Post #2 of 3: Kitchen Remodels

So, you’ve planned and envisioned, packed up and prepped. At some point, reality hits:  you’re going to be without a kitchen, or at least reduced use of it, for some period of time.  How will you and your family cope?

Feeding your Family

If you’ll be without an oven or stovetop, hopefully you’ve got a countertop appliance or two that you can rely on to make simple meals.  If you don’t happen to own a crock pot, Instant Pot, toaster oven, and other handy items, ask around among your friends and see if someone can lend you one for a while.  While you’re at it, ask for their favorite recipes and ideas for simple, nourishing meals that you and yours might enjoy.

Although it’s possible to do a surprising amount of cooking with a minimal amount of equipment, there will be times when you’ll need (or want) other options.  To keep costs under control, take advantage of special nights restaurants offer. Grocery store delis can be less expensive than restaurant take-out, and might offer more flexibility on ingredients.  Perhaps you can even cook with friends and neighbors on occasion.

Outsmart Chaos

Does this sound familiar?  Half-awake, you’re preparing your kids’ lunches, when your spouse comes in to make coffee.  You step aside, knowing better than to impede that process, but before you can get back to your task, Kid 1 comes in asking for toast.  You pop some bread in the toaster, just before Kid 2 hollers something about having no clean socks. As you tend to the sock crisis, the toast burns, then suddenly the school bus is there and the lunches are half made.

They key to avoiding chaos, and hectic mornings, is to think about how you can accommodate your household’s habits despite an incomplete kitchen.  Spouse requires coffee right away? Set up a card table with a coffee maker and have them fill the water tank the night before. Kids on different schedules for breakfast? Set up a cereal station, and a bowl of fruit to make it easy for everyone to get a quick, nutritious start to the day.  Packing lunches the day before can help too. (Crises with the sock drawer? That’s a whole ‘nother story. Stay tuned!)

Consider involving the whole family in anticipating difficulties and especially in coming up with solutions.  Kids might enjoy seeing the remodeling disruption as an adventure, a chance to do things differently than they’re normally expected to. You might need to take on their adventurous lens along the way when you’ve lost yours. But also be sure to communicate the new routine as things change, as Brene Brown says “Clear is kind”.

Eyes on the Prize

One way to get yourself through those, adventurous, moments is to imagine how much better things will be when your project is done.  Whether your improvements are mostly cosmetic (fresh paint, cabinets and countertops?) or comprehensive (new floor plan?) there are probably things you’re doing to improve your workflow when you finally get to move back in. Maybe that means dishes will be easier to put away when emptying the dishwasher, oven mitts will be next to the oven, knives will be accessible but out of reach of little hands.  Paying attention to workflow while you’re in the remodel can help you to make some of those final decisions like lighting remedies dark corners and shadowed work spaces. And doing without certain things for a while can help you see what you miss, and what you would be just as happy to not have taking up space in your cabinets.  (Note: Part 3 in this series is all about organization ideas to work into your new kitchen.)

Finally, your kitchen remodel may help you gain a deep appreciation for things that we’re all guilty of taking for granted -hello clean running water.  A friend of a friend washed dishes in the bathtub for six months while working on renovations, I’d probably opt for using a camping sink on a folding table, but hey if you’re okay with a little extra tub scrubbing, go for it!  Another family gained a whole new appreciation for drainpipes, after catching wastewater in a 5-gallon bucket under a temporary sink, and carrying it outside to dump in the garden. (Hint: don’t wait until the bucket is full!)

Whatever your situation, remember, it’s temporary.  Hang in there! When it’s all put back together, your  “new normal” will be better than before, and the journey will have been worth it.