If you follow us on Instagram, you probably know that Erin’s house is under construction right now. Erin and her husband are building a second-story master suite and converting the former master bedroom into a playroom.
Everyone knows that renovating is stressful. So now seems like a good time to mention that Erin and her family are also living in their home while the sledgehammers swing. That’s right: her bed is currently parked in the middle of the living room, separated from the elements by only a plastic sheet and some plywood. It’s all very exciting.
We know, you are totally expecting a woe-is-me run-down from us on what a catastrophe it has been, how Erin will never do it again, etc.
Living through the construction has not been that bad.**
After some discussion, we have decided that Erin is still reasonably upbeat about the whole thing because she is using coping skills that she has been refining (perfecting, perhaps) while working away in her day job.
Here are the three key working-mom* skills that we think are saving Erin’s sanity:
1. Working moms are used to dealing with a certain level of chaos.
In fairness, this is all parents. We’ve all had a toddler throw yogurt at us while we search for our older child’s missing field trip permission form. Chaos is par for the course, and so it’s not as upsetting as it might have been when we were 26 years old and had clean countertops and perfectly fluffed throw pillows on the couch.
With construction, you get a little extra dust from the framing. You get a little extra noise from the tile-cutting buzzsaw at 7:12 a.m. You get a port-a-potty sitting in your driveway.
Whatever. This stuff barely hits our radar. Carry on, demo crew. We’ll just be on a conference call while we do three loads of laundry and meal plan for the week.
2. Working moms know how to handle unexpected problems with equanimity.
Something weird always happens during construction. This becomes clear if you watch more than five minutes of HGTV: there’s mold, or possibly a family of raccoons has been living in the attic, or water is leaking into the fireplace or something. In Erin’s case, the weird thing happened pretty early on, when her contractor discovered that a load-bearing wall had no concrete foundation underneath. Thus the wall was not actually capable of bearing loads.
The missing foundation was an annoying problem, but honestly, we’ve seen far more complexity arise when we were sitting at our desks attempting to work. Like when Erin’s cat threw up on her computer and completely fried it on a day she was scheduled to make a huge presentation at work. Heather once took a conference call while simultaneously holding her daughter’s hair back while she barfed (thankfully Heather was listening on this call, not actually speaking). It’s not pretty, but it’s all true.
The point is, we’ve learned that for most problems, there’s a creative solution. And so we don’t get too worked up about the problems anymore.
(For Erin’s lack-of-foundation issue, her contractor and architect figured out a way to tunnel in from the side of the house like miners and pour the concrete. Yay!)
3. Working moms make quick decisions and we’re excellent project managers.
You know what working parents do not have time to do? Go to five tile stores to select bathroom tile. We can manage one, maybe two, and that’s it. This makes us excellent clients for contractors because we will simply pick a tile and move on to the next thing.
Early on during Erin’s construction, her contractor sent her three options for shower drains, then told her if she wanted to go to the showroom to look at other drains, she could.
We had a hearty laugh about that one. She chose Drain #2 on the spot and literally never thought about it again until writing this blog post.
We also have no problems integrating construction-related tasks onto our to-do lists and knocking stuff out. As Heather often says, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” So we can coordinate meetings with the architect and contractor, double check the permitting process, make sure the plumbing subcontractor has been paid, and arrange for the new bathtub to be delivered to the house, all before lunch.
This is all our way of saying, if you’re ever thinking about doing some remodeling or home improvement, GO FOR IT. Yes it will be annoying, but you’ll handle it just fine, and then it will be over and your house will work better for you. We have complete faith in your ability to make it all work, just like you do everything else in your life.
*We dislike this term, and are trying to navigate away from it, because all moms are working their tails off. But for right now, we’re using the term to refer to jobs outside the home.
**Erin is a mere two months into a five-month project. We will check back in on this subject and see if her sanity is still intact in a few weeks’ time.