tips for renovating with children

The experience of renovating the shed has been great, and awful, and everything in between. The sproggets have been so patient with us. We have regularly told them,


“Don’t touch that!”

“Please wait, I’m busy right now.”


“In a minute…”

It has been challenging trying to find the balance between doing a huge amount of renovation work and trying to amuse the sproggets. The sproggets have certainly suffered for it some days and as we near the completion of the shed conversion we’re really hanging out for a weekend of just hanging out together as a family. A weekend of saying “YES!”, a weekend of playgrounds, long dog walks (the poor dog has also suffered a bit of emotional neglect while we’ve spent every waking moment scrubbing, painting, bashing out, building, patching, drilling, sawing, connecting etc.), reading books together, dancing together & generally having fun without any renovation jobs hanging over our heads. We need some time to reconnect, all of us. This experience has been stressful overall. Living in someone else’s house, people who live so very differently to us, havingĀ  a huge amount of work to do in a short space of time, pressuring ourselves to get it done so we can get in there, so we can live in our own space, in our own way, again.

I thought I’d share some tips for renovating with young children (remember ours are nearly 4yrs & 18 months old)… Things we’ve found useful on the days where we did manage to strike that balance between getting the job done & keeping the children happy.


1. Buy toys from the op-shop to have in the space. Don’t spend heaps, they’ll get covered in paint, they’ll be played with outside, they’ll get trashed.*

2. Let your children help whenever it’s safe – give them a paint brush & let them paint a section of the wall, if you’re worried about drips let them paint in the fridge recess or somewhere that will be hidden and go over it with a roller after them. Let them sit on your lap while you’re drilling something at a low height. Let them climb the ladder in front of you if it’s safe. You know? Just try to say “Yes” to requests to help as often as you can, even if it means the task takes a little longer.

3. Have “work clothes” for the children, just like you do for yourself – pretty obvious really, but worth mentioning because even if you don’t give them a paint brush they’ll definitely get covered in paint!

4. The playpen is your friend! Not for your children… no! Paint buckets, dangerous tools, anything you don’t want the children getting in to while your back is turned – all of it goes in the playpen.

5. Keep chemicals up high, in a locked room, anywhere that is out of reach of the children – another obvious one but probably the most important one. We didn’t use many chemicals, we used no-VOC paint & natural, food safe oils for wood, but still… it’s just good to keep it away from small folk.

6. There are two types of tools. Tools that the children can’t use (they’re dangerous &/or they’re expensive &/or they’re work tools) and the tools that the children can use (the small hammer you bought especially for them because it’s the right size (naaawww), the cheap & (relatively) safe tools – paint brushes with or without paint, screwdrivers (with supervision!), sandpaper blocks etc.)

7. Stop regularly for food & water (& breastfeeding) breaks. This is an important one for YOU as well. Eat regularly, it will vastly improve everyone’s mood to have full bellies & stable blood sugar levels. Eat in the sunshine if you can. Take a proper food break, rather than eating on the go. Those regular breaks mean more productive bursts between them.

8. Sometimes you’ve just got to drop everything and find a playground!

I’m sure there’s others I’m not thinking of right now, but these are the small considerations we found useful over the 6 weeks we’ve been renovating for. That’s 6 weeks of all day every Saturday & Sunday with lots of evening work as well. Evenings we’ve tag teamed the renovation work & the parenting work if one or both of the sprogs were still awake. When they were both asleep we’d set up a skype call between our bedroom & the shed so we could see & hear them, as they woke one of us would make our way down to the bedroom immediately to tend to their needs.

So, have you renovated with children? We’re not quite finished yet, we’ve another couple of weekends full of renovating ahead of us so please share any tips you could add to this list.


* we wouldn’t have thought of this one ourselves. MIL bought some toys for the children at a garage sale, plastic junk we’d not have chosen, for them to play with while we stay with them. These are the toys that migrated up to the shed for the renovation phase & they have been so immensely helpful in keeping the sproggets amused while we renovate.

posted by wildecrafted in home and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “tips for renovating with children”

  1. trishalishous says:

    excellent tip about the playpens!
    When I bought ours hubby was VERY negative, until I showed him that my art and sewing stuff was going in there – not our baby!
    It works so well, and every one is happy!

    • Kimberley says:

      Yes, my Mum gave me that tip when Sprout was just starting to become a mobile baby. When we were little she put the Christmas tree in a playpen, so it made sense to put pots of paint & other dangerous bits in there so our freeranging kids could n’t get to it!


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