While the installation was painful on his body, energy, and soul, I actually feel like we survived together pretty unscathed. I thought I should share my tips on what helped us to manage this crazy renovation, with children, while living in the house.
1) Go with the flow
I'm not really your "go with the flow" type of person. I'm more of the high strung type. Not everyone sees that side of me, but my family does. Daily. However, I knew to survive the chaos and mess of living in a construction zone I would have to "go with the flow". And that' was my mantra, morning, noon, and night.
When I was cleaning dishes in the master bathroom sink, I reminded myself to just go with it.
While I was warming bottles up in the microwave on our bedroom floor, I just took a deep breath.
When my dog was sleeping in my closet because there was no other available floor space in our bedroom (and yes, we have royal blue carpet in our master closet), I laughed.
When the floors were drying and I really wanted a glass of wine, but only had a baby bottle as a vessel to drink from. I just drank from it.
Luckily three year olds think that watching television on the floor, on couch cushions, in any room but the living room qualifies as camping, and three year olds think camping is amazing. So that helped to. He was going with the flow.
When our garage looked like a small bomb went off (we usually enter and exit through the garage and we like to keep is as functional and tidy as possible), I flowed.
The state of mind really and truly helped.
2) Not questioning Jon
This was key. Really it was. Do not question your partner who is doing all of the work, putting in the long hours, lacking sleep, missing most meals, and hasn't been outside for five days straight. Just don't do it. I avoided asking Jon about his pace of work (around day 6 of the install I broke this rule a bit, and it's the only time tension arose between us. But we moved on quickly). I didn't question his techniques. I've never installed flooring myself, so I figured I wasn't in a position to question him in any sense of the word. He knew what he was doing, and he needed my faith in him, not my scrutiny.
3) Be a cheerleader
Instead of questioning, texting, or frustrating him, my goal was to be a cheerleader. If I wasn't one, who would be? Jon certainly didn't have the energy to fill that role too. I tried my best to not bug him or check in on him. When I did, I offered encouraging words, praise, and affirmation. He was saving us so much money! He was transforming our home! His craftsmanship was amazing! I picked him up food when I could, and stocked the fridge a bit with easy frozen meals.
One evening when we stopped by with food to say hello.4) Good weather
We had some really good luck on our side. I know that often road bumps present themselves during renovations, and one thing that might have broken the camels proverbial back would have been bad weather.
Winter never really arrived in Tahoe this year. We have received very little (minuscule really) snow, and temperatures have been unseasonably warm. Tackling a big reno project in Tahoe in the winter can be risky business, as 4' of new snow can make any effort challenging. For us, it would have made things nearly unbearable.
We were entering and existing our house via our side yard and backyard. We had carpet piled up in our driveway and packages arriving daily on our doorstep. Not to mention buckets of tools and work tables on our decks. The dry weather and comfortable temps meant we were able to picnic outdoors and Nolan could entertain himself on our lawn or in our dirt. We could also keep windows open for ventilation. So yeah, try to plan your renovation for when temps will be in the low seventies, with a hint of a light breeze. Easy peasy, right?
5) We left ourselves some financial wiggle room
Money (or lack there of), will elevate stress levels under any circumstances, and even more so during a home renovation. After the expense of the hardwood flooring materials, we had some wiggle room to cover the cost of tools we anticipated purchasing, as well as the subflooring materials, etc. While we had still underestimated the total cost, having some wiggle room helped to keep stress to a minimum. Which helps to keep spirits higher. Which helps on day seven, in hour sixteen, when everyone is tired.
We were also super fortunate that we all stayed healthy through the almost two week long ordeal (no easy matter for a family with small kids), that we didn't discover any huge issues like mold in our base flooring, and that the materials we needed were all in stock when we needed them. The process was challenging, but could have been far worse. I'll have to keep that in mind when we tackle the stairs and downstairs hallway.