Occasionally I come up with some golden advice. It’s not often I write about it here. But here I go. Are you ready for this?
I really really REALLY wouldn’t recommend one lives in the house they are fully renovating when one has a 3 year old and a 5 year old. Yep, kids and renovating are not a good mix.
However, if you choose to proceed (and in our case we did), then there are a few things you can do to make the process easier. It could even be fun. So I’ve come up with a list!
1. Surrender. Also known in Frozen lingo as ‘let it go’. Embrace chaos. Give it a warm understanding hug. Life with kids is chaotic anyway, add in renovations and you’re fighting a losing battle to find any order. As I said in my previous post, we threw out expectations of routines and rules. Just do what you need to do to get through. We lived without a kitchen for 12 weeks – which meant many nights of take-away. Not the healthiest, but better than starving, yes?
Sometimes meal times looked like this. I call it guacamole art.
2. Communicate. On a serious note, prepare your kids for the journey. Explain things as you go along. Give an assurance of a time frame or an end date. Towards the end they may need to hear that there actually will be an end.
3. Keep it positive. Adventure sounds so much better than ordeal. There is novelty in living like you’re camping out. For example, “How often do we get to eat our dinner on the floor?” Seeing the positive helped me as much as them.
4. Play. So obvious, but children still need to play regardless of what state their home is in. They will miss their freedom to spread out and make mess. I was ruthless in packing away nearly all their toys and books because I couldn’t cope with managing the extra clutter. Big mistake. They longed for their toys. In the end I let them have a few more items. They didn’t care one bit about the disorder around them.
We also tried to find creative ways to play. More garden time. More outings. And when we were exhausted I thanked the TV for it’s vital role in our survival.
5. Involve. Nothing better than involving children in the process. We were lucky to have a builder who liked our kids and engaged them with explanations. When there was time he asked them to help, like little lessons in using a hammer or painting a patch on the wall. We also let them crawl into cabinets and boxes whenever possible. When else would their house be a giant playground of possibilities?
The best days were when our builder suggested they create art on walls and tiles – surfaces that were about to be demolished or removed anyway. Sanctioned wall art! The only time in our lives we could say “Sure kids, draw on the walls!”
Some of the results were so good it was heartbreaking to see them demolished the next day.
So endeth the list.
Renovating with kids doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. It can be done. And it doesn’t have to be all bad. I’m sure my kids will look back on it as a rich life experience. Only this morning the 5 year old was saying “Mum, you know when we did renovations? We ate pancakes all the time and drew pictures on the floor. Those were the fun bits”.
Have you renovated with kids? Any tips to add to my list?