When You Don’t Know How To DIY

My parents were always doing something around the house. Whether it was dad working on the vehicles – I thought everyone replaced their own brakes, or mom sewing up our Easter dresses every year – I loved the trips to the fabric store to pick out patterns and material, they were always doing something. They also built us a playhouse, added drywall to the basement, helped others paint, added a chimney to the house, installed a wood stove, cut firewood, build a back patio, dug up the lines for the septic system, had a garden, canned, volunteered with the local rural fire department, fixed plumbing issues, stripped wallpaper, and added a shower (along with tiling) to my grandmother’s house by shrinking a spare room closet and opening it from the bathroom side. It amazed me at what they knew how to do. I also took it for granted as a kid, assuming everyone’s parents knew how to do these things.

I married a man whose family was similar. His dad could do so many things. Over the years he owned various businesses, grew up on a farm, added underfloor heating to their house after creating a wood powered boiler to heat the water to go into said system, and more. His mother can start fruit trees from seeds she gets when she buys the fruit from the store. She can also cook like no one’s business without necessarily needing a recipe to follow.

Homemade chicken noodle soup

When I became an adult living on my own, I assumed that was the way people did things – if you can do it yourself, you do. Then came my first project which I did not know how to do. My first thought was to call my parents. For the most part they knew what needed to be done, but not everything. Then came the realization which should have dawned on me earlier – they did not always know how to do these things. Sure, they grew up in very handy families. That helped. However, not all of their siblings knew how to do all these things, nor seemed interested in even learning. What did they do when the did not know what to do? (Remember, the internet was not around then.) They bought books, talked to others who had done it before, thought it through, talked to workers at the store, etc.

What do I do when I want to DIY but do not even know where to start? I buy books/look on the internet, talk to others who have done it, think it through, talk to workers at stores, etc. The hardware store workers in Small Town had a wealth of knowledge and suggestions. One worker even began working there because she spent so much time (and money) getting items for various projects. You learn by doing and applying that knowledge.

Stripping and painting old door knobs

Through the years I have learned probably the most important lesson of all – try. Start small, do something, and try. If it does not work out like you wanted then figure out why, fix it, or do it again. It does not always need to be perfect, though sometimes it does – doors do need to close; often good enough will work. My garden edging is not at perfect right angles nor does each block fit exactly next to its neighbor. The plants do not care. I could drive myself crazy getting it perfect or spend that time putting plants in it. I choose to plant and deal with non-right angles.

While I really enjoy DIY projects, I am also a realist when it comes to various things. I could spend ALL summer digging up the hard, compacted soil in our backyard or hire someone to do it. Right now, it is worth my time and sanity to hire someone. I would rather use those limited resources to build a double curtain trellis for muscadine vines.

What project or activity you are wanting to try but are hesitant to tackle? Leave a comment, along with the first step you will take to conquer your project. (FYI: An online search for “how to XYZ” counts as a first step, as does “buying the proper tools”.)

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