Starting a renovation can evoke an array of unsettled feelings – where in the world will we put our stuff, how will we manage without a kitchen sink, will my kids ever nap, and how do I ensure their safety? With a family of four and two kids under 6, I choose to roll with the adventure and chronicle the creative fun of parenting while renovating.
Prepare the Construction Zone and Say No to Stashing Stuff
The preparation can actually be the most liberating part of the experience. Clearing out the clutter and prioritizing material needs for several months is freeing. Each child was given some empty boxes and asked to fill them with items (clothes, toys, especially toys) that they can live without for the next two months. It’s surprising to see what is considered a child’s favorite things when they are given some alone time to sort. These boxes were labeled and put in the garage with a plan to revisit. I’m curious to see what items have been forgotten by that time and what items are given residence in our new space.
Get in on the Fun and See the Writing on the Wall
I am a believer of experiential fun and cautious risk-taking. Take an active role in the demolition process and encourage the kids to help. Allow the kids to use a hammer on the wall and then play connect-the-dots. Trace each other with permanent markers on the outgoing carpet. Sketch cartoon characters that will secretly reside in the walls.
Let Yourself Off the Hook
The idea of providing wholesome meals from the confines of our sink-less garage was a bit daunting. By focusing on meals that require only a spoon, fork, or fingers allowed me to explore alternate forms of protein and lots and lots of colorful veggies. But be real, when you’re feeding kids out of a garage without running water, its ok to use compostable dishes – the alternative may involve innumerable trips to and from the interior tub with buckets. Bucket brigades are novel for kids for a time, but difficult to encourage in the wee hours of the morning!
Think Outside the Sawdust and Make the Best of the Mess
One afternoon, I looked around at the layer of construction dust around my home and the foggy haze in the air, but was struck most by silence. I noticed our girls’ intense focus on the floor. They were enthralled with their new floor canvas ripe for finger tracks, car lanes, dollhouse blueprints, and letter tracing.
Sawdust in the driveway can be an art medium using a glue stick and scrap paper – keep it natural or dye it with fruit juice. Tile scraps from the backsplash or floor can become fascinating puzzle pieces and framing material. Reuse, Repurpose, Repeat…
I’m sure I will find evidence of our renovation adventures for some time, but the memories we are creating will be the most treasured!