How Family DIY Projects Are Great For Mental Health
September 24, 2020
I had always known of my parents’ desire to move our little family of four to a farm for as long as I could recall. We already had a pretty good life in the city, considering both of them worked in the financial investment sector. But since they grew up on the farm themselves, they wanted the same thing for us.
The opportunity knocked when a family friend wanted to sell a small piece of land near the mountains in Montana. The man didn’t need to offer it to my parents twice as they agreed to buy it on the same day. I remembered Mom and Dad talking excitedly and saying, “I couldn’t wait to start building a house there and raising cattle and horses and sheep. I’m sure our kids would love farm life.”
In reality, I was against the idea in the beginning. I was ten years old at the time; even though I hadn’t been alive for too long, I spent all my years in the city. The change that the parents wanted to make sounded too scary for me. However, since they put a significant amount of money on building a farm, I went with the flow half-heartedly. I thought that I only needed to wait for eight more years before I could go back to the city where I belonged.
A funny thing about changes (which I realized later) was that you could never expect how you’d perceive it once you experience it. As mentioned above, when my parents were still discussing the farm, I felt upset about it. Though I knew there was no way for me to stay behind, I tried to plan how I could return to the city as soon as I turned 18 years old. However, once we started living in our new farm, I ended up liking it.
The land that my parents bought was at least two hours away from the town proper. When we arrived for the first time, there was nothing but the log house that they asked a contractor to build in a rush. Of course, I fell in love with it because I had been dreaming of living in one ever since I watched Snow White stay at the dwarves’ wooden home. My room even had a clear view of the mountain, so it was terrific.
The next day, I woke up and looked out of the window to see Dad opening the gates for a massive truck with livestock inside. I was so amazed when they set the animals free, and they started running around the farm. Chicken, horses, cows, sheep – you name it. My little brother and I spent the entire day running after them and making sure that they didn’t leave the property line.
Family DIY Projects
But you know, herding animals was not the most exciting thing that we did on the farm. Since our log house was the only structure erected in the land, there was no shelter for the animals. When I asked about it, Dad said, “Then, I guess we should start building it. Would you help me?”
Of course, I did. Every morning, Mom would wake us all up at six o’clock in the morning to feed all the animals. The feeding session usually took two hours, considering only my father could lift bundles of hay for the bigger creatures. My mother would then go back to the house to cook lunch while we proceeded to the barn site.
Though a couple of Dad’s friends came by to help, my brother and I tried to be the best assistants they could ever ask for. For instance, if they needed a wrench or hammer, we would be there to get it for them. If they were thirsty, we would run to the house to get a pitcher of ice-cold water and some snacks. And when it was painting time, we took pride in holding paint rollers and moving it as far as our little arms would let us.
Ideal For Mental Health
The entire family spent the summer DIY-ing the barn for the farm animals. It was much different from what I was used to, given that we were in the Bahamas a year before that, laying on the beach most of the time. However, looking back at it now, I must say that doing group DIY projects like that were more ideal for our mental health than going to any tourist destination.
After all, the projects gave my brother and me a sense of responsibility, which we never had when we lived in the city. We started waking up with a purpose; no one even whined about feeling bored because it was amazing to see the barn taking form before our eyes.
My parents didn’t hear me complain about moving to Montana since then as I embraced farm life completely.