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This week we’re finishing up a fairly large home renovation and believe me when I say I’ll be so relieved when it’s over. Having major work done can be stressful enough, but throw three cooped up kids into the mix and I’m really testing the limits of my patience. Here are some tips to survive the renovation process with kids at home.

1. Stay Away From Home As Much As Possible – If I could have afforded to take the kids away on a mini-vacation and return when our home was all finished, I totally would have. It’s not just keeping the kids out of areas of the home that are being worked on that’s hard, it’s keeping them happy in the now limited space they’re allowed to be in. We put in hardwood flooring on our whole main level which includes the kitchen, dining and living space which is a large open concept floor plan.

When we remodeled our basement into our master bedroom a few years ago, it was MUCH easier on the family because we hardly ever used our basement anyway. With the majority of our living space restricted this time around, it’s been a lot harder. For the most part we’ve hunkered down in our master bedroom with all the kids until bedtime when we take them up to their rooms.

The thing that’s saved my sanity and theirs the most was getting out of the house. I was so grateful the older kids had school most of the week except for Friday. Thankfully, my neighbor was home on Friday and we spent the day hanging out there.

My advice for making the process as stress-free as possible is to get out of the house as much as you can. If you have the money, go on a little vacation, maybe stay with some friends or family or just take some short local trips to places you’ve been meaning to check out.


Our carpeted stairs got a makeover.

2. Keep Favorite Toys Accessible – The world would end if I didn’t have access to my two-year-old’s favorite doll Lisa. She literally MUST go everywhere with my child. Whatever your children’s must-have toys are, keep them accessible for them and you’ll both be a lot happier. My bedroom which had been a toy-free haven, has been covered in kids’ toys this week, but it’s a sanity saving must during a home renovation.

3. Back To Baby Gates – If you can’t keep your kids out of the house for the entire renovation, safety is a big concern. Even though we had stopped using baby gates a while ago, we borrowed a gate from a neighbor to put at the top of the stairs. This way the kids wouldn’t just come down on their own into the heart of the construction zone.


Living room before.



Living room after.

We used the baby monitor to tell when they got up in the morning and went and brought them safely downstairs. We also went and bought the kids slippers so that they wouldn’t hurt their toes on the subfloor before the new flooring went down. Whatever you can do to ensure they don’t accidentally get hurt on construction debris will not only keep them safe, it will help your stress levels tremendously.


Dinning room getting a new sliding glass door.

4. Prepare For More – Whenever you do a home renovation project you can count on two things. It’s going to cost more money and take more time than you originally planned. The best thing you can do for yourself and your kids is not give them a definitive date when the renovation will be over. Kids have a hard time waiting as it is and even harder time coping when things don’t go according to plan. Giving them a time frame of when your home and family routine will be back to normal is a better bet.


Kitchen before new flooring and cabinets getting new paint. Cabinets will also be getting new pulls.


Kitchen after.

Though it’s usually well worth it in the end, home renovation can be a stressful event for adults and kids alike. Making light of a stressful time can make it a lot easier. When we had to eat in our bedroom instead of the dining room, we had a picnic on a tarp. The kids thought it was fun and not worrying about the kids dropping food on the new carpet we put in a year ago made me a less stressed out mommy. Playing games or watching movies as a family can help ease tensions from being cramped up in smaller spaces. Happy renovating!

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.


A strange phenomenon happens sometime between your late 20s and early 30s. You start watching shows on HGTV where home envy runs rampant. Buying homes, selling homes, renovating homes, and on and on. Once you’re a homeowner you find yourself drawn to these shows either for purely voyeuristic purposes (doesn’t everyone want to see what houses on the Island of Tahiti look like?) or you’re looking to cure your home woes.

House Poor

I remember distinctly the moment I knew for certain I was house poor. My husband and I bought our townhouse at 24 and 25 respectively when all the rentals we looked at made our two bedroom apartment with black mold lining the wall look like the Hilton. Six months after we bought and winter settled here in the mountains, I came home from work one day, exhausted, frustrated and positively broke. I stood crying in my living room because I knew my house was making me poor.

The cost of the heating and utilities was a shock since our apartment had included all of that in the rent. Slowly over time we started to earn more money and it wasn’t so bad, but boy did it made me realize just how much we suffer for the biggest purchase of our lives – our homes. Buying a house is like marriage in many ways. It takes a LOT of work to maintain and some people find it difficult to hold onto that loving feeling they once had for their homes.

Love It or List It

Love It or List It

On that note, enter HGTV’s show Love It or List It. Home owners work with both a designer to renovate their existing home so it better suits their needs and a realtor who shows them new houses in the hopes of convincing them that moving is really the answer to their problems. I’m completely drawn to this show and I see the two hosts in my head like the proverbial angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I don’t know if I’m the only one that watches the show, and wants to punch out the homeowners every time they whine and complain to each of the two hosts trying to help them. It takes the term ungrateful to a whole new level and sometimes I wonder if they are told to act like that to build the show’s drama.

Who Doesn’t Want Their Dream Home?

There are very few episodes in which the home renovations meet every item on the home owners wish list, even though the renos are absolutely breathtaking and often solve some of the biggest issues for them. The homeowners often give the designer a budget of $40,000 – $50,000 and at the same time give the realtor a budget of a good $60,000 – $100,000 over what their current home costs and I sit back and watch transfixed until the last few minutes when the couple must decide to love their home with its renovations and also some flaws or choose a brand new home that checks every item off their wish list.

Home Ownership Is Like Marriage

I find myself cheering when the couple decides to love their home again instead of going into debt to get that bigger, better dream home. I know in my heart how the spin off show to those who choose to list it goes.  Fast forward a few years and that loving feeling they had for their dream home has faded and flaws are found where they once only saw perfection. Yes home ownership is a sort of marriage. Without the commitment to love what you have, imperfections and all, you’ll never be happy.

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