When I started out in the building industry 30 years ago, I didn’t realise that my on-the-job experience was also preparing me for the greatest and most powerful role of my entire life: Parenting. Since my gorgeous twins Arabella and Bennet were born 15 months ago, I have discovered that being a dad and doing DIY home renovations really do teach you some similar life lessons. So if I have mastered one area, does that mean I can master the other? I’ll certainly give it a shot!
Here are six things I have learned so far…
1. When you think you know how to do something, you realise you have no idea.
While knocking together an entire new bathroom on the weekend may look like a breeze on the telly, it’s not. It can be overwhelming, and actually requires a lot of research and planning. It will always take more time than you anticipate, and require more manpower than you think. And sometimes you just need to bring in an expert for certain elements too.
My tip: Research, research, research! You can never do too much. When I’m starting a job, I sit down with the client and run through every tiny detail on what the family likes to do in their living space. This is my research and the only way to understand exactly what it is they need, and what will make them happy long term. So it’s important to thoroughly think all this stuff through.
Likewise, parenthood can be a bit daunting. When you first hold that little baby in your arms, it’s the most magical feeling in the world… and then it’s slightly terrifying. This child is relying on you for EVERYTHING. For LIFE! Where’s the manual? The thing I’ve learned is, almost everyone experiences these thoughts. Like DIY, research worked for me here too – Educating myself, talking to other parents, doctors, reading books, and there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips online.
However, in saying this about parenthood, it’s important to note that everyone is different and it definitely pays to go with your intuition and do it the way that feels right for you. (Besides, rules were meant to be broken, right?)
2. As much as you may try to slot them neatly into your existing life, you can’t. Hand over the reins, they now have control!
Goodbye to life as you know it! It can be tricky to balance DIY home renos with your existing work, personal and social commitments. The process can take over your life if not carefully managed. My suggestions are to be patient, to manage your expectations (it’s ALWAYS going to take longer than you anticipate and there WILL be delays), and to an extent, learn to go with the flow. It’s also very important to renovate your home to suit the structure – Work with it, don’t fight it.