maybe they won’t build a computer because they are not interested in electronics.
However, it might be the case that they love painting and have a real eye for picking the best color combinations. Don’t give up your child and assume that they are not interested in manual labor. They just need something that excites them.
Exciting DIY Ideas
If you are ready to teach DIY to your kids and let them gain all the benefits discussed above, then you need to decide what tasks to do. Below are some fun and exciting projects that are guaranteed to infect your child with the DIY bug:
Build a chair: Chairs are fairly simple to build with little risk if something does go wrong. You can design something as simple as a flat piece of wood glued to four legs, come up with a plan for an intricately decorated rocking chair or anything in between. Chairs will usually require a child to saw, sand, nail and glue. These are skills can be applied to many other tasks, so it is a great place to start building foundational DIY skills. It can then be painted with their favorite colors and patterns to keep things light hearted and fun.
Build a swing: Keeping the fun in DIY is vital for maintaining your child’s interest. So where better to start than with a garden swing? Talk through the different placement options with your child, so that they can learn to identify which tree branches are strong enough and which are not. You may have to build the whole structure if there is no tree to hang a swing from. Once you have somewhere to hang it, decide if you want to use a tire or some sanded down and polished wood for the seat. There are really so many options, so be creative when designing your swing. Build this at the start of summer and your kids will have something to keep them occupied until the school term restarts.
Hang some pictures: At some point in your child’s life, they will have to put nails into a wall. Teach them to do this early, so that they know how to be careful. This will prevent the chance of them losing their rental deposit in future! Putting a nail in a wall seems simple enough, but it will teach your child about placement and measurement, as they ensure that they put the nail in the right place. They will also have their first taste of handling a sharp object in the form of a nail and a heavy object in the form of a hammer. Teach them to use these safely and they’ll be better prepared for more powerful tools, such as a belt sander.
The kids these days may seem to care more about smartphones than wood and nails, but DIY skills are more important than ever.
By teaching them to be good with their hands early on, you are setting them up for decreased living costs, increased employment opportunities and you are therefore fully preparing them for adulthood.
Put safety first, but keep tasks fun and exciting to inspire your child into becoming a pro at fixing and building around the house. Starting early means you can monitor that they have the technique right, allowing for safe and quality work when it’s really needed.