Monday, May 25, 2020

Quarantine Home Projects: Get the Kids to Help

For the past ten weeks or so, my job as a principal shifted significantly, as did the jobs of quite a few people in the world. I went from interacting with hundreds of people every day, shifting gears every five minutes, and bouncing around my school for 11 or 12 hours per day, to mainly doing one of two things: sitting in front of my computer monitoring online classes or doing my normal email tasks, or having my headset in on a webinar, conference call, or phone call. Rather than sit all day, I walk during conference calls. I spent so much time on the phone walking around either the park or my school that I completely wore through my shoes, and then could not find anyplace to purchase shoes because of the quarantine order. Needless to say that at the end of the work day I was ready not to sit on my computer or in front of a screen.

So in mid-March I wrote a list of home projects that have been sitting on the back burner. One of the biggest home projects was removing and replacing the banister in our stairway with a banister that I started making out of black walnut almost a year ago. But like most of my projects, one things leads to another which leads to another, and the next thing I know I'm in a real live If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book.

"If I replace the banister then I need to patch up the wall where the old banister was attached."

"If I patch where the old banister was attached, then I have to paint the stairwell."

"If I paint the stairwell, then I need to paint the living room, which is adjacent to the stairwell."

"If I paint the living room, and the one wall goes down the hall towards the bathroom, then I need to paint the whole hallway."

And on, and on, and on.

So that's what I did. I created my list, I bought my paints (which corresponded with paints that I already had and needed to use up), and I started, one wall at a time, one night at a time, one weekend at a time.

And while I painted and drywalled and patched and repaired, I pulled my kids in to help. Having my kids help often made things go slower, and they slopped paint and missed spots. But I had them help because (1) they were also stir crazy, (2) they need to learn proper techniques if they will be functioning citizens someday, and (3) since students weren't at school, my kids had to take the brunt of my teachers-gotta-teach force. #principalkidlife

So together we painted and patched and wiped up spills and learned about tarps and brushes and rollers and trays. We laughed when we realized that, once the paint was dry, we couldn't always tell our three colors apart. As we tried to remember which was which, touching up became a game of Concentration*.

With that, the entire downstairs was painted—a chore that I have been putting off for the seven years we have lived in this house. With that completed, it was time to go on to some brickwork in the backyard, using bricks that I got for free that were removed from a house built in the 50s. Once again my nine-year-old rolled up her sleeves and helped with this project, moving bricks, shoveling sand, and wincing sympathetically when I smashed my thumb with a rubber mallet. Twice.
Touchup that didn't work

I'm not sure how long the quarantine will go on, but it seems like every time I finish a project around the house it's time to add a new one. So I keep moving forward, one day and one project at a time, grateful that I have a supportive family who helps and watches and cheers on and gets messy with me. If this goes on much longer, our house might be the next Winchester House.

*Side note - because we couldn't even keep the paint colors straight as we were painting, I know that any touching up in the future will be even harder to keep straight. I highly recommend the HomeZada app. It's a free app that I heard about through Rosie on the House. It allows you to keep things from your house organized. New appliance install dates, home receipts, paint colors, tree plantings, etc., are all in my HomeZada app now.

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