Tips for Surviving a Reno with Kids

Parenting Advice and Answers

So you’ve finally saved enough for that gleaming master bathroom, chef’s kitchen, or total overhaul of your 80’s bungalow. Let the fun of picking finishes and transforming your vision begin!

We can’t promise the countertops will be installed on time, or the backsplash tile from Italy won’t arrive one square-foot short, but we can help you survive renovation realities with kids – and prevent your dream home from becoming a nightmare. Just follow these tips and you’ll be relaxing in front of your new fireplace in no time.

Get your finances in order

Hopefully you won’t have to experience the unforeseen shock of discovering mold or structural issues mid-reno, but chances are you’ll run into some unexpected expenses along the way. While those expenses could be the stunning $1,000 farmhouse sink you must have instead of the stainless steel version for $250, you should be financially prepared for anything.

Before you get started, figure out your budget, get your finances in order, and include an emergency fund – just in case you need to dip a little deeper into those pockets. The last thing you want is to run out of money partway through your project and cause longer delays.

Let the sun shine in

Spring and summer are the best times to do any major renovations for a number of reasons. You can open your screen doors and windows to let smells and dust out, reduce the mess from in-and-out traffic, and most importantly, you can send your kids outside.

If the kids are outside playing whenever possible, that means they are avoiding the chaos and potential hazards from chemicals and building materials that will inevitably be left out.

One at a time

Ideally, don’t tackle it all at once. Deciding to overhaul every corner of your house at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Yes, some jobs, like installing new hardwood floors, are a one-shot deal, but wherever possible, focus on one room at a time. That way, the kids can continue their day-to-day schedule without too many complications or distractions.

Keep it contained

It’s gonna get messy, that’s for sure. But there are measures you can take to keep the mess somewhat in check. Put down drop-cloths when workers are in the home to avoid muddy shoes on carpets and floors when they’re hauling deliveries in and out. Tape and seal up doors to keep dust from spreading to every nook and cranny, and make it clear which rooms are off-limits to the kids from the get-go.

Make it fun

Now is the time for picnics in the backyard, surprise trips to a kid-friendly restaurant for dinner, and doing crazy things like washing your dishes with the garden hose! If you put in a little effort and get creative, this hectic time in your life can be turned into a chance to make memories that the kids won’t soon forget.

It’s still your home

Kids thrive on routine and the comforts of home, so there’s no doubt any sort of renovation project will cause at least a little bit of upheaval. Make sure they still have a proper play space that’s theirs, and if they want to grab an apple or snack – they can. So what if your fridge is in the living room, and you’re making mac and cheese on a hot plate in the bathroom?

Think outside the house

Yes, of course, a brand new kitchen definitely falls under the category of ‘treating yourself’. But if signing your kids up for lunchtime programs at school or day camp, boarding your pet at a doggie daycare temporarily, or checking into a nearby hotel for a night while your popcorn ceilings are stripped away makes your life that much easier, consider it an investment in your sanity.

Move on out

Seriously. Depending on the size and scale of your reno, the best solution could be to evacuate your home. Bonus points for finding someone close by to take you in so the kids’ schedules aren’t disrupted, and so you can easily check on daily progress at the house.

Plan for things not to go according to plan

You know that saying about the best laid plans? Well, when it comes to renovations, that’s certainly true. In real life, you may be the mom who loves shoes to be neatly lined up at the door, but in RenoLand, follow the advice of a princess wise beyond her years and let it go.

Focus on the excitement of the finished project – not the stress of getting there – and before you know it, you’ll be styling your new built-ins and fluffing pillows in your dream space!

Have your own reno survival tips or a funny story to share? We want to hear it! Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Sheri Helman is a suburban mom of two with a zest for life that knows no bounds. When she’s not balancing her career in PR and side biz as a freelance writer, you can find her cooking up a storm (and praying her family will eat it!), at the ‘barre’, planning her next home décor project, coordinating the next girls night out, blogging about The Bachelor and making memories with her husband and kids. She’s written a lot of great content in her head – she just needs to find the time to get it out of there and onto your screen. Check out the stuff she’s managed to type out at and twitter @SheriHelman.


If you are doing major home renovations, or just need a few hours to clean the house, visit our directory to find great Toronto Childcare Providers, Camps for Kids, and great After School Programs for Kids.

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