Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: A space to call their own! March 18, 2011

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renovationWell it’s been almost seven months in the making but the boys finally have their space upstairs and our renovation is almost complete.  Since one of the men-children has officially relocated upstairs I couldn’t wait to share the news. 🙂

It’s become clear to me that renovations are a bit like childbirth – over time you forget how painful, disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming it can be (a renovation not a child), and next thing you know you’ve jumped right back in and suddenly find your house turned upside down.  Our last reno was 13 years ago, so we’ve had quite some time to forget the original trauma.

Once the builders moved from working upstairs in the roof cavity, which was relatively painless I must admit, to downstairs IN the house, we very quickly got sick of the dust, dirt and constant stream of tradies through the house.   Not to mention living with one small bathroom between five of us, having the new bathroom fittings and accessories living in our hallway for a couple of months, my daughters temporary bedroom (in the study) hosting hoards of teenagers on the PS3 every weekend, a port-a-loo in the driveway for the builders (yes I know the alternative is far worse), bathtubs and scaffolding in the backyard (very attractive) and a laundry chock-a-block with furniture overflow.

Add to that a couple of hiccups with delays in delivery of orders (the custom windows took two months to arrive), and our two new bathrooms look great, but we’re still waiting for the cabinets and basins (so bad luck if you want to wash your hands), and a few other things that just didn’t go my way.

Like making it to IKEA to order the new Queen size beds for the men-children (an earlier promise for our growing boys), only to find they were out of stock of one mattress (of course I need two, they’re not sharing a bed!).  So having queued at the checkout, then queued at the merchandise pick up counter, then queued at the home delivery counter, I have to go back and do it all again this week for the second mattress!!

Or having the electrician drop something on his foot the day he was supposed to come and do all the power, air-con etc, which meant the boys having moved upstairs anyway had extension cords running up the stairs with more power boards than Bunning’s.  I was sure we were going to short-circuit the entire house with the set up they had.   Naturally it was one of the few hot weekends in Melbourne, so no air-con and broken blinds (don’t ask) made it just a little toasty for them!

But all of the above aside, I’m delighted to say the results are fantastic and we are all thrilled with the new space.  The boys love their bedrooms, bathroom and sitting room.  They have Foxtel, their new flat screen TV, and PS3 upstairs.  The only thing they want is a bar fridge (yes you heard right) and they think they’ll be set forever!!  Oh and a dumb-waiter so we can send meals up and they can send their dirty dishes and clothes down – SURE!  Thank goodness we got a solid door at the foot of the stairs – they took it off temporarily and I was shocked at the noise travelling down the stairwell.  No more doof doof music and wrestling SFX for us – bliss.

Even the younger sister of the men-children loves her new bedroom (her brother’s old one), with so much more space for everything.  Just as well because the other day she ventured upstairs and the boys positively freaked out that she was “in our space”.   She wasn’t even allowed to sit on the new bed!  Naturally I’ve promised the boys the novelty will wear off for their younger sister, but I’ve also explained that they don’t OWN the space and told my daughter that whenever they’re not at home she can use it as much as she wants.  Peacekeeping skills also being a requirement of Mother of a Man-Child.

We’ve just christened the bath (as big as a small plunge pool – I promise in all other ways we’re water savers), and we’re still trying to fill the fantastic under stair storage area (okay, cheap thrills I know).   I’m hoping the shutters will only be six weeks on a slow boat from China, or the boys better get used to early morning starts once daylight savings ends. 🙂

So if anyone is taking the plunge and wants some reno tips, let me know.  Sadly I’ve developed some amazing project management skills in the absence of those promised by the builder, so I could be of use to you.

 

Mother of a man-child: Space for everyone? June 18, 2010

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Like all growing families, we have contemplated the need for more room, to house the needs of a growing family. When our daughter came along, we converted what was an odd-shaped “study” into a quaint little girls bedroom. And in fact it has served her very well, although it’s not large enough to accommodate all her toys, and it’s opposite her brothers bedroom which isn’t ideal when she’s trying to go to bed at night.

Actually to be completely rational, it’s not really about extra space, more about the floor plan that we currently have and the fact it no longer works with teenagers and a 6-year-old girl. In the interests of giving the boys some independence, we have allowed them to take over the formal lounge/study as their own, so they can sit in there with mates on their PS3, play music, chat with friends, watch TV, chat on Facebook (yes all simultaneously) whilst leaving us in peace. It works to a point, but at night when our daughter is trying to go to sleep, the doof doof coming from the room next door is not exactly conducive to slumber.

My husband always used to complain about everyone being in the family room when they were younger. I said yes, that’s the point, family room, where the family congregates. And whilst that’s definitely ideal when they are young, and you want to keep an eye on them, it’s actually less useful as they get older.

So after much deliberation, some thoughts about moving, some depressing attempts to bid on properties we thought were ideal (but clearly beyond our budget) and general agreement that we all love our current location, we’ve decided to go up. Not as many expect with the luxurious parents retreat (however tempting that may be) but actually to put the boys upstairs. Imagine the bliss for them with a large bedroom each upstairs, a shared bathroom and living room, away from the “rents” (that’s parents for those who missed my earlier glossary of terms) and a space they can call their own.

Imagine the bliss for us to have them upstairs, and not have to hear the sounds of their world wrestling antics, doof doof music, or to see the unkempt bedrooms, complete with wet towels on the floor, dirty clothes littering every room, the wet bath mat on the floor permanently (why hang it up?), dirty cups and plates on the floor……

Now I realise we need to consider a few things if the plan is to succeed:

  1. We need to ensure the architect does everything he can to sound proof upstairs
  2. Assuming polished concrete is not possible as a floor substance, then we want the best industrial strength carpet money can buy, in the best colour to hide dirt
  3. I will probably have to pay the cleaners danger money each week to walk upstairs and clean, but that’s better than me doing it
  4. On a quarterly basis we will have the fumigation team in to ensure no bacteria/toxic outbreaks are thriving upstairs
  5. Oh and maybe we should get windows that we can schedule to open on a timer – so a good dose of fresh air regularly rids the area of teenage boy smells…..

If we can achieve all this, I have no doubt both our teenagers and we parents are more likely to survive the next 5 years with our sanity intact. I will draw the line at putting in a hoist that doubles as a laundry chute and food elevator – it’s not a hotel (even though the boys treat it as such often……).

Now to hurry up the council – I want those plans approved so we can all achieve this state of blissful co-habitation as soon as possible.