Growing up, my dad could always be found tinkering with something in the house. Whether it be putting up a shelf, changing a light bulb, fixing the washing machine or mowing the lawn. As I got older my dad was keen to get me involved in doing lots of these things with him. ‘You’ll need to know these things when you move out’ was his favourite thing to say. At the time changing a fuse in a plug or reading the gas meter was not my idea of fun and I would much rather be sat on my laptop or watching TV. However I have now got to admit that he was right and thank him so much for showing me many life skills.
When I was 18 I moved from London to Nottingham to go to University. In my second year it was time to move into a student house. A house full of 6 of my best girlfriends was fantastic and moving in the focus was in girly nights in and big nights out. However after only 2 days of being in my student house in Nottingham, the things my dad had taught me came into use. It was the first Friday night and we were all getting ready for a night out in town. There was music playing and hair dryers blowing when all of a sudden it all went quiet. The power had gone. My fellow house mates started to panic. ‘We should phone the landlord’, ‘I’ll phone my mum’ and ‘I need to straighten my hair!’ were the calls of my housemates. However I knew that the most likely cause would be that the power had tripped. On the first day in the house my dad had shown me where the fuse box was and explained what to do if the power tripped. Using the light from my mobile phone, I searched under the stairs and found the fuse box and flicked on the switch which bought the power back on upstairs. Everyone was surprised I knew what to do, and I wouldn’t have either if I had not been taught. I don’t think the landlord of our student house would have been impressed to be called out on a Friday night to flick a switch.
From that day on whenever there was a problem I was the first port of call. From reading the gas meter, changing light bulbs, working the lawnmower to unblocking a plug hole full of hair – eurgh – I am the houses resident DIYer. These skills may not sound that difficult, but I was surprised how my housemates didn’t know how to do some of these simple everyday tasks.
If you are about to move into your own student house and don’t know how to do some of the tasks I have mentioned, get someone to show you now. Part of living away from home in a student house is becoming independent and surviving without the safety net of your parents. I know many people are taught how to use the washing machine and how to prepare their favourite meals but a bit of simple DIY is also helpful. Obviously, you have a landlord to do major repairs but being able to do things for yourself is a good life skill. I have also taught my housemates and when there is a problem I phone up my dad and her talks me through problems if he thinks there is an obvious easy solution. As much as I got fed up with being shown how to do things before I moved away, it has enabled me to get on confidently on my own and it is good to know I don’t always need to run to mum and dad for help.