While the kids and I were recently away in Canada for a couple weeks, my hubby and a few amazing helpers did a TON of work on our house extension. When I left, it looked like this:
And when we returned, voila!
And that’s just one room! We’ve been living in a construction zone since Christmas, and while I am happy for the space we’ll be gaining through this extension, I have to say that building / renovating a home (especially while you’re living in it) can be quite draining. You have less privacy as tradesmen constantly come in and out, dust creeps into every little corner, and saws and drills make noise while the kids (or yourself!) are trying to nap.
We know it’s all worth it though! Throughout these renovations, I couldn’t help but notice a few parallels to raising kids:
- It is a long-term process and requires a vision of the “end product.” As I mentioned, the parts of renovations that are inconvenient when you’re trying to continue living life in a home can lead to frustration unless you remind yourself of what you’re gaining. In the same way, raising kids requires us to ask the question, “What kind of ADULT do I want to see my child become?“ Though the mess of toys on the floor or the squabbling siblings or getting supper on the table seems urgent at the moment, these things are not the final goal of parenting. Our kids will leave our “nest” one day and be on their own, and it is our job now to train them for that.
- Some days you see progress, some days you don’t. After the electrician had been at our house working for an entire day, I asked my husband, “So…what exactly did we pay him to do?” His work was behind the scenes, wiring and laying cables and installing things in the basement that we will probably never think about again. It was much more fun watching the carpenter weeks earlier, where we could see walls being put up and visualize the rooms taking shape, but I know that I will be just as thankful for light switches and plug-ins as I am for the walls!
In motherhood, we aren’t always immediately able to see the fruit of our labor. But we keep going even on the days we don’t think we’re getting anywhere. It is important to learn to celebrate the little victories. Sure our toddler might have a tough time sharing, but applaud him for asking for his toy back instead of ripping it out of his sister’s hands. Even if you feel disconnected from your teen, enjoy the 5 minute talk you can have with them in the car on the way home from school. While we need to keep the big picture in mind, we also need to acknowledge baby steps as success.
- Sometimes it seems like you’re backtracking, but don’t get discouraged. Since the doors we bought for our new rooms weren’t in stock and had to be ordered, we went a few weeks with no means of keeping out the dust and noise. Before setting up the new play corner, I dumped ALL of the toys into the bathtub, thoroughly washing them to get all the dust off. By the end of the week there was an entirely new layer of dust over EVERYTHING and I could have cried. So much work, but all in vain.
Moms, you know that “we’ve been through this before” feeling. Maybe your child is potty-trained but had an accident. Maybe you got your teen into doing chores but suddenly they refuse again. Maybe you thought your baby was sleeping through the night but now you’re up every 2 hours nursing again. Remember that whatever you are going through right now is only a phase, and it WILL pass.
- Sometimes you have to take things apart before you can build them up again. A year ago we completely renovated our bathroom. But since one side of the bathroom was on the outer wall of the house, we had to take it apart in order to build the addition. Watching the wall get ripped off that we had worked so hard on a year ago felt frustrating, but I knew that unless the old was destroyed, the new wouldn’t work.
There are times in motherhood where we wish we could just plough forward, that our kids would catch onto new concepts, that we could implement new structures and routines in our homes. But all that first requires acknowledging that something isn’t working, or that something better is possible. It’s hard, but we can’t let ourselves hang onto unhealthy structures or unhelpful routines just because change seems like too much work.
- Sometimes things get dirty. Building a house is messy, raising kids is messy. Kids make mistakes, parents may fail, feelings are hurt and tears are shed. But the good news is, it can all be cleaned up again. And the more you keep up with cleaning, the easier it is. If I go a couple of weeks without mopping the floor, when I finally do get around to it it takes me 3 times as long because of all the layers of dirt. Check for “messy spots” in your relationship with your kids (and your hubby!) on a regular basis, and don’t let “dirt” build up. It is always worth it to prioritize relationships over responsibilities in your home.
- It requires you to pay attention to details and make intentional decisions. If you are not intentional now, you may be frustrated or disappointed later. When my brother-in-law asked where we wanted outlets installed in each room, I wasn’t in “decision mode” so I basically just nodded to his suggestions. Well now that most of the electrical work is done there are a few spots I wish we had done differently…and we could have, had I taken the time back then to pay attention.
We moms know how easy it can be to “give in” to our kids just to keep the peace for a few minutes. But if we continue to respond to their whininess and disrespect, we will later regret it. Instead, we need to be intentional with setting boundaries and expectations (for our kids and for ourselves).
Well, my friends, I wish you grace to BUILD WELL as you invest into the lives of your precious kiddos!