There are dozens of shows about home renovation, somehow they make it seem both easy and terrifying to embark on that journey at the same time. Surviving a renovation can take its toll on anyone, let alone a family with young children. Here are a few tips to make a renovation a little easier.
Preparation for Surviving a Renovation with a Toddler
- Shopping: A renovation involves expensive decisions that you will be enjoying for years. Do yourself a favor and take home material samples when you can. Hiring a babysitter is also a great option. When a designer told us she wanted to schedule a three hour meeting, we almost ran out the door. If you are bringing your little one with you, make sure to bring quiet toys and lots of snacks.
- Cleaning Up: Every company we spoke with told us there may be “a little dust.” Save yourself some cleaning time and move whatever you can out of the work area. Cover what you can in plastic drop cloths. It’s never “a little dust.”
- Donate & Sell: If you don’t need it or haven’t used it in a while, it might be time to let it go. Use your renovation as an opportunity to de-clutter your home and donate or sell what you no longer need.
- Create a Timeline Checklist: Include the days, times, and names of the contractors you’re expecting. Make a dated list of what needs to be done before the workers arrive as well as questions to ask them before they leave.
- Fair Warning: Let your toddler know that there will be people coming and going as well as loud noises. Our daughter likes going to the doctor, so my husband told her that the people laying tile were “floor doctors,” the electricians were “light doctors,” and so on. She loved it.
- Create a Play Area: We hid some of our daughter’s favorite toys a few weeks before the renovation. Then, we blocked off a special play area during the demolition and put her favorite things in there. We also gave her a few new toys and a craft kit to break up the long days.
During the Renovation
- Day One: The first day went better than expected, once the contractors arrived. We were able to sneak downstairs to peek at the construction while grabbing a snack. Watching the demolition was fascinating to our toddler. She probably would have watched them work all day.
- House Sitter: This idea came out of necessity. My daughter’s preschool open house coincided with the start of our demolition. Luckily, a trusted neighbor came into our home to supervise the start of the project. As a bonus, she asked them to begin with the tile demolition, so we missed the noisiest part of the day.
- Eating: We didn’t have kitchen access, but grilled food and a picnic outside was a delicious change of scenery. We also saved up gift cards and enjoyed some meals at our favorite restaurants (Thanks, Mom!).
- Nap time: One of my bigger concerns was nap time. Our daughter is a busy toddler and really needs a mid-day rest to make it happily to bedtime. Every day, I reminded her that “the doctors” would be downstairs making noise. Although her naps were shorter than usual, it went much better than I expected.
- Review the Work: Take time to look at the work before the contractors leave for the day. This is incredibly difficult when you have a toddler that just wants to explore. We would have saved a few repeat visits to correct mistakes if we had planned for this.
- Be Flexible: Much like vacation, I think that toddlers can understand that a renovation is a temporary deviation from the normal routines. We loosened limits on media. Cleaning seemed pointless when dust was being kicked up all day anyway! I really enjoyed being in a small play area with my daughter all day, rather than feeling pulled away to cook and clean.
After the Renovation
- Enjoy: You probably spent months or even years planning your dream renovation. Take some time to appreciate it. Invite friends over to delight in the finished product. Take a deep breath, because the renovation chaos is over and now the “normal” dust can settle again.
Despite how it felt during the renovation, basically everything stayed on track. If you’re like me, you’ve seen enough HGTV shows to expect things to go wrong. Planning and flexibility made it possible to survive our renovation…with a toddler!