1. Think of the project as a new diet. Who doesn’t want to lose at least five pounds? This is one way to do it. Between running to stores all day and evening long, meeting with contractors, inspecting the work, searching the Western world for the perfect light fixture, who has time to eat? Provided you don’t sabotage this new, unorthodox diet plan, with McDonalds drive through, you’re good for losing five pounds. If you are a masochistic type who does some of the work yourself – whether it be painting, laying tile, landscaping the yard – you can count on another five to ten pounds of weight loss. Just think, you may be miserable, frustrated, exhausted, nd down right cynical about the good of the humankind, but your jeans will fit nicely!
2. Write checks as aerobic exercise. These workouts are great for toning the wrist and fingers. Usually done in hectic spurts as you race out the door in the morning while the contractors are breathing down your neck and your kids are beating each other with the lunch boxes you just prepared, the stress and frantic activity are sure to raise your heartbeat for a good hour. Grumbling under your breath that the plumber, electrician, or you name it, isn’t really worth this much money adds greater intensity and calorie burn to this little publicized exercise regime.
3. Save money through shopping burnout Yes, even the most die-hard shopper will come to dread setting foot in any store. This affliction starts innocently enough as you go to look for light fixtures. How hard can it be? Hard! Either the light you want is being shipped from Yugoslavia and won’t arrive until your youngest child buys his own home, or you just can’t find the one you want. You’ll shop every lighting and electrical store you know. You’ll search Home Depot. You’ll haunt hardware stores. And then there’s plumbing fixtures. Sink centers, faucet handles, finishes, special orders. What’s all that about? And the cost. You’d think you were outfitting the palace for a former third world dictator. Of course, there’s carpet, tile, hardwood, stairs, siding, windows. Enough already. And you thought it was a pain picking mints and sweet table treats for your wedding.
After your 1000th trip to Home Depot (or Lowes or Menards or whatever), in addition to all the other trips you’ve made for items that shouldn’t count as shopping (toilet seats, for example), you’ve had it. Your friends won’t be able to bribe you to check out the latest sale at Bloomingdales. You’ll think it will be better when you can pick out “fun” things like paint, wall paper, drapes, fabric, furniture – but don’t bet on it. At this point, the pressure to make your home look like something other than an empty rat maze will counteract any joy in shopping. Spending this much money has never been such a miserable experience. As a result, when your home becomes half-way presentable, you’ll refuse to shop again – even for groceries – for at least six months. The money you save during this shopping hiatus will be sufficient for you to resume this previously pleasurable past time once more without guilt.
4. Impress your friends with obscure facts. Only someone that has built or remodeled their home can explain the fluid dynamics of a proper toilet water swirl. Or cite the International Building Code that calls for no more than 6’ between electrical outlets. Or brag that triple glazed windows are really the wave of the future for light emitting device technology. See what I mean? 🙂
5. Pride yourself on your new creative skills. You’ll discover a creative side that you never knew existed. Like how to wash dishes in the bath tub. And how to make a full course meal for a family of four using nothing more than a toaster and hot plate. Or how to fit an entire family in a house smaller than your first apartment. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. That’s probably true, but I also think that the only thing that separates modern and pioneer life is just one kitchen or bath remodeling project.
6. Yell at someone other than your kids – and not feel guilty. Honestly, as a modern woman trying to juggle the running of our homes, possibly a job, and the future Olympic soccer aspirations of our children, you have the primal need to yell. At someone. Anyone. Often our spouse and children suffer from this need of ours to release pent up negative energy generated from nothing more than some miniature human leaving smelly gym shoes on the kitchen table. (Ok, that probably deserves a bit of yelling – we eat at this table!) But when you remodel your house, you have a whole cast of characters – and believe me, they’re characters – that often deserve a good scream from time to time. Like when they tell you that they tore out the fireplace because they didn’t think it looked right. Or when they show you a mistake made three weeks ago that now requires half the house to be torn down in order to fix. Yelling isn’t immature or a result of too much estrogen, it’s therapy.
7. Throw out (finally) your significant other’s treasured [fill in the blank] from his bachelor days. You know what I mean. It could be the semi-nude poster he won’t get rid of. Or his collection of exotic beer cans. Or all of his Sports Illustrated magazines since the Chicago Bears last won the Superbowl. Now is the perfect time to get rid of it. If you need to move out of your house while the remodeling is done, or you are moving to a new home, such an opportune time may never occur again. Say it won’t fit in the rental house. It’s either this or his golf clubs. Gently remind him that the sentimental item really serves as a reminder of his advancing years. Anything. Get rid of it. It will be one positive you can remind yourself of when the stress of remodeling makes you feel that this project was the biggest mistake of your life.
8. Grow closer to your family through forced bathroom sharing. The saying goes that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Perhaps that wise pundit had to share a closet sized bathroom with three kids and a spouse. In reality, there’s no greater way to create intimacy in a family than by all trying to get ready for the morning in the same 7’x 5’ space. You’ll learn new exciting things about your children – like toilet paper is purely optional for little boys. You’ll discover that there is no bond quite like the one created when the entire family brushes their teeth together over the same sink. You’ll realize why the older generation of your relatives only washed their hair once a week instead of facing communal bathroom time. But most importantly, you’ll no longer need to yell at your kids to hurry up for school – they’re standing right next to you.
9. Earn free flights from all of your purchases. In what is admittedly (and somewhat sheepishly) the only practical survival tip on this list, get an airline mileage credit card. Charge everything on it – lights, plumbing fixtures, windows, doors, lumber, carpet. The windows alone can get you close to one free trip. Whether you decide to share your miles with anyone else in the family or to escape on your own to a world of quiet solitude and, preferably, an open bar, is entirely up to you.
10. Hire some good looking contractors and feel like you’re 15 years old again. Hey, guys get a whole chain of restaurants and bars where the main attraction is busty waitresses in tight t-shirts (Hooters). Why can’t us gals have some eye candy once in a while? Besides, it’s a productivity tool. You’ll be more likely to inspect the job or meet the architect if some young, fit, good-looking men are there – especially in the summer months when shirts tend to become optional. For example, we once hired a roofing crew of male model wannabees for a house we built. My husband called them the “Beefcake Roofers.” They created quite a stir in the neighborhood that summer. Let me tell you, it made rushing to stop by the house to go over notes with the trades first thing in the morning a bit more interesting … and much more fun!
Finally, remember, the end result of your new house will be worth the aggravation of the process. Plus, think of all the good stories you can tell!