In 2014, Blockheads Kyal and Kara burst onto our TV screens when the reality renovation juggernaut, The Block, aired for its 8th season. This popular duo, who feature regularly on Channel 10's The Living Room, now have more than 40 renovations to their (household!) names.
As parents to Ziya, born in October 2016, Kyal and Kara had to find a way to renovate while also being brand new parents. Here the couple, who are now expecting their second child, share their words of wisdom on how to survive – and thrive – when renovating with an infant in tow.
Maximise your time
Kara, who thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the newborn phase with baby Ziya, knows maximising your time is vital when renovating with babies. Even when breastfeeding, she'd dedicate some time to the renovation project.
"While you are feeding you can get productive," she advises. "For example, start writing a to-do list."
Nap time is also go-time for Kyal and Kara. "Once we put Ziya to bed we get so much work done," Kara says. "I know he goes to sleep at 9am and I've got an hour to get as much as I can done. It's the same in the afternoon – I've got an hour so I use that time wisely."
Prioritise your building plans so you have a secure safe haven
It's also important to prioritise your build, in order to keep some semblance of sanity.
"Don't try and do the whole thing all at once," she warns. "Zone the house off and try and finish a few rooms completely first so you've got that safe haven."
"We finished some bedrooms at the start so Ziya had a safe zone we could put him down in, he could run around, play and have toys."
Utilise baby slings and toys
There is one go-to item in particular which has been Kara's saviour: "The baby sling has saved me," she reveals. "I've still got my hands free and I know he is safe when he is on me."
And, if you baby is a busy little man like Ziya, Kara recommends getting them their own toy tools, so they can feel like they are part of the action.
"Ziya likes to get into Kyal's tools so we got him a toy hammer," she says. "He now sits there and bangs things and it distracts him from the things were trying to keep him away from."
Flexibility and balance
The simple truth about renovating with a baby is flexibility is your friend and finding balance is so important.
"That has been hard," Kara admits, when it comes to adjusting to being flexible. "You just aren't as productive and you have to accept that and pat yourself on the back that you are actually getting something done."
Balance is also vital, and in order to maintain a stress-free renovation environment, Kyal and Kara set aside time to be together as a family.
"We always make sure we have days set aside for family time and try not to talk about work."
Coordinate and communicate
"It sounds like common sense but just talking to your partner is important," Kara explains, also adding syncing schedules is equally as vital.
"Kyal and I have done enough renovations now that we know we can schedule well," she says. "We talk about the plans for the week at the start of the week and we set goals for what we need to achieve to stay on track."
The digital age has been such a blessing for time poor parents – especially those who are also renovating with an infant in tow! Making the most of modern technology is therefore a must.
"We have an app on our phone and all of our work lists are connected so I can add stuff to Kyal's and he can add stuff to mine," Kara says. "And if I do something which is on his list I can tick it off so he knows it's done."
"Shopping online has saved me such a lot of time, whether its art or furniture," Kara confirms. "Online has changed so much now in that they give you so much detail and photos so you're more aware of what you are actually buying. And you can read reviews."
"Even if we did The Block again we'd be doing so much more online."
Call in the cavalry
If, like Kyal and Kara, you don't have family living close by, don't be afraid to call for back-up – especially as you near completion!
"Plan ahead and call in reinforcements," Kara says. "If you know in advance when it's going to be so busy, organise family and friends to come and stay."
"Kyal's mum has travelled from Adelaide for a few weeks to help us get over the finish line," she advises. "We're not used to having family support, so it has been a dream!"