Do It Together: 5 Home Projects for You and Your Household Helpers
While the kids are out of school, the adults are doing everything they can to keep their little ones safe and healthy at home — and find creative ways to alleviate the boredom and frustration they may be feeling after weeks away from their school friends or grandparents.
With just a few materials you can order online (or pick up curbside at the home improvement store) and some tools you likely have lying around the house, you can keep those little hands busy while giving your house some TLC.
Here are five DIY projects to improve your home and give your kids a productive outlet for their energy.
Build raised garden beds
It seems like everyone is jumping on the gardening bandwagon and creating “victory” COVID-19 gardens. A garden not only gives you the benefit of fresh herbs, vegetables or flowers, it’s also a natural outdoor classroom for your kids — helping them learn measurements, basic botany facts and giving them a boost to their mental and physical well-being.
Raised garden beds help plants thrive because they’re easier to maintain, and they are a fairly easy project for children to assist with. To make a 4×4 raised garden bed, all you need are the following:
- Eight untreated 2x4s that are 4 feet long
- Four untreated 12-inch 4×4 corner posts
- A box of 4-inch wood screws
- A drill
To construct the rectangular box, attach two 2x4s to each corner post (stacking them vertically). Have your older child hold the boards securely in place as you drill. When you’re finished building your structure, kids of all ages can assist you with picking out a sunny spot in the backyard for your raised garden bed and help you pour in the soil and plant your veggies or flowers.
Give your mailbox a makeover
Brighten up your humdrum mailbox and give your heroic postal worker something to smile about when they deliver your mail. This project is best suited for those kids who can comfortably wear a face mask and use a spray paint can responsibly. To give your mailbox a facelift, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Medium-grit sandpaper
- Protective masks*
- Painters tape
- Aluminum primer
- Metal paint spray paint in a vibrant color
Tag team sanding off rust and old paint on your mailbox while wearing protective masks. Then, have your child assist you with placing painters tape over any address numbers or the mail flag to protect them from being painted. Spray primer and allow it to dry before applying the metal spray paint. To customize your mailbox and make it stand out, use stencils to create flowers, letters, or let your mini Van Gogh freehand different designs.
* If you don’t already have masks on hand, consider waiting on this project until masks and other personal protective equipment are more readily available. Or, if you’re purchasing a new mailbox, you can do this project entirely freehand, no mask required.
Construct a birdhouse
Though birds aren’t required to shelter in place, it’s nice for them to have a safe spot to land in your backyard — and exciting for the whole family to watch as they come and go. You can either construct a birdhouse using a pre-cut birdhouse kit (available to order online at most home improvement stores) or you can make the cuts yourself on a 2×6 or even a spare fence post. Have older kids help you nail or wood glue it together and have little ones personalize it with paint to give the birds in your backyard a truly unique home to call their own.
Or, if you want to give your neighborhood squirrels a place to kick back, you can repurpose almost any kind of wood to make an adorable miniature picnic table.
Stencil paint your tile floor
Want to give your tile floor a new look but don’t want to invest the money, time or intensive labor it takes to rip up and lay down a new one? While this project requires patience and attention to detail, your children can pitch in and help out to make it go a little faster. Here’s what you’ll need for this tile stenciling project:
- Fine-grit sandpaper
- Painters tape
- Semi- or high-gloss latex paint in both a base color and a design color
- A chosen stencil (create your own or look up one that you like online)
- Foam roller
Begin your project with a deep cleaning of your bathroom floors (and cue the complaints from your kids). Once your floors are squeaky clean, tag team a floor sanding with your kids to help the tiles take paint. Then, tape the perimeter of the room, underneath your vanity cabinet and around your toilet.
Apply primer to the floors and let them dry. Then, paint your base color. Once these coats have dried, you’re now ready for your stenciling. Have your kid help you tape the stencil in place and then paint your design color onto the floor. If your older kids have a steady hand, using two stencils will speed the process along and reveal a beautifully designed floor even quicker. This example can help you visualize a finished product.
Restyle your bathroom drawer pulls
You’d be surprised at how much of a design impact changing the drawer pulls on a bathroom vanity can have. This inexpensive DIY project is quick to complete and perfect for little hands who can help you hold the hardware while you handle the screwdriver.
All you need for this project are new drawer pulls or knobs (have your child assist you with the measurements to see what size you need) and a screwdriver. Remove the old drawer pulls and have your kid at the ready to put all of the old pieces in a single pile and hand you the screws and the new drawer pulls as you need them.
Feeling more ambitious? Change out the hardware on your kitchen cabinets for an easy upgrade. Or do this project on a small scale and swap out the handles or knobs on an old dresser to give it a new style.