Fix it or throw it away? It’s a tough question, especially if you’re not particularly handy. But with a few helpful tips and a little ingenuity, even the most fixing-impaired parents can tackle repairs around the house. These tips can help you save important household items – and maybe save a little money, too!
If you want to get the maximum mileage out of your children’s clothing, it’s time to bring a can-fix-it attitude into the laundry room. Removing even the most wretched stains can easily be accomplished with stuff already in your kitchen. Oily stains? Pre-treat them with the same dish detergent that degreases the frying pan. Many tough stains just need a little time and elbow grease – try using a toothbrush for the dirt that’s really ground in. And remember to read those clothing labels closely: washing it the way it’s meant to be washed is the easiest way to keep a piece of clothing looking great. Lose a button? Tear a hole? Don’t worry about a sewing machine; even if you’ve never threaded a needle before you can learn some basic clothing repair skills. A tear on the seam will be easy to fix, and no reason to discard a beloved T-shirt, blanket, or stuffed animal.
But what about the rest of the house? First, think about things that maybe aren’t quite ruined but could really use some improvement: a hinge that creaks, a drawer that doesn’t shut right, a mug without a handle. If you don’t have some already, pick out a few basic tools at a neighborhood hardware store. Get friendly with whomever you talk to there, because they’ll likely be able to advise you on any future projects. Now that you’ve got some tools and supplies, it’s time to start fixing things. Broken bowls and mugs are a great place to start. If it was a clean break and the pieces are big enough to hold in your hand, it can easily be put back together with a little super glue. Fixing a crack in your wall is as easy as smoothing on spackle, then painting over it; if you don’t have any spackle, try some basic white toothpaste. Tired of a doorknob that always sticks or a wonky cabinet door? Adjust the hinge using your screwdriver. The more you experiment with small fixing projects, the more your confidence will increase and soon enough you’ll be tackling bigger and bigger fixes.
Fixing things instead of throwing them out (or at least trying to fix them) sets an important example for kids: be proactive instead of wasteful. And household fixing can be a great way to break down gender stereotypes, too. Moms can settle the handy-“man” hype by showing Dad who really fixes things around the house, and every dad should be able to at least sew a button on a shirt. So next time something breaks, don’t go straight to the trash – fix it!