It's so crazy to think that I was pregnant with my 4-year-old when we first bought land and started this crazy idea of building a house. And now, by the time we move in later this year, my kids will be almost 5 and 8 years old. Since they are big enough to understand, we have been trying to involve them in the process as much as possible. Partly, because it's such a unique situation to get to see your family's home come to life and partly, because we want them to understand how much work is involved from SO many people so they can understand and appreciate it. Here are some of the things we've done to involve them in the home build process….
1. Get kids excited about construction! Construction isn't an activity that kids are interacting with often, so get them excited about the idea of building something from scratch. This could involve a book (like this one by the Property Brothers), a small builder's kit to play with, or simply by getting them their very own hard hats to wear on-site.
2. Help them make their mark! I have seen parents have their kids write notes or messages to put into the ground before it gets filled. Or, write into an area of wet cement with their name and date before it dries. For us, we had our kids come while the framing was starting and let them draw with sharpies all over one section of beams. The beams were covered soon after this, but we know that it's the corner of the house where you enter our kitchen, so the kids will always remember that their drawings are embedding inside the walls at that very spot!
3. Have them visit the site regularly. If you're renovating or building, there will be times that it's simply unsafe for kids to be on site. But, when it is safe for them, it's great to have them come regularly to see the process unfold. Day to day and week to week, the state of your construction can change so fast, and they'll love seeing it transform and get closer and closer to what they know as an actual, real house! There were times when the ground was literally JUST dirt for several months and my kids had a hard time understanding that the house would eventually have actual floors. So, it's been great to see the home unfold through their eyes, too!
4. Let them give input into the design of their rooms. If you're building or renovating, this is the one time that you could actually build in some fun details into a child's space. Some make cool secrets doors that connect kids' rooms to one another or fun ladders that lead to a special built-in platform bed. While we're not doing any custom built-in details like that, I have been showing my girls various swatches of tiles, wallpaper, and paint colors for their bathroom and bedroom to get their feedback on what they like or don't like.
Giving kids the information to better understand a pretty intense construction project not only allows them to learn from it, feel involved, but also creates such amazing memories for them to look back on knowing they played a small part in creating their family's home.