Parents face unique challenges when it comes to navigating substantial remodeling projects. In addition to the usual stresses and challenges associated with these projects, parents also have to manage their children’s feelings, expectations, and interactions with the project. What this will entail depends heavily on the specific project and the unique child. However, generally speaking, children do not adapt to change as well as adults, and construction and materials may pose significant risks to unattended children. As such, it is important that parents pursuing a remodeling project are aware of their options for approaching the project with their children’s needs in mind.
Let Your Kids Get Involved
Children may feel more comfortable with big changes if they feel like they have some agency and input in the process. By giving them some decision-making power and letting them have a hand in the process, you may also positively influence your child’s self-esteem and creativity.
How the child can be involved in the project again depends on factors such as the nature of the project, the age of the child, and the child’s interests. However, you can often find some way for them to become involved, even if the contribution is small. Examples of ways you can get your children involved include:
Asking for their opinion on color schemes;
Asking for their opinion on decorations and accessories;
Weeding and gardening for landscaping projects;
Small construction tasks like tightening screws.
It can also be helpful to simply ask them questions throughout the process like, “What do you think of this color for your closet?” or “Where do you think this lamp would look good?” You may also find it helpful to describe what you are doing throughout the project, so that your child can better process the changes, and perhaps even learn some valuable information.
Schedule Around the Renovation
Renovations can cause a lot of stress for children due to the noise, the presence of strangers, and the limitations on the space they can use. Therefore, it will be helpful to schedule the majority of the renovations for times when the children are out of the house, such as school hours or times when they are at extracurricular activities. If you have to schedule regular blocks of time for renovations rather than choosing times on a day-to-day basis, consider when the children are most likely to be out of the house when selecting a regular time slot for the work.
To this end, it will be important to discuss scheduling estimates such as start dates and end dates with contractors, so that you can better align the project with your child’s schedule. You should also consider factors such as when children are most likely to sleep and study so that they are not disrupted during this time.
Keep Them Entertained
It won’t always necessarily be possible to schedule major renovations for when the children are away from home. In these cases, it may be helpful to distract them with activities. Ideally, these activities should take place in an area that is completely separated from the area being renovated, both to avoid interference with the project and to preserve the safety of the children. Quiet activities such as reading are not ideal for children during a renovation, as the sounds from the renovation may be distracting and frustrating. Good activities to keep the children occupied can include:
Always ensure that you have a good understanding of how long the project will take and what it will entail beforehand. This will allow you to better understand what measures you should take to best suit your family. You may have to readjust what rooms are used for what, or even secure temporary housing.
Communication Is Key
As mentioned, children may adjust to change better if they understand the change and are involved in it. As such, it will be helpful to explain to your children what is going to happen beforehand, and to also explain what is happening in every phase of the process. It is also vital that you ensure that children understand safety risks and expectations regarding safety. Regardless of whether the project involves significant construction or a simple painting job, there are likely to be many hazards for children. As much as possible, make safety rules regarding the project clear and specific, e.g. “Do not enter this room,” or “Do not touch tools without permission.”
Stick to Your Regular Routine
Keeping a routine as much as possible can help maintain a sense of normalcy in your child’s life. Therefore, you should seek to keep their existing routine as much the same as possible, and to introduce new routines where it is not possible. This could be difficult and involve significant adjustments, but it is worth it to maintain a sense of stability in your child’s life.
Educate Your Children On What’s Happening
Supplementary educational materials such as age-appropriate books and websites can help children better understand and process what is happening. You may even be able to supplement this education with activities that emulate elements of the renovation project.
Don’t Forget to Take Time for Yourself
While trying to carry out your home renovation project and do your best to help your children navigate it, don’t forget about your own needs. You won’t be able to face these challenges as successfully if you are not taking care of yourself as well. Consciously practice self-care, even if it is in small things like taking a walk, going on a date night, or getting some extra sleep.