DIY and the Single Parent

I am an avid DIY home improver. I believe there is nothing you can’t figure out with the power of perseverance and the magic of Google behind you. The pride that overcomes me when I see the finished version of an idea that gestated within my brain can only be beat by the pride I have in my children and their accomplishments. And when they want to help with a home-spun building or repair project? Well, that’s two birds with one very grateful, bursting heart.

File Jun 12, 10 15 20 PM

my kids playing in our new back yard

I am also very recently divorced.

There are a lot of adjustments that come with being a single, solitary parent. Everything becomes budgeted — your money, your resources, your time both with and without your kids. Your focus shifts from a team effort to a marathon mentality. You form new connections and networks to help you get through your days and weeks but at the end of the day once the kids are in bed, it’s just you.

Personally, one of the times I feel it the most is in my DIY time.

When you go from two adults to one in a household, especially a DIY household, you feel the absence in ways very different the average person may fully grasp. There is no one there to hand you a screwdriver when you’re elbows deep in trying to repair the dishwasher, or to bounce your ideas off of for re-configuring a closet. When something goes awry, there isn’t another set of hands to rush to the rescue. And when you’re out for the count due to work schedules, kids’ extracurriculars, or (the worst) illness or injury, there isn’t someone to pick up where you left off. Sure, family and friends may step in from time to time to assist as needed, but you can only count on the kindness and generosity of others so much without feeling guilty, like you’re leaning too much on people who aren’t responsible for you or your life, and certainly not your home improvement projects.

Yes, my kids (who already have a deep love for building things and solving problems and fixing stuff thanks to growing up around DIY nearly their entire lives) are great helpers with the tasks they can manage — but as early elementary school aged kids, that’s not actually a whole lot, nor is it consistent. I often feel twinges of guilt for working on the latest task while they play in the back yard or ask to go to the park — but the flip side is that if I don’t, say, fix the running toilet or repair the broken hand rail on the stairs, there’s no one else who is going to do it, either. It goes back to that budgeting of time, and I can only hope that when my kids remember this part of their childhoods, they’ll see a parent who took care of things the best they knew how, who worked hard on learning how to make things work or be better for their home, all on their own (save for the help from tiny hands, that is).

I have some pretty sizable projects on the horizon, and I’m curious to see how we three strike a balance between working on our new home, spending time together, and getting all the usual family things done in a day. I’d love it if you’d share your advice or words of encouragement for this newly solo DIYing parent in the comments or on social media, and stay tuned for our crazy adventures relearning how to make a house a home, together.

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