What you need to know before renovating with a baby

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Never renovate with a baby. Are you listening? Put down your coffee and repeat after me. Never. Renovate. With. A baby.

Do not do it. Do not pass go. Do not fantasise about colour palettes and polished concrete floors. You want a challenge? A new project? Move cities instead. Move countries. Adopt an abandoned old circus lion which will almost certainly eat someone of importance. Pick up the ancient art of Tai Chi. Facilitate a friendly meeting about marriage equality between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. Do all the things, but do not renovate with a baby.

In fairness, we were warned it was going to be a slog. The extreme depths of sleep deprivation, going down to a single salary, and making a 130-year-old house liveable are perhaps not the things that go together.

Midwives, friends, complete strangers and our architect all shot us the same knowing smile when we told them our plans. "We'll be fine," we replied with extreme confidence – didn't they know we thrived in testing situations? Hello, three and a half years ago my husband and I successfully completed a charity mud run WITHOUT TRAINING. Obviously this was going to be a breeze.


And the thing is, we have the best builder in the whole world. He's actually a saint. He gives me chocolate. Like Santa. So it's not like I can even moan about Bob the builder* because he's not the issue.

Here's an experiment you can conduct in the safety of your own home to measure your readiness to renovate with a baby:

  • Pick a night when you and your partner are tired. But like, bone tired. Like you're eating yogurt and stale ANZAC biscuits for dinner because anything else seems like a bit of effort.
  • Now pick a topic. It can be tiles or paint colours or even tapware. Tapware is a good one because in six months no one is going to care about the tapware but right now BY GOD IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE HAVE EVER DISCUSSED.
  • Now begin to talk about why each of you is more correct than the other. Talk money. Pretend you have more money than you do and stress the importance of imported brass.
  • Sidenote, the exercise doesn't end when one of you calmly puts forward their opinion and the other person genuinely agrees - if that happens, you're not tired enough.
  • Stay up all night with a sick baby and then try again tomorrow.

The exercise is officially complete when the 'victor' declares the 'discussion' over and someone slams a yoghurty bowl into the sink.


You know things are largely on track when your neighbour installs a CCTV camera pointing directly into your backyard. It's basically like a real life episode of Grand Designs meets Teen Mom, except without the youth and substance addiction. I keep waiting for Kevin McCloud to pop his smarmy head over the fence and quip "it's right about now that Edwina is realising the enormity of the looming deadline". Shut it, imaginary Kevin. Everyone in a 5km radius of me is well aware of the looming deadline.

Anyways, Bob is working his little heart out and I'm sure we'll be in by the time we have our second baby, and then we'll never be tired again. So that's good.

*My builders name is not actually Bob but can you imagine if it was. I wish it was.

PS. I haven't slept in seven months.