That Time I Tried Home DIY Content

Here’s a quick #momtruth to say that for a time during the pandemic, when no one was going anywhere, I strayed from adventures writing in favor of posting home DIY content.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic struck in March 2020, everyone was confined to their house (the one thing I tried not to do with the blog). Without anywhere to go (or write about) I found myself yearning to stay connected to my audience in some new way. That’s when I decided to pivot into home DIY content instead.

Here’s what happened.

At the time, the content shift seemed like an obvious decision since we were already in the process of selling our California home and relocating to Washington.

I thought to myself: why not document that journey instead?

Plus, I wasn’t going to change the name of the blog or make an official “HOME DIY” announcement. But, I figured it was better to sprinkle in some new niche content rather than not posting anything at all. I began by quietly exploring various home-related bloggers on Instagram for house inspiration and admiring creators such as Angela Rose Home and Lindsay from Frills & Drills. Their content was not only inspirational, but from the influencer perspective, those boss babes were inking deals left and right for hands-on projects (using bada$$ power tools).

Those mamas were getting it DONE!

And I wanted to do that, too.

Furniture - moving boxesIn August 2020, following our moving announcement, I began discussing house stuff more and more on my Instagram page.

As a result, all sorts of new followers poured in to join our journey. Surprisingly, my home-related posts garnered at least ten times more DMs, likes, and comments than my child adventure content ever did. Home content is POP-U-LAR, you guys. Fans rack up fast for that niche. It was crazy and made me think it’s no wonder *HGTV thrives with its countless house shows.

For example, on Instagram alone, Angela has a whopping 1.5M followers while Lindsay comes in at a close second with 1.2M followers.

Not quite reaching their level (lol), I had just topped 10K followers on Instagram after blogging there for three years, the last couple thousand people in just for the housing content. So I was feeling pretty good about the content change. It also brought a renewed sense of accomplishment for being able to inspire my audience from inside the house, a place my adventure blog had so adamantly reminded parents to break free from.

As time went on, though, I began to feel the weight of this new direction.

Railroad car - HouseFirst, I missed going to new places with the kids. When we first arrived in Washington, we temporarily moved into a cabin owned by Bowen’s side of the family in a super small area known as Union, Washington. The house was on a golf course, so there were no young families around. And the pandemic was still happening, so we couldn’t really go anywhere anyway. Plus we didn’t know anyone. We got back on family walks, scooter rides, Walmart grocery pickups 30 min away and Bowen did a lot of golfing lol.

Second, house hunting in 2020 and 2021 was a beast. Like, legit emotionally exhausting. It took us 6 months to find a place when we expected the process to take 3 weeks. So not only did experiencing the intense buyer competition/housing market suck firsthand, but then I had to go home and write about it.

Third, trying to communicate the complexity of that journey in pics and captions wasn’t the most fun I’d ever had either. When I complained about house hunting or, later, about struggling with the 9,374 kitchen renovation decisions required of us, I’d get a ton of pushback. Mainly, from folks telling me I should be grateful to even be getting a new house. And how the process was “an exciting new adventure” – one I’d miss having later in life.

(Followup note to say a handful of my followers (you know who you are) became really close friends of mine during that time. Unlike the masses telling me I was lucky, these ladies were always around to commiserate about the crappy stuff, lend an ear, and talk me through whatever new frustration I was feeling. And then I listened to them for theirs. Instagram can be both a gift and a curse like that).

The masses, meanwhile, weren’t entirely wrong. The move had, in fact, presented new and fun experiences for our little family of four. (I even brought back some adventure content with our review of the Alderbrook Resort & Spa in Union WA in December 2020). The kids’ cousins also lived in Washington, so it was fun to see them too.

However, as a lifelong Californian, I also felt pretty displaced amidst the PNW’s dark and chilly rainy days. Add to that the pandemic’s bizarre-o-world burdens that made life feel heavier in general, our temporary living situation at a cabin that was not our own (when all I desired was to settle down), and – oh yeah – trying and failing to homeschool two children at the same time.

It all made things … way.more.challenging.

KIDS WITH BOOK SMILINGIt was also during that time when stopped posting to Instagram for a while and reviewed children’s books from indie authors on the blog, volunteered with the Central Coast Writers Conference via Zoom and wrote half of a women’s fiction novel myself.

I will forever be grateful that the cabin served as a place that allowed me to complete half of my manuscript, especially since I’d been struggling to find the words for it before.

Family - RecreationOnce Bowen and I finally found our new house and said goodbye to the rural cabin life, the DIY home reno content came. I scored home reno collabs with companies for things like wallpaper and lighting that are still hanging in our house today. That content was even more popular than the house-hunting posts. Samples and showrooms and Ikea shopping trips – people loved it. Two years later, I *still* get DMs about our flooring.

There was only one problem – WHO KNEW you actually have to finish the projects after you start them in the DIY niche?

I was quickly reminded by that chapter of life that I’m the queen of starting projects and quickly losing interest in them when they don’t turn out perfect, especially with kids in the house vying for my attention.

I mean … painting walls. Is there anything worse?! Holy spine pain, Batman! It takes SO MUCH prep, and then I end up messing up the lines anyway, get paint everywhere, hate cleaning up afterward, and basically have a meltdown mid-way thru as I Google if there’s anyone I can possibly hire that’s willing to finish my sh*tty abandoned paint job.

When the kids did finally go back to school, I’d come home from the bus stop and pull out a tripod and a paintbrush to tackle a new playroom accent wall or whatever. But then my parent brain would scream at me saying “Tonya, why are we spending my precious hard-earned alone time doing things we don’t really want to be doing?”

My parent brain apparently also talks to me in plural pronouns. Creepy, right?

house reno picsI tackled house project content for several months, despite not really wanting to. Then, as second doses of vaccines became more available and the pandemic fear of upper respiratory death by suffocation began to wane, so did my desire to be the next Angela Rose. Places began opening back up, and we once again lived in suburbia that was big-city adjacent. My heart knew it was time for a change once again. I longed to return to my adventure blog and resume my old content that got us out of the house instead of knee-deep and covered in paint inside of it.

selfie in the mirror of a hotelIt was around September 2021 when I began reaching out to tourism destinations again, earning a stay with the Silver Cloud Hotel in Tacoma/Point Ruston. Tourism/adventure content ensued. And all was well once again 🙂






kids and wallpaper samplesSo now you know the complete backstory when you stumble upon a photo of me painting a fireplace or the kids posing with flooring samples, either here on the blog or over on Instagram. (Although I still really do love how those white fireplaces turned out!)

Those posts are off-topic to adventure blogging, but I’ve decided to keep them up anyway. Because those squares still capture our journey: the move, our slow-motion slog through pandemic house hunting, purchasing our current home, and the ensuing renovation frenzy (which, by the way, we’re still in the midst of, haha).

All of those experiences still make up our story. They also remain a good reminder that while it’s essential to adapt to change and explore new opportunities, staying true to one’s passions is key.

*All these house content complaints still stand — minus that ONE TIME when HGTV found me through what I can only assume was a hashtag about moving in the (super weird) summer of 2020 and asked us to apply to be on a new show. (!!!) We didn’t get the show spot, but we DID get to the Round II interview! Yep, we’re cool. And that shall be my claim to fame for the next decade thankyouverymuch 😀


About Tonya Strickland

Tonya Strickland is a journalist and Instagram influencer in the family and travel niche. A former newspaper reporter, Tonya shares unfiltered #momlife content about places to go with kids. Her family moved from California's Central Coast to Washington state in August 2020. Their adventures now continue in the Pacific Northwest.

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