The moment you have a child, you realize how woefully inadequate your current accommodation is. You thought you had everything, but you were seeing it through the lens of a professional adult. Once you become a parent, everything changes.
Fortunately, in most cases, you don’t have to move home. Instead, you can simply update or upgrade your existing property to provide all the features that your new kids need. Here’s what to do:
Carefully Consider The Time Of Year
Before you start tearing down wallpaper and ripping out kitchen cabinets, think about whether now is the right time to start work on your remodeling project. Many parents find the renovation process stressful because it interrupts family life.
For families, the summer is usually the best time to work on major home projects, particularly during the school break. The weather is warm, meaning that even if the house is out of action, kids can still go outside. What’s more, you don’t have to worry so much about preparing packed lunches or doing the school run.
The winter is probably the worst time for a renovation. The weather is too cold, so families and contractors have to work side-by-side. What’s more, sometimes the weather is so bad that it is impossible to work, creating delays – not what you want.
Plan For What Your Kids Will Need Later, Not Just Now
When you have a young baby, you focus intensely on their current needs, such as space for a crib, a baby changing area, and a playpen. However, as your children grow older, their requirements will change.
For this reason, parents need to think carefully before renovating any particular property. Sure, it might fulfill your family’s needs right now, but it might not in five years’ time when your newborn is ready to go to school.
There are all sorts of examples of families making renovation mistakes. For instance, a couple thought it would be a nice idea to install an ensuite bathroom next to a child’s bedroom in a sloping alcove. When they first built the shower unit, it was tall enough for the child to stand up, but once they became a teenager, they had to start bending down to use it. The ceiling simply wasn’t high enough.
Let Your Kids Make Small Decisions About The Renovation
You don’t have to hand the entire renovation project over to your kids to manage. However, it can help to let them make small decisions from time to time. Giving them some ownership over the process helps to make them feel more involved and actually improves how they respond to the work. If they can see the effects of their decisions playing out in reality, then they are much more likely to help, rather than hinder, the project.
What decisions should you allow your kids to make about the renovation? Well, here you have several options. One is you let them make decor decisions. Ask them how they would like their rooms painted. For other rooms, you could select a shortlist of designs that you like and then give them the final say. For instance, you could present them with three options and get them to choose the one they like most.
If giving your child that amount of power is a little scary for you, you can always scale back the size and impact of the decisions you let them make. For instance, you could let them choose the style of duvet covers they like from a shortlist, or how to physically arrange the layout of the room.
Make The Renovation Fun
Kids love to have fun. You could say that they are experts at it. In fact, everything they do is for the purpose of fun. They don’t care about money, time or ego.
But how do you make renovation fun for kids? Well, as it turns out, there are several things that you could try.
- Get them to draw on the walls once they are striped, marking the paint color
- Ask them to draw plans for what they would like the renovation to look like and then forward these to a professional designer for inspiration
- Buy them play tools so that they can join in the building process
Maintain A Kid-Friendly Space At All Times
During a renovation, it won’t always be possible to keep the entire space kid-friendly. However, your renovation plan should provide at least one space where they can go and just play at all times, not including the garden.
One approach is to stagger your renovation. For instance, you might do the kitchens, bathrooms, and one reception room first, providing a second for your kids. Once the first phase is over, you move into the newly-renovated reception room while builders focus on transforming the second half of the house.
Another approach is to simply cordon off certain areas and make them child-friendly. For example, you could place a teepee in the corner of the living room and fill it with toys and books for them to explore. You could also move your playpen, providing space for renovators to move in and out freely for their work.
Be Smart When Packing Toys Away
During renovations, parents need to pack away toys to make space for work to take place. Unfortunately, doing so can sometimes create tension.
You know the drill: you just packed away a bunch of toys your child hasn’t used for months and then, suddenly, they ask you where they are. You then rush down to the basement or up to the attic and start rummaging through all your boxes to find them.
The trick here is to carefully store all items in labeled boxes. This way, when your child asks for a particular toy, you can immediately produce it, avoiding temper tantrums.
Designate A Bathroom For Contractor Use
If you only have one bathroom, then everyone will have to share. But if you have more than one, designate one for contractors, and then the others for your children. While it sounds like a small change, it can make a major difference. Kids won’t get in contractors’ way, and vice versa.
Befriend The Workers
Most contractors will work quietly in your home without actively seeking conversation. However, that’s usually company policy. Deep down, they would love a chat.
Maintaining an open dialogue with painters and decorators, HVAC professionals, and insulation installers can help kids feel more relaxed. It creates a friendlier environment and makes it easier for everyone to get along. Over time, kids will start to feel more relaxed with people moving in and out of the home, and they may become less shy.
Go To The Library
Being in the house all day while noisy renovation work is ongoing is stressful. Therefore, many parents take a trip to the library to enjoy more quality time.
Don’t Infect Your Children With Your Emotions
For parents, renovations can be emotionally challenging. When you have to make dozens of decisions every day, it takes a toll on your wellbeing. If you allow your kids to see this, it will affect them too, making them feel the same angst as you.
To avoid this, vent your frustrations elsewhere. Leave your partner in charge of the kids for the evening and go out with friends. Tell them what’s going on in your life and how it is affecting you emotionally.
As a last resort, vent to your partner. But only do this if you are sure that they can cope with it and that it won’t start an argument.
Prepare Meals In Advance
When workers are ripping out kitchen units and installing new ranges, cooking is virtually impossible. Therefore, you’ll need to prepare meals in advance, unless you want to foot some large takeout bills.
Before work gets underway, buy some Tupperware containers and then spend a full weekend cooking various meals. Then, once prepared, place the containers in the freezer, ready to microwave when you need them.
Another option is to set up a temporary kitchen somewhere else in the house. All you need for this is a microwave, electric hob, rice cooker, and kettle. This way, you don’t need to rely on rerouting any gas piping.
Take A Vacation
Living through a renovation isn’t easy because it disrupts regular family life. Depending on the work being done, you might not even have electricity for long stretches of time.
To avoid all this, you could take the opportunity to go on vacation. Go and enjoy yourself while the work is being done, and then return to a brand new home.
Accept That It Will Never All Be Done
Lastly, home renovations are rarely the final chapter in the story. There will always be more work that you need to do on your property. That’s just how homeownership works.
The trick here is to get your kids to accept it as a fact of life. They need to get used to people coming to the house to fix things or build extras.