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5 Ways to Survive Home Remodeling With Kids

So, you want to add on to your house? Or maybe just renovate the bathroom or update your kitchen? Congratulations! And good luck, especially if you have a family. I know, I've been living in Remodel Land for the better part of a year. While everyone told me that renovating a house is a test of your marriage, your sanity and your family life, those things are all still intact (I think?) so I'm going to share some of my tips with you.

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1. Tell them early on.

As with many big life decisions, don't surprise your kids. But share information on an as-needed basis. Let them know when you are in the planning phases, so they aren't broad-sided when a construction crew shows up. But you don't need to share every gory detail; they don't need to know the APR on your re-fi or hear you and your spouse argue about the budget. Big numbers (anything over $100, for my kids) are too abstract for young children and may stress them out.

Remember, a trip to Home Depot is not quality time for you or your family.

2. Involve kids in the planning

But be realistic about it. We started showing our kids early versions of the floor plan to get their feedback. Of course, our fourth-grader wanted to know why he couldn't have the master bedroom. My boys have been dragged to every home repair emporium within a two-hour radius. They know how to use the kitchen layout program on the IKEA computers. And we settled on bright turquoise paint for their bedroom after they zoomed in on the name Yosemite Blue.

3. Let them take a swing at it!

Some families we know have let their kids draw or write messages on the old walls (goodbye, house!) or pick up a sledgehammer and make the ceremonial first strike during the demolition. Our family didn't do this, as my husband has put so much sweat equity into the house that it would have felt disrespectful to turn the kids loose on it. We also did a photo shoot with some of their favorite parts of the old house, such as the mural on their bedroom wall.

4. Take it easy … on yourself

How much more could a remodel add to the already hectic life of an active mom, right? Consider it a part-time job (or another job on top of your regular employment and the unpaid labor of raising a family). Maybe you don't volunteer for room mother, team parent or even cook homemade dinners every night. What you do need is a break from the constant appointments and decision-making. Remember, a trip to Home Depot is not quality time for you or your family.

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5. Remember, it's like childbirth

When it's all done and you see the finished product, it's all worth it. And you forget about the pain pretty quickly. The work on my house isn't quite done yet, but I'm enjoying the addition and the upgrades (a dishwasher, finally!) so much that I'm already fantasizing about what to renovate next…

Image via Grace Hwang Lynch

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