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Renovating with kids – survival tips

Many parents out there – especially those with toddlers – will roll their eyes at the prospect of renovating with children in the home.

The overall process of renovation is notorious for putting even the most resilient of marriages on a rocky footing – so why complicate things further I hear you say?

Well for a start, absconding on holiday for three weeks while your home is being remodelled is not an option for most of us. How many family or friends are willing (or have the space) to play host for the duration of a major reno?

So face it – if you want that dream kitchen/bathroom/loft conversion most of us are going to have to hunker down and work out a plan. Planning how you handle the kids is as important as scheduling your trades or getting your budget sorted. I am not saying it will all be plain sailing – what reno is?

These tips can help you (and your children) through the inevitable hurdles ahead.

Safety First

Your foremost concern with any renovation project should the safety of your family. This is especially relevant with regard to younger children – toddlers with naturally inquisitive minds will naturally ring alarm bells. Toddlers are unlikely to understand the concept of safety – or the danger posed by exposed electrical wiring for example. The easiest way to ensure their safety is to eliminate access to the work zone completely. We used a stair/safety gate in the doorway of our kitchen as a barrier when it was getting renovated which proved very effective.

And even if you are using low VOC paint – make sure all this, and any other chemicals are totally inaccessible, preferably locked away. If you have a playpen then this can serve as a handy, instant ‘no-go’ zone for anything you don’t want your children to get their grubby little hands on.

Make it Fun!

Above all try turn any inconvenience that you and your family may face into something fun! If your kids are attracted by all the cool tools on site why not get them a few toy replicas so they feel part of the project? And if you are worried about them ruining their clothes, kit them out in something old – trust me, they will ruin them forever! Another top tip to keep everyone smiling is to schedule time away from the site – a trip to a park or beach reminds everyone that there is life away from your reno project.

My two-year-old daughter absolutely loves it when I make her part of any renovation task – however small or insignificant it may appear. I recently gave our kitchen a fresh coat of paint and got her to paint the fridge recess – an area where any spills or iffy workmanship are not that important . Result: she now tells everyone that, “I helped my daddy paint the kitchen”. And she also got a valuable first lesson on how to stroke a brush. If you are working on outdoor projects – landscaping or gardening – kids love getting their hands dirty, especially if there is water and mud involved – preferably both. I am also fortunate that my elder daughter is something of a compulsive tidier – an erratic trait admittedly – so piles of rubbish are promptly spirited into bins. Until she gets bored…


Realistically some renos are likely to last weeks, if not longer if you are building. You need to consider the impact of this on your children – some cope better with change than others. My eldest daughter loved the novelty of having trades visiting – it helped that they were child-friendly and always gave her a high five every morning. Take the time to prepare your children for any disruptions to their schedule and try keep core routines – meals and bath times – as unchanged as possible.

Bottom line – don’t be intimidated by the prospect of renovating with children. Your kids will love you for it and you might just have fun in the process!

– this post was supplied by Craig Gibson
Editor of

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  1. Thanks for the tips. When we were renovating my toddler kept calling the builder Bob! He kept calling out ‘whatcha doin’ Bob?”. Honestly I don’t think the builder could understand him – thank goodness.



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