I have been stewing about this for several months now and figured I had better ink it and ease the pain.
For the past few months I have been going non-stop with DIY projects in the house and around the property. My husband works full-time and I am currently the stay-at-home parent elect, following my husband’s 4-year stint of being the one at home. I take my “job” very seriously & feel a sense of duty to ensure I take care of almost everything home-related Monday-Friday (weekends are another story, because it’s my weekend too!). Whether it’s building a boot rack, sketching out plans for a mudroom, renovating the kitchen, or tearing down the old shed, I find a way to git ‘er done. Now, on to what has got me more crazy than a badger in a rain barrel: the lack of women who feel they are capable of DIY projects. In my search for DIY ideas and instructions I have found few, if any, women who actually DIY from start to finish. What gives?! Like the blog of the DIY Diva, who is actually just a Diva who shops, paints and gets her husband to do the real DIY work…. Grrrrr, badger moment.
It’s really not that hard…. Really…. I mean it, really! Now, I do have to say I was fortunate to grow up with a father who worked in construction & taught me to be self-sufficient with vehicle maintenance and woodworking. Along with a mother who was fiercely independent because, said father, was bi-polar and unreliable. However, I am not that gifted when it comes to doing home projects. I know how to use the tools and basic safety, but I’m impatient and I rarely take the time to measure and being a visual learner when it comes to making sense of written instructions or trying to come up with a plan on my own, I pretty much stink at it. But I try, and I learn, and I eventually succeed.
I recently came across the blog of an incredibly gifted & rockin’ chick, Laura, that features used pallets made into furniture:
Mylanta! my life will never be the same! I have been collecting pallets, breaking them down and building everything from boot racks to side tables to desks since then. Every piece of scrap wood I spy has visions of DIY projects dancing in my head. The pallets are free, the tools needed are basic and the difficulty level is easy. Yet when I show the finished projects to women I know they state emphatically “Oh, I could never do that. I’ll have to get my husband to make that for me.” Insert gag reflex here. I have the greatest husband ever, but I still love my independence. And I think he likes it too!
A few of my projects from last month: fire pit patio from discarded paving stones & side table from pallet scraps ($0), boot rack from a pallet & scrap wood ($2 for wood screws), refinished hutch ($75 for hutch, $5 for used paint), refinished hideous gold brass light fixture above kitchen table, now a nice antique bronze ($5 Rustoleum paint), the bricks we dug up and a spare pallet eagerly awaiting the next project, and homemade donuts and pasta, because I pride myself in being a well-rounded housewife! Lol)
Just to be devil’s advocate I admit I used to be too independent. I wouldn’t ask for help if my life depended on it. Now moderation is what I try to aim for. One of the greatest women I’ve ever known, Janet Hart, changed my stubbornly self-sufficient ways. She is a legend in high-end hotels and I was lucky enough to have her as my boss. She was fierce as all hell at work – I witnessed grown men running from the pint-sized red-head on a daily basis. But at home she was satisfied with deferring to her husband. Her advice was this “Be able to do everything yourself, but if you have a man who is willing to do it for you, let him. The key being “be able to do it yourself”. I have yet to witness many who are willing & able to get their hands dirty & enter the amazing world of DIY.
In all fairness, this can also be said for many men who also believe DIY projects involve using the yellow pages to find someone to put together the playhouse just purchased from Costco & who support the local bakery rather than rolling up their sleeves and baking with the kids. Have we totally lost the pride in passing things onto our children that we have made with our own hands? How wonderful is it to have a child cherish & pass down what was made imperfectly with oodles of love. And our kids deserve the role models who lead by example & don’t just tell them they can be anything they want to be. Like my beautiful daughter who looks like a model and is going to school to be a heavy-duty mechanic. She fights stigma every day from nay-Sayers who are stunned into silence when they see her at work on a Kenworth truck. And my son who enjoys baking in his free time & ignores the “gay” comments made by kids who don’t seem to think his hobby is so queer when they are begging for seconds of his gourmet cupcakes.
And let’s not overlook the economic & environmental factors. I save hundreds of dollars every month by using scrap materials and recycling what others would normally throw out. If you have never lived on a farm you may not know the dark, ugly side to old farms. The years of buried garbage, including bottles, rusty tin cans, broken & unwanted household goods…we’ve even dug up a few hundred antique red bricks. Who in the heck buries perfectly good bricks?! Well, those bricks are about to be a beautiful walkway from the back door to the playhouse. The old shed that was left to rot has been dismantled and the good wood salvaged for what will soon be a chicken coop (yay! Next project!)
I think everyone could benefit from the joy of DIY. It boosts your self-confidence, makes for great quality time so the kids, saves money (and at times the environment) and if nothing else, power tools are a most excellent form of stress release. I have often thought about starting a non-profit organization called “Many Hands” where people in the community come together to borrow & lend tools, teach others their talents and lend a hand with projects around our homes & properties. How great of a community would that be??
If you need me, I’ll be outside refinishing the 8′ cedar picnic table we just bought from the “Habitat for Humanity ReStore” for $35.