Remodeling with kids can be a positive and memorable experience if you plan for it!
Set the tone of the remodel with your attitude.
Remodeling with kids. It sounds overwhelming, but come to the project with an attitude of “we get to do this” rather than “this is happening to us”. Now of course there are extenuating circumstances where remodels or builds come out of events that can be very difficult which requires a different measure of support. However, thankfully, for most of us remodeling or building should be an exciting time for your family. As a former teacher, I know how much children look to the adults in their lives to set the tone and your gratitude over the course of the project will make them willing participants in the wonderful chaos of building a home.
Be honest with contractors and subcontractors when you are hiring for your remodel or build.
Being real about your stage in life when interviewing contractors and subcontractors is critical to the success of your working relationship. If you have concerns about the ages of your kids and the impact of construction on your daily life, ask contractors for their input and what strategies have been successful for families they have worked with in the past. Very quickly you will get a feel for their level of comfort and flexibility that comes with working alongside a busy family. If you plan to live in the home during a remodel or addition, be very clear that that is your intention and make sure all parties are comfortable working with you on that decision. Not all contractors are fans of a family living through the remodel and that can set the relationship off on the wrong foot. Communication is key!
Block time for daily check ins with contractors and subs.
As parents, we all know the busy times of our day. Those moments where no matter what is on fire around you, you just can’t tend to it because the kids are your complete focus. Let those working on your home know which times are better to have your full attention and focus. I protected breakfast and getting the kids off to school. I was home by 8:15 AM, ready for a daily check in. Everyone had my full attention and I could make decisions without distraction. It didn’t bother me if everyone was here and started work at 7:15 AM, but we met an hour later. The same was true for the afternoon before picking up kids and busy activities. This allowed me to be fully present “as usual” for my kids and didn’t lead to them resenting my distractions.
Keep routines as consistent as possible.
This is especially valuable if you have young children. I tried to keep the rhythm of the days the same, while acknowledging that it looked very different! We made a makeshift kitchen for meals, BBQ’d in the driveway and had nights of sleep on air mattresses in the living room. It really can all be fun, if the attitude is on point! For routines, I purchased the sturdy plastic bins with drawers to substitute for closets and kept an area clear for homework and school papers. The less you’re having to find on the fly the better. Fewer last minute searches = less stress. This is definitely an area where a little planning goes a long way.
Create a special remodel bin and keep it in your car.
Unexpected meetings with the cabinet designer or visits to the tile store are one of the biggest challenges when remodeling with kids. Creating a remodel bin in your car will ensure these visits run smoothly. Choose items that are not played with every day…novelty is key to keep their attention! Silly putty, coloring books, cards, play doh or small travel games are all great options. The goal is a happy, entertained child while you do what you need to do in the store. By now you may be thinking…they can just play a game on my phone. Not so fast…you will need your phone to look up a photo, measurement or invoice and taking the phone can lead to an unhappy mini-customer. Save the power struggle and go old school on this one!
Cherish the Experience of Remodeling with Kids!
Making a home is an emotional experience and a huge learning opportunity. Don’t leave your kids out of the process because they will remember it forever if they are a part of it. Realize that they probably don’t see anything “wrong” with the home before the remodel. My son LOVED the [in my eyes] ugly 40 year old bright blue cabinets in the kids bathroom. He asked to keep one of the doors on demo day, because he couldn’t image anything could be better than that blue bathroom. Needless to say, when all was done, he threw out that old door! The important part was that we honored his emotions as the home was changing. Huge changes can overwhelm kids so do whatever you can to make them comfortable. Take lots of before pictures, explain why you are making changes and let them pick out things when appropriate. Most of all, celebrate and cherish the experience!
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