Becoming a parent is a testing time. Not only do you have to learn how to care for a new little human, you also have to be an expert at assembling things.
Don’t believe me? 80% of parenting is assembling items for your kids. The cot? Needs assembly. Changing table? Needs assembly. Any toy over 15cm in length? You’ve got it – needs assembly!
It wouldn’t be so bad if the instructions that come with these items were easy to understand, but not all manuals are created equal!
I remember assembling my daughter’s cot. The manual made no sense and I had to rope my brother into doing it with me. It was mostly guess-work, but the cot never collapsed, so I consider it a success!
Another piece of flat pack that stays with me is when I assembled a nursing chair that my parents had bought for me. They’d bought it online, so it only had pictures in it. At first glance, I thought I’d really struggle to assemble something that came with instructions without words, but it turned out to be one of the easiest pieces of furniture I’ve ever assembled.
After the triumph of the nursing chair, I think visual manuals are probably the best your can hope for, in this world of assembling and operating new things that parenting thrusts you into.
Peak assembly is always Christmas and birthdays up until your child is about eight. The younger the kids are, the more toys people buy for them that need a parent wielding a screwdriver. My least favourite instruction manuals of this variety are manuals that come in only one language, but that language isn’t English!
Multilingual manuals are always a relief to see (so long as there’s a section in English!)
The job of assembling toys or furniture doesn’t seem to need doing less often as they get bigger. Beds need assembling, desks need assembling, wardrobes, chests of drawers, bedside tables and bookcases all need assembling.
Basically, from the minute you a have a child, you have sentenced yourself to about 20 years of furniture assembly and about 15 years of trying to figure out how toys and technology works. You’d think making a person would be all the complex assembly you’d have to do to be a parent, but no; furniture assembly is still the biggie!
Just in case you’re reading this and laughing at how wrong you think I am, ask yourself why grandparents are so good at making things. On every street there is a grandpa who made his own shed, and maybe his own dining table too!
Grandparents are always better than young parents at this sort of thing for this very reason – they’ve had longer to practice their skills. I’ve always been a manual-reader when we get something new, but have you noticed that granddads never bother? They just know, don’t they?
While I would only advise going manual-free is for experienced parents (or Christmas mornings where instructions aren’t included/ are written in Japanese), it’s still kind of the dream for me.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew though, I’ve seen my friends miss out a few important components by going manual-free. I tend not to lean against any bookcases in their house these days!