Wednesday 29 May 2013


Before the boys were born I had various good intentions about how we would bring them up. They were never going to eat biscuits or drink squash, never going to watch tv, definitely no computers etc etc. I also believed that I could bring them up fairly gender neutral. I wasn't going to deny the gender they were. I don't think that giving a child a totally neutral name and refusing to say "good boy!" is right- it seems to me it might make them think there's something wrong with being a boy, or that you are disappointed with their gender. However I wanted them to be free to develop however they were going to, and to enjoy playing with toys/games that were traditionally designed for either sex. Hoho. I suppose if I'd filled the house with dolls they would have made the best of it but there was absolutely no question that the things they both enjoyed most were tools and technical stuff.
As soon as they were mobile, anything with buttons or an on/off switch was fair game. Anything that could be tinkered with was given a thorough work out. Ok they did both push dolls in pushchairs at the toddler group, but I think it was the wheels and speed they were really drawn to- I didn't notice an awful lot of nuturing for the poor "baby" that was being rocketed around the hall; and they played with the toy cooker- buttons to press and turn.
They had various toy tools to play with when they were little, which they did enjoy (it is suprisingly satisfying to whack a wooden peg through a little hole!) and they still use little tools like spanners and allen keys for meccano-type construction toys;  but with a DIY daddy in the house there was no doubt that they quickly knew they'd rather play with the real thing.

Helping build the tree house.
Oooh, a real hammer!
Martin has been really good at explaining how tools should be used correctly, and the possible consequences if they're not. He's quick to take tools away again if they look like they're putting themselves or each other at risk, so the kids know not to mess around. There have been times I've felt he's trusted them too far, but so far there haven't been any injuries and they've learned and practised lots of new motor skills as well as useful DIY techniques that will stand them in good stead in the future.

Zac "helped" him construct the tree house aged 18 months, and they both got involved in making the climbing frame. Hitting a nail with a hammer requires pretty good hand-eye coordination, and getting a screwdriver into the end of a screw and then keeping it there while you turn it is also a tough challenge for your fine motor skills!

Investigating my new tools.
Off to the shed.

For Danny's third birthday Martin gave him a real tool box with some real tools in, and an electric screwdriver! I wasn't sure, but of course Danny was thrilled. He had a plank of wood with a few screws knocked in, and spent ages screwing and unscrewing them with his brilliant new tool.

Martin also let the boys get involved when he was building our utility room- ultimate joy!

It's not only DIY tools they love, gardening tools are also very appealing. The boys both love being given a proper trowel or spade to dig with and they're now allowed to use the secateurs and even the fly-mo under supervision.
You can dig much deeper with a real spade.

Two men went to mow.

So I guess in our house, tools have been a great way to practise a range of motor skills by tapping into something they're genuinely interested in. Tools have also allowed us to give the boys a sense of responsibility- we've trusted them to do something quite grown-up and they've responded by being especially sensible whilst using them. And at the same time, the kids have learned some genuinely useful skills for the future so hopefully they'll be able to look after us, and their own families when the time comes!

I love this blog-post about children using real tools at their pre-school to make a water wall. What a fantastic opportunity:
Or how about Teacher Tom's arty take on power tools with young kids:


  1. Love this Daisy, as you have seen my 3-4 year olds have loved using real hammers & nails etc. Thanks for adding this too.

  2. It's embarrassing to admit but I think your children are better at DIY than my partner!! Do you rent them out to put shelves up?? xx

    1. Lol! I seriously hope they'll be as handy as their dad (who's doing a bit of plumbing at this very moment) it saves us a fortune!

  3. I think thats exposing them to things like this makes them be aware early! With parental guidance tools and how to use it is an nice way for kids to learn =) #countrykids

  4. As you say - great for their fine motor skills and learning some life skills from their Dad too. A ready made workforce as they grow older and I'm sure Dad loves the willing helpers too. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  5. How great is this and those little boys look like they want to be just like Daddy! Love it. Great photos. #countrykids