RENOVATING WITH KIDS, San Diego
Renovations can be a stressful time for anyone, but adding kids into the mix creates a whole new level of potential chaos. While it’s always important to focus on the end goal, a beautiful new home, you still have to survive the renovation as a family. We wanted to help you get through your renovation while keeping your family happy and safe, with some tips straight from the experts!
Involve Them in The Process
One of the best ways to create an easier renovation process is to get your kids involved in the renovation process. If you are renovating yourself, of course, safety is always the top priority when remodeling your home, but giving your children small, easy tasks that they can assist with. Take things a step further and get them fun work clothes to get them in the mood to work with you! The most important point of involving children in the physical renovation process is to drive home that tools are not toys, and they must be treated differently than they would play with their toys. If you want to involve your kids in the process in this way, it’s important to be aware that your overall renovation will probably take longer than the alternatives of doing it by yourself or hiring a contractor.
Another way to get your kids involved in the process is to have them make some small décor decisions. Let your children feel heard, and listen to their ideas. This is particularly important when you’re renovating their bedroom, bathroom, or playroom. You want them to have a space where they not only feel comfortable but also that reflects them as a person. Give kids a list of 3 pre-approved choices to pick from, whether that be paint colors, rugs, artwork, etc. This way they get a say in the final decision but you have already vetted what you would feel comfortable with as an adult. By involving the whole family in the renovation, it can turn a potentially stressful situation into a fun adventure for everyone!
Keep Work-Space and Living-Space Separate
One of the easiest ways to keep renovations hassle-free and safe is to keep the living area apart from the work area as best as possible. Keeping one space as dust-free as possible will help ensure a sense of normalcy and create a place to relax after a stressful day. Cordon off work areas with plastic on doorways, or physical barriers if children are too young to understand to not enter a work zone. In whichever room you choose to make the family room during your renovation, keep a specific space a fun kid-zone! In this designated space they can keep some toys and a few other fun items to keep themselves occupied and have a safe space to play. If there are particular toys or items that your child has mentioned recently or you know are particularly important, these are the ones to keep in their kid-zone in the family space. For other items that are not in use, we recommend putting them away into sealed (and labeled for easy unpacking!) storage bins until your renovation is complete to avoid extra clean-up from dust and debris!
Be strategic about what you renovate and when
When working around kids’ schedules it may seem like there is no “good” time to renovate, but most parents say that spring and summer are the best times to start a renovation. Since kids’ schedules are already uprooted during this time it is easier to create a more flexible schedule, take a vacation, sign them up for summer camp to get them out of the house, and schedule BBQs or eating out (if you’re doing a kitchen remodel). Once you know the time of year to schedule your renovation, the next piece of the puzzle is to schedule around the big things in the remodeling process. Having kids around during demolition, floor refinishing, or any other dangerous/loud work is not ideal. Being able to know when these steps in the process are taking place, will allow you to schedule activities or trips to relatives’ or friends’ homes during this time to keep kids out of the house.
During any renovation, but particularly kitchen renovations, knowing where your meals are coming from will help remove unwanted and unnecessary stress. On top of the reduced stress, anytime you can get your hands on a home-cooked meal during a remodel will feel downright homey. Freezer-friendly meals are a life-saver during this time for times when another night of takeout just won’t work. Easy meals that can be made in bulk and are easy to microwave, like chili or stir fry’s, are ideal for this situation! Similarly, it is a great time to become friendly with your slow-cooker. Since you can plug it in anywhere, you can potentially even make meals in the bedroom corner with your slow cooker set up on a side table. It is super easy to create a nutritious meal that you can throw on after work and it will be done by the time the kids get home from school! You can set up a temporary kitchen in the family space to make mealtimes easier for the whole family. A microwave, electric burner, a toaster, and a coffee maker are great in a pinch to keep mealtime a breeze during your renovation!
Keep The Routine
Routine is always important for children and adults, and just because your home is in upheaval doesn’t mean your routine has to be! Maintaining as much order as possible will help kids with the changes and overall chaos that goes on while renovations take place. The type of routine you keep may look different depending on the age of your children. Like we spoke about earlier, having a play space is important for younger kids, but having a separate space (or if space is an issue, a set time), for older kids to get some privacy is just as important to keeping everyone happy! Keeping things consistent, even if that just means having breakfast or dinner together, will help with the overall stress that accompanies remodels.
Keep Lines of Communication Open and Schedule Self-Care!
Renovations are stressful, even if nothing goes particularly wrong, but keeping communication between you and your family (and of course, you and your contractor) is absolutely vital. If stress builds up with things unsaid, it will eventually lead to a breaking point which could throw off not only the renovation but the sense of balance in the home. If your kids seem stressed with all the changes happening, or the strangers that are in their home, encourage them to speak to you about it so you can find some way to move forward together!
Of course one of the best ways to combat stress is to ensure that you schedule in self-care during stressful times. Part of keeping things normal and fun for them is for you to be in a place of calm and ease yourself. Unless you are taking some time to help yourself through the renovation process, you are unlikely to be able to do this. Maybe your way to decompress is making sure you get to the gym or a yoga class, perhaps it’s meeting up with a friend for coffee or dinner. Whatever self-care looks like to you, it’s important that you maintain these little things that keep you going. If you are happy and calm, then this will be picked up by your family, and especially your children, thus helping them to relax and enjoy the process with ease.
You Can Always Escape
If all else fails, remember you can always escape. A remodel may be a good time to get away for a while, or spend some time with family. Your contractors can advise on the timeframe of the work, or at least when the heaviest and noisiest work is going to take place. Instead of pushing yourself and your children through the increased stress, book into a hotel, local B&B for a few nights, or maybe even consider taking that family vacation you’ve been talking about! If you can’t leave home for any reason, perhaps the kids can spend a few days at a friend’s home or the grandparent’s house, so you can handle the renovation kid-free. our children are likely to enjoy this experience and will probably see it as a little getaway.
Finally, stay positive! With all the disruption it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and maybe even lose sight of the end result, a beautiful new home. This chaos can manifest in different ways, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude towards the process despite the frustration because your kids will pick up on these emotions. Pitch it as a family adventure and use it as a time to bond and be creative as a unit!
We would be remiss if we didn’t discuss safety in a blog about renovating with kids. Renovations can be hazardous for anyone, but for kids who are still learning boundaries and about dangerous situations it can be nerve-wracking for parents. Keeping kids out of the way of workers, and out of the renovation, space is the best way to ensure safety. When workers are bringing in large pieces of equipment, or cumbersome materials it can be difficult to see small children who may get in their way. Keeping kids occupied during material deliveries is the best way to promote safety for both your children and your crew! Similarly, when a remodel is underway and there are unfinished elements, like exposed wiring, curious little hands may find hazardous situations. Supervised visits to the work zone are the best way to avoid potentially dangerous situations, but also keep kids involved and satiate their curiosity about the process. During this visit, it’s a good time to not only check on the process of the job but introduce kids to the crew so they are more familiar with the people who are in their space. Finally, despite your best efforts, dust and dirt will be a part of any renovation, and keeping on top of the air quality in your home will help prevent asthma and allergy flare-ups. While steps to prevent dust exposure are taken in any renovation, if you or anyone in your family suffers from asthma or allergies, it’s important to discuss that with your contractor upfront so extra precautions can be taken. Sealing off any HVAC ducting or vents in the area, hanging plastic sheeting, using disposable drop cloths, and maintaining a clean workspace by vacuuming all horizontal surfaces with a HEPA-filtered vacuum at least twice a day, can really protect your family from the particulates and dust that can get into the air!