Construction-Zone Craziness

When we initially started talking about buying our first house, my husband thought it sounded dreamy to buy a fixer-upper we could work on ourselves.

I told him he was crazy.

This was almost 10 years ago, mind you. Before dog, before kid, before we were married, even. I think it’s safe to say life was simpler at the time, and yet I couldn’t imagine diving into a reno and trying to live in the house at the same time. Thanks but no thanks. No way, Jose. Not a chance.

In the end, somewhat ironically, we bought a house in a new development. We picked the colours, the countertops, the cabinets. We watched the walls go up and the windows go in. When it was done, we moved in knowing we didn’t have to do anything. We didn’t even have to change a lightbulb.

Fast forward 9 1/2 years and we’re living in what feels like a construction zone. We’re sprucing things up and fixing things that need to be fixed after inhabiting this space for this many years, more recently with a precocious child who likes to make holes in things and draw on walls. (Magic Erasers are my new best friend.) It’s not a massive undertaking, but it’s starting to feel like it.

We started some of this work in June and then promptly abandoned it (long story), so we’ve been living with spackle-filled holes above our shower and a few other things as part of the scenery ever since. But about three weeks ago we started again in earnest. More holes have been patched, sanded and painted. A wonky skylight no longer looks as though it might share the next heavy rainfall with us. Furniture has been pulled into the middle of the room so we can tackle walls and baseboards.

It’s no large-scale kitchen reno, but it still feels like a construction zone with paint brushes in the kitchen sink and a layer of dust on everything thanks to post-spackle sanding.

Today my husband boldly climbed up to the skylight in our ensuite and fixed the seal around it. Which, understandably, involved the creation of a really big mess. He cleaned it up fairly well, but it will have to be sanded and painted tomorrow so there’s no point getting picky about things tonight. Still, I had to do some sleuthing before bed to figure out where my toothbrush went.

As I brushed I noticed the debris around the sink – pieces of wall and putty and dust and goodness knows what else. Then getting into bed I saw that our duvet was covered in grit. Well, shake it off. Literally. I picked it up, gave it a shake and dumped the grit on the floor.

The mess is temporary, but it’s driving me batty.

I realize this is all a big whine about something insignificant. Something I should be (and am) grateful we’re able to do. In fact, I’m especially grateful for all the work my husband is doing right now – that he’s able to do it all himself and working hard to get it done quickly is not something I take for granted. So yes, this is what you might call a first world problem.

But here’s the thing: I don’t do well in this environment. I get squirrelly enough with clutter – I create my fair share of it, but it makes me crazy. So this is all a bit much.

Every night around 7:00 my husband and I start to get snippy. The cranky cues are subtle – a short fuse when it comes to noisy toys, less patience for repeated requests for a TV show we both hate, and the undercurrent of Oh-God-we’re-never-going-to-get-this-done-and-I-can’t-take-it-anymore in our conversations.

I know – am aware with every fibre of my being – that I could very quickly become a nightmare to live with right now. But I’m determined not to go back there. I am trusting this process to get us where we want to go and in doing so I’m focused on finding a way to live with it – a not insignificant effort that will involve more mood control than I’m usually able to muster.

This is important though and, yes, temporary. So until we’re done I will find a way to overcome the craziness and just be.

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  1. Good luck. First world problem or no, it’s still stressful. Take care of yOurself xo

  2. I hear ya sister.
    When we moved into our home, we knew that we had a lot of work to do. We didn’t plan on being here for long…but then I had a back injury and without working for such a long time, we had to stay put. So we are completely remodling our home. We gutted the basement (and it only took 5 years!!! because we had to do it in a financially wise way) and we did all the rooms upstairs. This spring I took a sledgehammer to my bathroom walls.
    I’m still waiting for its completion.
    My husband is handy but he is also a slow mover.
    It’s ok though.
    Once it’s done, all the memories of locking myself in that awful bathroom will be erased. It will be well worth the wait.
    Sorry for the novel.

  3. OH, yes! The snippy yet subtle cues of impatience with children even just talking! I am so with you there!

    “Can’t you just BE QUIET!”

    Seems a bit ironic, huh?

    I create clutter, too, and I hate it all around me as well. You are so not alone!

  4. I have a hard time living with that going on around me too. I like order and I like it FAST. We re-did the kitchen in the last place we lived and had contractors do the floors and counter tops. I was a mess by the time it was all done. Good for your husband for doing the work, but I TOTALLY get this!

  5. One of the reasons I love you? You remind me of my husband. In a good way. He’s the same about clutter/messes/dirt. You guys make our homes nicer to live in. And I’m sorry (to him) that I’m not as tidy.

    Hang in there. You’re right–this is temporary.

  6. I totally get where you’re coming from on this. I hate clutter and mess and disarray, but sometimes it’s necessary and there is no other way around it (especially when one party has a particular agenda in mind) Hang in there, it will all be over soon!

  7. I can imagine it would get stressful with it taking so long, i know that feeling. and Im glad to have a look into your daily life with this post, too. Im glad you are mindful of needing to be gentle with yourself so you dont get too stressed and overwhelmed. Little things. Forgiving messes and being optimistic day to day. A great perspective to have. Thank you.

  8. Oh girl, I am with you on the clutter. It makes me downright claustrophobic after a while, especially if I haven’t gotten out much with the kids. One foot in front of the other, right?

  9. Last year we did a kitchen remodel. We also painting our bedroom & laid new floors. I learned last year that a bigger project would have probably been the death of us. The hubs & I do not work well togethor – at all.

    Thank for visiting my blog. :)

  10. That would totally drive me crazy as well, though I would love if my husband would take the initiative to do some of these household projects that need to be done. Like our tub that needs to be desperately re-caulked.

  11. This is the kind of thing that puts me over the edge. I can’t handle clutter or mess either, even if I know it’s temporary. And I think it’s okay to just be, to allow yourself to let go while still allowing yourself to have your “moments” too.

    Another great post. Thank you, lady.

  12. You’re not alone – what you described would drive me insane. We’re moving soon, and I really want things that involve drilling, hacking and whatever makes a mess and create dust, to be done before we move in. However, time is not on our side, we just have to do what we can before, and everything else will just have to be done when we’re in. I do not look forward to it.

    So hang on, just imagine the final result!


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