A question I get asked quite often is “How do you manage the renovation with all the other stuff going on in your life?” and I often have to stop and think… what else is going on in my life other than kids and work??…I mean this renovation IS my life.
Sad as it may seem it is actually 100% true. There’s many reasons for this, the biggest being the fact that we are doing it all ourselves on a teeny budget. The sheer amount of time it takes to make all the decisions, double-check the decision and then choose all the things you need and want in your renovation is unbelievable. This is a full-time job for most people and yet here we are doing it in our “spare time”.
To counter this and to try to share the load, Jon and I have developed very clearly defined roles. We didn’t set out for it to be this way, more it happened naturally over time but they are definitely there. He is the contractor – he deals with all the workmen, the building department, the supplies and the budget. It takes up a considerable amount of his time and he is always out on the site first thing in the morning before we set off for work laying out the required tasks for the day with Adrian or whoever we have working on the house that day. He then fields calls during the day whilst managing his real job, plus he travels a lot with work and so is often doing this from far afield. Have you ever tried managing a building project from 6,000 miles away? Its pretty tough. At night he dives into excel spread sheets to add in all the receipts from the suppliers or he’s emailing sub-contractors like the roofing guy to get them to commit to a date so we keep moving forward.
And my role? I am the client. I decide what’s going where, what I want the lights to be, where I want them. I spend hours on the internet looking at room inspiration and ideas and home decor sites. I drive myself crazy with paint options until forced to make a decision. I make the choice between having a steam shower or a tub which sounds like the fun bit but can be quite the paralyzing experience as there’s just so much choice. I have to get it right because we are only getting one shot at this and we can’t afford financially for it to be wrong. I spend my weekends in tile showrooms with two kids hanging off me trying to make a fast decision because they are bored. I do my best to keep kids entertained and out-of-the-way on the days that dad has to work on the house. And when Jon is away on business I try to help in the communications with the sub-contractors tho I’m often just in the way! And then I try to document it all here.
Yes, sometimes it feels like we are living separate lives whilst working towards the same goal, and in that way it can feel kind of lonely. So how do you counter these feelings when its a necessary evil in order to move forward? Well understand that it’s just how life is here and now, and that it wont be like this forever. We remind each other that the house will get finished. One day we will have hobbies again, and be free to work out, and entertain our friends because we will have that elusive thing called “spare income and time”! We will attend parties & playdates together and not as a single unit because the other half is “installing window flashing” or something random like that. And soon, when we get to go out to mingle with other folks, we will be able to engage in topics of conversation other than those featuring the words house & renovation. One day I will even be up to date with current affairs and I’m not just talking People magazine here y’all!!
My other big tip is to try to keep one day “sacred” even tho it means things wont always get finished and you will have to be ok with that. Every Sunday, we take this one precious day together and do something as a family, anything fun for the kids. We don’t talk about the house, or even do anything for it – we simply just enjoy the day hiking or going to the beach and 100% focus our attention on our two gorgeous boys.
Dont forget about your relationship too. As a couple we try to have regular date nights (or I highly recommend doing date lunches during the working week!) and we force ourselves to talk about anything other than the house…which isn’t always easy when there are decisions to be made.
And finally plan something fun to look forward to. Everybody needs it, whatever it is. For me its going on a vacation. So even tho money is beyond tight – we plan a year ahead and we save a bit at a time so that there is this glimmer of something fun to look forward too, some time somewhere new. Because lets face it at some point you WILL need to escape your house.
Its been 18 months and counting for us, and yes it does feel like the longest marathon race ever, but the end is finally in sight and the victory will taste oh so sweet once we do finish. And then I will probably have to do something crazy to fill the void left behind!