Where The Heart Is

They say home is where the heart is, but I think adults tend to forget this. Children know it though. My daughter certainly does. She referred to our townhouse as a mansion. I almost laughed, but that’s because she sees what I don’t. Love fills all 1,800 square feet, not fancy furniture or fixtures for sure. These last few weeks my home has been undergoing some long-awaited renovations, turning our finished basement into a master suite. Here’s what I hope my kids will have learned from the process:

The plans for our basement renovations that we drew in 2013.

The plans for our basement renovations that we drew in 2013.

1. Sometimes You Have To Wait A LONG Time For What You Want – My husband have been discussing what to do with our basement since we bought our house 10 years ago. It has been a playroom, man cave and an exercise room. None of these ideas took root. Then two years ago when we FINALLY agreed to try for baby #3 we knew what we really needed – a 3rd bedroom and the planning began. We purchased materials along and along as we could afford it. We waited till we got our tax refund this year and hired a contractor to turn our plans into reality. It’s been really exciting watching the transformation and it still seems surreal that it is complete.

2. Choices Have Trade-Offs – This is the lesson most adults can’t grasp, let alone kids. This will be the third year since becoming a SAHM where we will not be going away on vacation. The priorities have been to pay off debt and now build this third bedroom for our family. There were times I questioned whether or not we should pay off a loan early before this renovation, but now Sydney is getting to the age where I know we’ll all sleep better if she has a room of her own. I look forward to sleep training about as much as a root canal, but I can’t wait for the sweet relief of having a full night’s sleep once again.

3. Fix It Before You Throw It Away – Our kids are growing up in probably the most disposable age in history. If it’s broken, you toss it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my kids not to step on their toys or they might break. A glazed look comes over their little faces until I tell them that perhaps they don’t need any more toys if they can’t treat the ones they have with respect.

I’ve had well-meaning friends and family ask me repeatedly when I’ll be moving into a “real” house or a “bigger” house. If I’m in a particularly bad mood I might say, “when you pay the mortgage for me.” Moving isn’t really an option, but even if it were I would have missed out on this opportunity to fall in love with my house again. New carpet and paint, and a re-purposed space have given me new appreciation for what I already have. That’s the best lesson my kids could learn.

Our finished master suite after years of dreaming and planning was totally worth the wait!

Our finished master suite after years of dreaming was totally worth the wait!

The Bigger The Better

A lot of times, we get swept up into the mantra of, “the bigger, the better.” We forget that it comes with a higher price tag, and more sacrifices to make whether that’s time spent with our families, fewer trips, more debt, higher cost of living, and worst of all- feeding the monster. Once you feed “the bigger, better monster” he just gets hungrier and that is good for no one. One of my favorite lessons from this renovation process has been, “sometimes when you think you have a space problem, what you really have is a stuff problem.”