Home Renovations

What to do with your kids, pets and spouse while you work

Renovation projects can be exhilarating to the one who has dreamed of a new marble countertop or a garage conversion, but to the rest of the family, renovation can mean one thing: aggravation! From displaced homemakers to disgruntled teens to confused pets, renovation means an upset in the routine and in one's private space. These two areas - routine and space - need to be adjusted to accommodate the rest of the household.

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Interrupting the Daily Grind

Altered routines need to be discussed prior to the start of the renovation. If a kitchen project is planned, meals need to be prepared in advance. Frozen casseroles and a microwave make a great combination that won't require the entire kitchen. Compile a notebook of takeout menus for easy delivery. Establish another area of the home for eating meals, such as a fold-up table in the corner of the family room. This allows for some much-needed break time from the project and some family interaction in the midst of the reno chaos. Always stockpile disposable paper products prior to the renovation. It cuts down on cleanup. You'll have plenty of that with the renovation project!

Getting in the Way

If the project area involves yard space where your pet roams, then alternate plans need to be made. A temporary dog run might be set up so that the pet is not in a dangerous work area that might expose it to chemicals, power tools, nails or electrical cords. A short stay in a kennel should be considered if the project is going to involve loud, ongoing noise. You don't want to come out of a project only to discover that you've permanently warped the family pet!

Private space is key for everyone. If a teenager is studying for the SATs in a renovation zone, expect frustration. If a toddler has no roaming room while the family room is redone, expect frustration. Set up play dates with relatives or friends to take toddlers or young children away from the worksite. Another choice is to hire a sitter to come in with planned crafts or games to be done in a non-work zone to occupy the children.

If the computer will be disconnected for the project, call a family meeting prior to the disconnection so that all are informed. These days, so many school and work projects are computer related that no family member needs to be caught off guard by another's renovation project.

Dealing with the Less-Than-Supportive Partner

If your spouse gets really frustrated with the upset in the family routine, acknowledge their feelings. Offer them a gift card for a pedicure, a walk in the neighborhood, a Chinese dinner or just a shoulder to lean on. Remember, their routine has been upset and they need some assurances that the project will be completed soon.

All family members, including the pets, need some down time in the midst of a major project. Schedule a family movie night or a picnic, and make sure your family sees a smile on your face from time to time. If your spouse has been wanting to take the kids to visit old Aunt Martha, the renovation period might be a good time for them to go while you stay and work.

Frustrations, aggravations and short tempers can come with projects, but family members need to know that you're thinking of them and not the broken bit on the drill!

Remember – to properly renovate, everyone has to acclimate!

By Jan Vroegindewey

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