Renovating your home with children
Owning your own home is a feeling like no other, and part of the Kiwi dream. But sometimes in order to create that “dream home”, you’ve got to do a little work.
When my husband and I purchased our home, we added value through renovations. We were excited to get started but we were conscious that renovating with two young children in tow was going to be challenging - but we knew it was achievable.
Here’s what we learnt in the process:
1. Don’t be put off tackling a renovation
The idea of living amongst a renovation project with two small kids was scary, but it didn’t deter us.
Instead, we turned it into a true family project and involved our boys where we could. We had fun in the process and created lifelong memories within our home.
For children, it can be an exciting and very rewarding experience, especially when it involves swinging a hammer through plasterboard and ripping down walls.
Equally, it’s important to consider how the change might affect your little ones. For example, having the kitchen out of action and being unable to whip up snacks easily can result in some “hangry” kids.
The key is to set yourself realistic expectations and move at a pace that suits your family.
2. Find jobs that children can help with
Assigning tasks can give your children a sense of responsibility while learning new skills and gaining confidence along the way.
Just like all household jobs, consider the child’s age and what they can safely carry out. Explain the task and be there to guide them, but allow your kids to have a go and do the job themselves – the sense of accomplishment they gain from this is huge.
Ways your children could help include:
- Anything to do with drilling is always fun. If your children are still young, a kids toy drill can be a great alternative. When a job is too intricate for their involvement, give them a piece of timber and drill a row of screws to get them started. They'll love drilling the screws all the way down and back out again.
- Mixing together the plaster in a bucket. Messy yes, but they'll love it.
- Swinging a hammer into any demo work and ripping down the old plasterboard is fun no matter your age. Our boys had the honour of striking the first hole in a wall that was about to come down.
- Painting is always a great option. Test their skills with the undercoat, as the finish isn't as important. For toddlers, set them up with their own timber and a bucket of water they can ‘paint’ with.
- Sanding: start younger kids off with sand paper and as they get older progress them to an orbital sander. Window ledges are a good option or smoothing out plaster.
- Assign them the title of “right-hand assistant”. If the boys were physically unable to do something, we would have them think they were helping. Screwing our flat pack kitchen together, the shelving and cabinetry were too heavy for them, but by resting their hand on the shelf they would think they were holding it up.
Do be realistic on the project you’re undertaking. When it’s simply unsafe for children to be on site, we would ask a family member or friend to watch the boys for a few hours.
3. Balance is key
Undertaking a renovation can be exhausting for everyone involved, particularly when you add children to the equation.
We learnt to balance the renovation process with quality family life as it can get tedious and feel like every weekend is spent renovating.
Take a day or a weekend off to head away from the house for a reprieve. There’s nothing like a spending the day together and having fun to feel recharged.
4. Document the renovation
When the renovation is complete you’ll want to be able to look back and compare the before and after’s. Don’t forget to record those moments where your children are involved, or as my husband would joke “earning their keep”.
Our boys love looking through our renovation album, reminiscing on a project they had a hand in. Looking back, they are in awe of how small they were and the renovation jobs they were “in charge of”. You can see a real sense of achievement in that moment.