Having two babies, who are fully dependant on you, have very different needs and take up a lot of time is difficult enough as it is. Add a kitchen renovation whilst adjusting to being a two under two family and you will need tips, hacks, patience and lots of courage
1. Accept its going to take time.
Any timeframe expectations need to go out of the window if you are doing it yourself. When we started our kitchen, I was very heavily pregnant and my husband had two weeks annual leave to start the project. Naively, I thought the majority of the work would be done during this time. I WAS VERY, VERY WRONG. During the first week, the old kitchen was ripped out, the electrics redone (I wondered what the hell was going on for days, to me it looked like no progress whatsoever!) and we discovered asbestos tiles underneath the flooring which needed to be dealt with. We were actually 5 weeks without a dish washer, washing machine and sink. Children constantly throw curve balls into the equation and they massively slowed down the renovation progress. Unfortunately, it is what it is and sometimes family will have to come first.
2. Prep meals in advance
I prepped meals before the kitchen was ripped out and filled the freezer. I literally made as many meals as I could, particularly for Dilys. For us, I found chilli con carne to be one of the best meals, as it can be easily be served with microwave rice or jacket potatoes and still tastes delicious.
3. The slow cooker is your friend….
……and so is the George Forman. We also used the steamer for veg and the soup maker a few times. It’s amazing what you can make if you truly think about it, and sometimes you have to think outside of the box. The biggest help day to day was the microware. We are not a family who eats microwave meals, but we used it to heat up jacket spuds, microwave rice, tinned food like beans and our prepared meals. I also used some paper plates for sandwiches, small meals and snacks as they save on the washing up, which is helpful when you don’t have a sink. As we have a separate dining room we pushed the dining table against the wall and made a temporary kitchen with all of the equipment needed to survive the renovation.
4. Think of some meals in advance (make a list of ideas)
I can’t think at the best of times what I’d like to eat, and often find myself wandering around supermarkets with a head full of air looking for inspiration. During the kitchen renovation I would usually end up being in charge of meals and spent hours trying to think of what I could make, using what I had available to cook them. I started adding my favourites to a list on my phone which I found super helpful. My go to meals were my frozen meals from the freezer and cooked chickens from the hot counters in the supermarkets, served with salad or microwave rice.
5. Take Always & Eating out
Obviously, its easy to eat out and have take-away but when you’re in the middle of the renovation, the cost of a Chinese can be the same as the price of a new tap or a few plug sockets. We had the occasional take away, fish and chips are cheap and suitable for a toddler. We only ate out if we could find a voucher or discount code and tried to eat at home as much as we could to keep costs down.
6. Try to be nice to each other
Having babies is hard enough at the best of times. Chuck in a renovation, dust, no sink, no washing machine and a load of chaos and it’s hard to not let it take its toll on your relationship. We often found ourselves snapping at each other, through exhaustion and stress. We could always see when this was starting to happen and would down tools and go out for the day as family, or go for a meal to get away from the house and eat some proper food!
7. Empty your washing basket and keep on top of the washing
I knew at some point I would be losing the washing machine and with a toddler and a baby on the way we have a lot of washing! I made sure the basket was always empty and bought Dilys some extra nightwear and leggings to survive two weeks without going to the launderette. I’ve discussed in a previous post that I have a Lakeland drier so I only needed to wash the clothes in the launderette and I dried them at home which saved time and money.
8. Try not to stress.
A renovation of any kind is stressful and you really need to look after your mental health.
My husband had a lot going on, would worry about things as it was his first major DIY project and sometimes things would go wrong, but in hindsight, after a few phone calls, some advice or a bit of googling/head scratching he would figure it out. Just remember that problems get fixed, there’s normally a relatively simple solution and they are not worth the extra stress.
Take time out as a family and do nice things, one day away from the project won’t hold it up in the big scheme of things and time away from the house will do you all good.
Try to set some work hours and stick to them. I would often still hear my husband downstairs working at 2am but with two babies and a full-time job, that’s really not good! I think you’ve got to be sensible, accept that it’s going to take time and you are doing your best!