The kitchen is the heart of the home. For my family, this is truth. Our kitchen has always been the hub of our lives. I am not sure what we would do without it, or at least I wasn’t sure before. Before I came home from a Target run to find my pipes spewing black sludge water from my kitchen sinks and the wide-open dishwasher. Long, gross, and smelly story short, our wood floors were ruined and so was the dishwasher. It all had to be torn out. Insurance companies were called (we live in a condo) and the long process of getting it repaired and remodeled began. This left us without a floor, it was ripped out to the cement. A broken dishwasher, it took on so much water some just lingers inside the door.

The loss of a majority of our dishes, I happened to have a full clean dishwasher and a sink full of dirty dishes from dinner the night before. (Don’t judge!) What does a busy parent do when they unexpectedly (or expectedly) have a kitchen remodel? Breathe, then read my tips for surviving the new normal.

  1. Don’t feel guilty about using paper products. I am a big recycler and advocate of reducing our waste. BUT I also work and so does my husband. We have two boys who eat from the time they wake until they go to sleep. Some nights they are still chewing food on the way to pajama time. I am serious. Without a dishwasher, dishes take forever. There is no way I can spend hours handwashing the amount of dishes we go through daily. I swallowed my immense guilt, and switched to paper plates/cups/bowls while we go through this unexpected remodel. It is only for a moment and when we can, we will go back to our usual ways.
  2. Keep a positive attitude. Our remodel was entirely due to the pipe issue. I did not expect this to happen or our kitchen to be ruined. I had a moment of deciding between letting the stress of the unexpected water catastrophe take over, or shrug and realize there are people in the world who have experienced far worse disasters. It is annoying for sure, but in the grand scheme, this isn’t too bad. I embraced the new chaos and mess.
  3. Get out. Seriously. If you can, move out for a while, a weekend even. Immediately after our incident, we spent two days in our condo. The kitchen was sealed off. There were fans and dehumidifiers running 24/7. Dust was being stirred up. We couldn’t hear or breathe. We couldn’t access much in our kitchen. We couldn’t wash any dishes because there was equipment in the way. It was uncomfortable for all of us. In the shower, two days later, I decided enough was enough. I packed our bags, picked my oldest up from school early, and headed out of town for 4.5 days. When we returned, the restoration company had removed the plastic wall and equipment. While our new normal, was, well new, it was at least livable. The time away from the worst of it made dealing with it all much easier.
  4. Treat yo self. Go out to eat or order your dinner in. This is the time for you to get frequent restaurant meals free of parent-guilt. It is hard to cook with a kitchen that isn’t fully functional, especially if you’re missing some of your tools to cook. Take the opportunity to order dinners without feeling like you should be cooking 7 nights a week. I have still been able to cook, but some nights I just thrown my hands up and said, ok, it is easier to order or go out.
  5. Make lists. I sat down to order new dishes and utensils. I suddenly felt very overwhelmed. Where do I even start? What is missing? There was such a rush to get the sink empty and the flow of water to stop that much was discarded without me being able to take note. I stopped online shopping and grabbed a little notebook. I keep it in my kitchen. As I come across something that is missing, I write it down. When I order it, I cross it off. I found that it has helped me feel less like this is a disaster and more in control of the whole situation. Bonus tip: have fun buying new items for your home. Think of it as a refresher of your space.
  6. Keep it funny. I have taken several photos and made snarky remarks and posted them on my social media. Even a good old fashioned ET reference. (Our kitchen looked like the scenes when the government comes in) Laughter is the best medicine, after all. I try to keep my sense of humor about it. The more I find something funny about this, the easier it is to go about my usual-ish routines.

When life throws you black smelly pipe sludge water and a water-logged kitchen, order your family a pizza, throw it on some disposable plates, snuggle up in the living room, and smile knowing you don’t have to load the dishwasher tonight.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Nicole VandeBoom