Renovating a house is a lot like having a baby. Beforehand it’s all so exciting. You imagine what it’ll look like, daydream about how much fun you’ll have. People coo over what a great adventure it’ll be (but really pitying you on the inside.) You think you know what you’re in for, smugly believing those horror stories you hear about are for people who don’t know what they’re doing, and your experience will be different. You splash out on the best of everything because, quite frankly, nothing less will do for your precious little baby.
And then, BAM. Reality hits.
Moments of sheer joy at what you’ve created are punctuated with sleepless nights, crap strewn all through your house, and the irrational need to blame your partner over every little thing that goes wrong. Meals and personal grooming fall by the wayside. You also get a lot of well-meaning people offering you unwanted advice which only multiplies the stress.
It does get better, after, maybe a year. Many of us go back for more, because I guess those joyful moments make it all worthwhile. Or maybe because sometimes it’s just so traumatic you repress the bad memories as a survival mechanism.
After two kids and two renovations I think that qualifies me to make that assessment. We’ve now been living in our renovated 2 bedroom cottage for over two years which is more crowded than some of the London share-houses I’ve lived in. But at least there if things got all too much you could just pop down to the pub for a pint.
2014 was going to be the year we started the build on our extension. We weren’t counting on what a tough year it would be. (Come on, any Mum would understand just how devastating it would be to have your Bugaboo pram STOLEN from the front porch. Naturally I irrationally blamed my husband.)
In a haze of sleep deprivation, we made it through. But the renovation was put on ice, because juggling two kids under three with work and a frequently travelling hubby, was enough. (Incidentally the complete and utter exhaustion diet is a fantastic way to bounce back post baby, you just have to subsist on cold coffee, left over baby food, and like, no sleep for ten months. Hmmm. Don’t think that will catch on any time soon.)
Then I got a baby sleep expert in. I could’ve furnished a whole room for what I paid, but it was worth it. Viola. Within a few days the kids were sleeping like, erm, babies. (Seriously who invented that phrase?) Suddenly I was excited again to get things happening.
We are getting another quote from a builder today, and then, pending budget constraints, we can make a decision. And for the first time in ages, I’m actually really looking forward to the challenge. Because SLEEP.