There are so many great DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects that you can do with your family geared towards smaller kids (treehouses, bug farms, swing sets) and teenagers (science projects, skateboard ramps and prom dresses). I remember certain moments like they were yesterday and have some of the failed and successful outcomes still in my room. A few priceless ones I remember vividly: a hand sewn gypsy Halloween skirt, a stage when I wanted to be a dancer (don’t worry this one failed) and trying to make our own family scary movie.
These are great memories for me and I think there are certain home projects I remember more than others, and want to give you a few tips that I think work really well for making the memory last—even if the project itself doesn’t.
1) Pick an Occasion
It was great when my brother and I did a project with my dad having to do with an upcoming birthday present, or my mom and I trying to sew a prom dress, making a present for someone else’s important day or even a project for the holidays. One year my family and I decided to do a weekend where we all made our own gingerbread houses for Christmas and we had roofing disasters, icing fights and ate more candy off of the houses than we put on. Now, when I see gingerbread houses, I think of those memories. So, picking a project on a special occasion will inspire more positive memories for your kids when they remember that special day.
2) Let Them Pick and Plan
We love to have a say—or at least feel like we have a say in what we do. Projects—especially if they take up a teen’s precious weekend time–will not be as well received if they originate and are planned by parents. If you have an idea for something, bring up a few different projects with your kids and have them choose which one they want. Then have them plan part of it so they feel like they are ‘owning’ the project not just participating in making it. They will feel much more pride when they are done (and remember it more). This way you can also learn more about their interests, kids now are really into technology: take apart an old computer or try to build a family website where you archive memories and stories.
3) Spread it out
No need to rush through a project to get it done all in one weekend. The longer you work on it, the bigger the reward will be when you finally get it done. Unless the project is a big mess, try to do little bits at a time. Plus, when you work on the same thing, for many hours in a row with the same people, there are bound to be fights. If you spread it out, you will not get tired of working with each other and it will give the family something to talk about and get excited about during the week!
4) Have a celebratory ending
Have you ever felt like you have worked on something and worked on something and when you are finally done it feels anti-climactic. I remember once my dad and brother spent ages building a little motor controlled boat and when they were finally finished we had no where convenient to play with it and they had to wait three weeks to go to a big lake to test it. My brother was super upset they spent all this time and then there was nothing really to do with it. It is always good to work towards something, so if it is a special occasion you can wear a hand-sewn dress, a huge picnic in the tree-house or a boxcar race at boy scouts, having something to celebrate and Do/show off your project at the end is really rewarding and makes great memories.
5) Be prepared for failure…and make that just as fun.
I do not have to mention that sometimes toys/projects/ideas do not turn out as well as you thought they would. Make sure before you even start that if whatever you and your kids are working on doesn’t work, its not a big deal…in fact, the whole point of making or building things is trying them different ways and having fun just trying. While you are working on your project mention to our kids how much fun you are having just making it, whether it ends up working or not. As I mentioned, my gingerbread house fell apart after a few hours, but it was still a great memory just because we got icing everywhere and laughed about “who needs a roof anyways?!”
Weekend projects are great, if you haven’t done any with your kids, definitely do not be afraid to go to the art store or hardware store and just take a stab at something, it is a great bonding opportunity