By Polly Bart and Sara Barnett
A child’s scope can be limited to a few spaces – their bedroom, preschool, or a grandparent’s house. When this important space undergoes a change, it may seem that their whole world is being turned upside down. While choosing details for the renovation may seem the top priority, keeping children comfortable and happy in a home renovation is even more important.
There are several ways to do this…
Depending on the age and interests of the child. Children may be excited about the changes you have told them will happen, or they may feel their home is just fine the way it is. Keeping kids involved and explaining the renovation in ways which make sense for a child’s eye view can make the experience fun and educational instead of disorienting.
Keep kids involved
A good way to start is with a simple explanation of what is going to happen, in very specific terms. If there are drawings, invite your children to explore the drawings with you. If you don’t have drawings, make a sketch of your floor plan showing where the work will take place. Ask children if they can figure out where they are in the drawing. Older children can check measurements. Younger children can treasure hunt to find different rooms in the house on the drawing. This exercise encourages children to see the space as something which can be designed and changed, and the exercise has other educational aspects which you can develop as time and your kids’ interests permit. This creates a spatial understanding of the project.
Create games that educate and explain what’s going on
To create a stronger sense of the time line of the project, you or the contractor can make up a set of cards with the various stages of the project: demo, framing, rough in, flooring, painting, etc. Ask your kids to arrange the cards or pieces of paper in the order they think the actions will be done. You can correct and explain. This is a good time to invite the kids to think about all the important things which can be found inside walls. Did we mention that you, the parents, may also find the exercise fun and informative?
Let Kids Contribute and Help Out
Once the project is ready to begin, ask your kids to document it with photos and notes which they can share on social media, or keep in a scrapbook.
During the project, there should be a couple of times when carefully supervised activities can let kids participate in the construction. Your judgement of the ages and abilities of your kids will determine what you are comfortable with, but anyone can hold a paintbrush, remove a tile, or apply a little spackle to drywall. Pick an area which will be covered later, or preserve the kids work, as you choose. We are suggesting two or three workshops for your kids, lasting no more than an hour, with intense supervision and assistance from you and from the professionals onsite. It will be worth it.
The safety of very bright, inquisitive, energetic kids is on the mind of every contractor, especially keeping the home safe when we are not on site. We find it best to pro-actively involve the whole family so everyone stays happy and secure. If it’s their project too, your children will usually follow the rules, especially if they’ve had the chance to work side by side with a carpenter who is obviously very skilled and who serves as an example by putting safety first. Furthermore, most kids will drop their electronic gadgets instantly if offered the chance to help demolish something …
Examples of Safe Construction
What are some examples of safe construction activities? We use Bonded Logic recycled blue jean insulation instead of fiberglass. It is safe and easy to handle and is installed by simply patting it into place between the joists. A young man doing that for what will be his mother’s study will always feel a special pride in that room.
If there’s any demo which is safe — for example pulling loose tile off a wall, the idea that your child is being permitted and encouraged to tear something apart will bring a huge smile. Like the featured image above.
Take your kids on a field trip at some point during the project to a site where something is happening which they will find fascinating. Favorite Greenbuilders trips have been to select the plants for a green roof. Emory Knoll Farms (www.greenroofplants.com) is a great field trip. One family drove to the facility where their countertops would be fabricated. While the adults helped lay out the countertops so the seams and quartz strips would be exactly right, the kids were given a tour of the facility by helpful staff members. You and your contractor can figure out the most fun trip for your kids’ interests and level of attention, something which you will enjoy as well.
Your children will share this new knowledge with friends and family. A home renovation can provide excellent learning opportunities children may not otherwise have.
A Funny Story
In one of the sweetest kid collaboration moments we remember, we were called in to replace a child’s bedroom ceiling that had gotten wet and fallen. Even after the work had been completed, the four year old was still not entirely comfortable about staying in her room for the night. Together with the parents, we asked her if she would like a mural on her ceiling and would she like to design it? She happily said yes and she and her slightly older sister collaborated on a simple drawing. Young naturalists, they were very precise that the herd of flying tortoises they had drawn had to be tortoises, NOT TURTLES. This sent Greenbuilders to the dictionary, and lo, a herd of flying Galapagos tortoises cavorts on the youngster’s ceiling. Needless to say, there was no question about her eagerness to spend her first night with her very own herd. Or would that be flock?
Kids Are An Important Part of The Renovation Equation
Greenbuilders, Inc. encourages child participation because they are part of the renovation story too. We want children to say “Oh guess what I got to help with today?” or “I got to see how this was made!” Getting children excited about the changes to their home will not only expose them to new experiences but will keep them happily comfortable and secure in their home during the renovation.
Your turn: Have any stories to share?
We’d love to hear about your experiences with kids getting to share in your renovation or remodeling projects. Post a comment or question below. Thanks for reading!