How to balance home improvement and family is a topic that never crossed my mind until almost two years ago when our daughter was born. Now that there is a third micro-member of our household, it’s been a real struggle to find the time for home improvement. I have become so desperate for time on the house, that I have actually been spending part of my normal office workday on house projects. I used to crank away on house projects any evening and from Saturday morning to Sunday night. While that is still theoretically possible, I risk wife meltdown if she does all the care of our daughter for the whole weekend. In the interests of marriage preservation, we have come up with a few handy strategies.
Here are five essential tips for bringing family and home improvement into alignment:
1) One solution we have found useful (devised after an aforementioned meltdown), is to plan a schedule for the weekend where home improvement time is balanced with an equal or near equal amount of family time, and/or time for your significant other. It can be a little tricky breaking projects into blocks of 2 or 3 hours, but the resultant family harmony makes it well worth it for us. Schedule things in advance so everyone is on the same page.
2) Engage your little one(s) in house projects. Obviously, having a two year old run the chop saw probably isn’t a great plan (don’t worry, it wasn’t plugged in for the picture). But age-appropriate help can be fun for everyone. Our daughter surprised me recently by helping pick up branches from a bush I was digging up, and placed them in the trash. She’s 20 months old, so this bodes well for future child labor! Start ’em early!
3) Plan fun evenings or a day or two away from home improvement. This is crucial for everyone’s morale. Otherwise home improvement can easily feel like it’s taking over your life. It probably has taken over your life, but it does not have to feel that way.
4) Try to isolate family/living space from the project at hand. Sometimes this isn’t possible, however some projects are mobile. Keeping the mess out of the living area is safer for everyone, and can help messy projects feel livable. We put up a temporary wall in part of our kitchen during a recent remodel to keep a clear separation of construction/non-construction areas.
5) Focus on projects that benefit the family. Sure, you want that chrome-filled man-cave or that topiary sculpting bench, but sometimes a project like fixing a toilet is a project everyone can get behind (or on top of).
I would love to see some discussion about what solutions have worked for you in the struggle for home improvement and balancing family life. Help us all avoid significant-other-meltdown and share your thoughts!