F = Fix It First
How can you save money, improve your child’s self esteem, and help the environment?
Learn to “fix it first.” Many of the things we buy are meant to replace something that has been broken or outgrown. While you can’t prevent children from getting taller, you can extend the use of many items by learning to make minor repairs and yourself. Teaching your kids to make simple fixes can also empower them with a sense of accomplishment and resourcefulness. What kid doesn’t love tools and inventing? Especially if a tool belt might be involved? Your entire family can have fun, develop new skills and firmly establish a shared value to respect what you buy enough to keep it in good repair and in service as long as possible.
Using your own hands to fix things gives you a deeper connection to and appreciation for your belongings.
- Sew What! It can be frustrating when a child wears a hole in a knee of a pair of pants months before they outgrow the length or when one lost button can make a jacket, shirt or pair of pants un-wearable. Small tailoring fixes should be skills both boys and girls can master. Learn to patch a hole with a needle and thread or an iron-on patch. Fortunately, buttons are very inexpensive and can be attached in just a few minutes with a needle and thread. Many clothing items even come with a spare button attached to the tag or inside a hem. Round up your items in need of repair and have a family Sewing Bee!
- Tighten or replace a screw. If a toy or piece of furniture has moving parts, it’s easy for a screw to become loose and even stripped from repeated use. Teach your kids how to use a screwdriver for quick fixes. Most of these repairs are safe for even young children to make with eye protection.
- Fix a bike. Many bike repairs can be made by making sure all parts are cleaned and properly lubricated. Other fixes might require a few tools and understanding of how the bike works. Look for online videos that can walk you through diagnosing and solving your bike problems. Better yet, the cool thing about bike shops, skateboard shops are that they are guided by a can-do, fix-it attitude, so these hobbies are great to help children learn how to take responsibility for repairs. Classes are often available for very reasonable fees.
- Make a Fix-It Kit. Having the right tool at hand will encourage your family members to fix small problems themselves. Fill a tote with a small sewing kit, glue, Duct tape, scissors, sandpaper, measuring tape, small tools—just the basics. Then encourage your kids to put those resources to use when you notice a need.
- Find neighborhood repair shops. There is a reason Mr. Rogers always took his viewers with him to the mechanic shop or to watch Handyman Joe Negri work. Fixing things is fun! Make time to find experts for your broken items, and include your children in the process.
The book Stitch by Stitch provides great step-by-step instructions and starter projects for learning how to sew. You can also get tips for basic home maintenance at This Old House. The active community at Instructables has tutorials for fixing and making all sorts of things, and it a great place for inspiration for families who want to roll up their sleeves and get to work.