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How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation with Kids

Your kitchen is one of the toughest rooms in your home to renovate, creating an inconvenience and mess unparalleled by other areas of the house. Many kitchen renovations call for ripping out ceilings, walls, floors, fixtures and appliances, which creates large amounts of dirt and dust. And when you have children, renovating your kitchen is even tougher. Kids need to be safe and well-fed, which are two difficult tasks to accomplish when your kitchen is being ripped apart.

When my husband and I decided to finally renovate the kitchen in our 1885 home, we knew we needed to come up with a cohesive plan to accommodate our four young children during the process. From having enough healthy food on hand to avoid takeout every night to keeping the baby’s bottles sterile, it took a serious effort on our part to keep things running without going crazy. We encountered all sorts of obstacles that sometimes made me want to give up before we’d even started, but along the way I learned some kitchen remodeling tips that made the process go much more smoothly. Use these pointers when undergoing a kitchen renovation with kids to make the process as safe and smooth as it can possibly be.

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Know What Potential Toxins Exist

Before you start any home renovations, it’s important to be aware of what materials may be lurking in ceilings, floors and walls. The older your home is, the more likely you are to encounter harmful substances. Test for toxins like lead paint, asbestos, certain types of insulations and even chemically treated wood. When you start your renovation, particles from these harmful materials will be released inside your home, and you and your children will breathe them in. If you have harmful substances in your kitchen, have them professionally removed, ventilate well and keep your family out of the house until they’re gone to minimize health risks.

Have a Clear Plan

While you can never plan for every eventuality in a kitchen renovation, the more you prepare ahead of time, the smoother the renovation will go. Work out decisions from the types of appliances and countertop materials to smaller details like cabinet hardware before you start. If you know what you want before you begin instead of making decisions as you go, you can shorten your renovation time, which may save your sanity when accommodating children during this process.

Renovate in Stages

If you’re doing most of the work yourself, it’s helpful to complete your kitchen renovation in manageable chunks instead of all at once. This will minimize the disruption and enable you to still use parts of your kitchen throughout the process. My husband and I decided to redo one wall at a time and ripped out the ceiling before that. Working from the top down and then around the room meant that my appliances were working most of the time, I had some functional counter space and I was able to do basic cooking and baking throughout much of the renovation. Not only did this help me keep my home running while trying to feed six people, it cut down on costs because we were able to deal with small setbacks and surprises one at a time instead of all at once.

Create a Safe Barrier

Children are naturally curious and eager to help, but the last thing you want is kids underfoot when renovating a kitchen. There are lots of hazards during a project of this magnitude, from exposed electrical wires to stray nails. It’s important to stress the dangers with your children, but it’s also best to physically keep them away from the project however you can. Whether you can safely block off the area with a locking gate or keep your children in another room or area of your home, it’s a good idea to set up a safe place for them to play for the duration of your kitchen renovation.

Renovate In Warm Weather

When you renovate your kitchen in the warmer months, you can keep windows open for ventilation and let the kids play outside, away from the dirt and noise. Remodeling a kitchen in the colder months means the kids are cooped up inside while you’re trying to work, increasing the stress and potential for accidents. When kids can spend more time outdoors, it makes the renovation easier on everyone; they can escape the mess and you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt.

Set Up a Well-Stocked Temporary Kitchen

Kids need meals and snacks, and when they’re hungry, they crash quickly. The last thing you want is for your child to begin a hunger-induced meltdown while the food is out of reach during a phase of renovation. Before you begin your kitchen renovation, choose a convenient spot in your home where you can set up a temporary kitchen. Depending on the extent of the kitchen remodel, you may only need food and drinks, or you may need small appliances too.

A laundry room, guest room, or even dry corner of the basement can suffice as a temporary kitchen space. Gather together a mini refrigerator for milk, juice and produce, a microwave to cook and heat meals, a toaster or toaster oven for pastries, waffles and more, and a coffeemaker to fuel you through the process. Keep convenient foods on hand like juice boxes, baby carrots, sliced fruit, cereal bars, crackers and other healthy snacks. Having these foods easily accessible will keep your kids happy and help you keep it together when your kitchen is turned upside-down.

Get Support From Family and Friends

When things get really messy, you’ll probably want to just get out of the house with the kids before you all start to lose it. As my husband tore out our ceiling, covering the surrounding area in a haze of potentially harmful dust, I decided the best thing to do was to pack up my kids and head for Grandma’s. We have spent a few weekends away at my mom’s house during the particularly messy parts of the renovation, which has been helpful for everyone. I can rest easy knowing the kids aren’t being exposed to harmful materials, we can keep up a regular routine in a house that isn’t being ripped apart, and the kids can enjoy playing without being surrounded by a mess and extra noise. Whether you have a friend down the road or family close by, sometimes it’s best to know when to say when and take the kids somewhere else entirely.

Kitchen renovations with kids are never easy, but if you take the time to plan before you start, yours will go much more smoothly in the long run. And when you feel like you may lose it from the stress, just remember that it will all be worth it when you and the kids can gather together in your beautiful new kitchen.

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