How to Survive a Home Renovation With Kids

When we completed our first renovation we only had one little. We also had the luxury of organizing it so that we could continue to rent while not living in the chaos that was.

This time will be very different. We now have a 2 littles both under the age of 5. So how do you do it? I’m not an expert but will follow this practical advice.

Safety First

The No. 1 priority during any home renovation is the safety of your children. Take precautions to protect your kids from dust, sharp or dangerous tools and toxic products like varnish and paint. Try hiring a family-friendly contractor who has experience working on projects with kids present and ask them to pack away dangerous tools so they’re out of reach.

They can also help erect barriers around the work area, such as plastic drop cloths or zip walls, to keep dust from spreading. If possible, put up child-friendly gates around the work area or semi-permanent walls to keep the work zone separate from the living zone.

Keep in mind even the most considerate contractor isn’t a babysitter and can’t keep an eye on your children for you or pick up after themselves at every second. Make sure you remind your kids which areas of the house are off-limits and be extra vigilant. Lastly, introduce your kids to the renovation team so they don’t feel like there are strangers in the house.

Do one room at a time

The bigger the renovation, the bigger the stress. Choose one room to renovate at a time and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief during the process. The kitchen and bathroom are “priority” rooms, in the sense they’re harder to live without and will likely make family life easier once complete.

Be flexible, especially with timelines

With any home renovation, it’s important to expect the unexpected. Assume it will take a lot longer than you anticipated. Laundry still needs to be done and beds still need to be made. DIY projects will inevitably drag on, as one partner may have to do more of the work on one day while the other keeps the kids engaged. The point is to be flexible, adapt and proceed as efficiently as you can.

Find family-friendly workarounds

Since renovation timelines are unpredictable, you’ll want to make your living situation as sustainable as possible. That might mean creating a temporary kitchen in the living room or basement (complete with mini fridge, hot plate, kettle, microwave and dishes/utensils) or even kitting out your backyard with an outdoor shower. Adults may be able to go without bathing for a few days or eat out at restaurants for every meal but this simply isn’t realistic for children. Find comfortable, interim solutions until you can get your living situation back to normal.

Get the kids involved

Construction sites aren’t playgrounds for children but getting your kids involved in the renovation process is a great opportunity for family bonding. It can be an excellent learning experience, too. Older kids can help out more than younger ones, but things like wiping surfaces or windows, using the tape measure, sweeping (with a small broom) and sanding with sandpaper are a few kid-friendly tasks you can assign. Planting a garden? Let your kids get their hands dirty. They’ll get to experience the satisfaction of watching their crops grow firsthand.

Ask for their advice and let them weigh in on things like choosing between paint colours, tiles and backsplashes. Have fun with it. You can even make them a badge and dub them “design expert”!

Get out of the house

Construction time is the perfect time to spend a day together as a family. Cope with the destruction at home by planning outings away from the chaos. (And no, a trip to the hardware store does not count as quality time.) Pack a picnic and head off to the beach, park or playground for some well-deserved downtime. If you can get away for a weekend, even better. Your sanity will thank you.

Make time for self-care

Downtime goes for parents, too. Taking time to decompress, eat right, exercise and see friends will contribute to a happier household—and a happier renovation project overall.

With the right planning, a home renovation with kids can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Once the chaos of the remodel is over, you’ll have a wonderful space for your family to enjoy, making the weeks or months of mess and stress worth it.

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