Notes from a construction zone

As you may know, we have moved our belongings but our house is not quite ready to live in aside from a camping situation. Our boxes are stacked in the shed, loosely categorized by the room that they are destined for. This means when I need a wire whisk I can usually find it after about a half hour of sleuthing through the stacks. The bedrooms are very nearly finished, but the main living area is still quite raw. I’ve been observing a few things that might be helpful for someone else. Here they are in no particular order.

  • Dirt. You might as well get very comfortable with it. The construction zone comes with invisible gremlins that puff out dirt when you’re not looking.
  • Children. Keep random children around and hand them the broom at any time of the day in any space. There will always be a gratifying amount of dirt to sweep up and it will keep the children out of trouble.
  • Expectations. Hold them very loosely. It will be happier in the house if you can roll with the tide a bit.
  • Food. Keep it simple, comforting, and easily cooked in one dish. Buy it already made if you need to. Do not allow people to get desperate with hunger if you wish to avoid mutters of mutiny.
  • Dishes. This is not a time to be squeamish about saving the Earth and never using disposables.
  • Drinks. It is surprising how much stamina a can of pop will produce in a child who is tired of working. Popsicles and ice cream novelties have the same effect.
  • Rest. It is pretty important, so it is worth the money to buy a good air mattress or to set up your familiar beds as soon as possible. However, it is not wise to get out the white bedding at this point.
  • Drama. Try to limit your fed-up texts to your husband while he’s at work. Chances are he’s just as tired of the chaos as you are.
  • Paint. It is a wonderful, transforming agent of relative cheapness, and you might as well be friends. After about 30 gallons of paint, you will feel quite well acquainted.
  • Painting accessories. Start with the best brush you can afford, and don’t buy a cheap roller. Use name brand masking tape. Get the little gizmo that clips onto a paint can so that it pours neatly without dribbling into the rim of the metal can. If you have 5 gallon buckets of paint, buy a screw-on spout. There are roller cleaners and metal combs that make cleaning brushes much easier. All of these nifty gadgets might cost $10 total. Just buy them.
  • Trash bags. You will need a lot of them. Big ones. Black ones. Clear ones. White ones. Stretchy ones. You get the idea.
  • Clothes. Live in your worn out clothes to work in, and have a spare set of nice clothes for going away. Don’t bother with trying to be impressive at this stage. You’ll only get paint on your best skirt.
  • Tools. If you are doing a family remodel project, make sure you have tools for all the people. A mini hammer in the hands of a 9-year-old is much better than having a bored 9-year-old hovering around your project.
  • Ibuprofen. You’re going to need it, and also that relaxing muscle rub in the box you can’t find, including all the supplements and prescription medications that you refilled just before you moved. Of all the boxes to lose, that one is the worst. Don’t be like us. Keep track of that box.
  • Friends. They really are of  inestimable value. Some bring you food, some help you install unwieldy bathtubs, some pitch in and clean, and others give good advice on sticky situations.
  • Vision. Keep pretending that you’re seeing things finished, and eventually it will happen. That’s what they said anyway. It’ll be fun they said.

My husband assures me that things will only get better from here. I make occasional pessimistic comments about having my kitchen done by Christmas, and sometimes the constant chaos gets into my head so that I cannot even. But I don’t believe that that’s a good place to park, so I recharge in any way I can and work at making spaces that are not messy and mixed up. It makes all the difference just to have a few familiar books on a shelf, and to be able to find my favorite pen when I’m writing in my planner.

Today I ordered the children’s school books, and we’re all looking forward to the routine that comes with our school schedule.

One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

One thought on “Notes from a construction zone

  1. This is all so eerily familiar to me. We bought a 110 year old Craftsman last fall & lived in the zone described above for 6 months. Fortunately the finished areas now outnumber the unfinished areas. Yes to all the things. Buy the tools, the pricey tape, the freezer meal. We don’t have children but we both have jobs and some days it seemed that neither careers nor house was flourishing. 🙂 The endless dirt wearies the soul, but I feel at least partially qualified to tell you that yes, it will happen. Not overnight, and not in a tidy way, but it will. And you will have a house with personality that money can never buy. 🙂

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