A Home Improvement Project

It’s the school holiday and just when I thought I could finally take a break from Mummy’s duties, I was being thrown into another madness of outings, incessant nagging and chasing after energized younglings.

So my husband finally took some time off from work and has had grand plans for some home improvement projects.

Between overseas holiday and home improvement projects, I had chosen the latter thinking that since our place is relatively new, any home fix shouldn’t be too complicated. I badly needed a break, a relaxing one and by my standard, that would mean, eat, sleep, do nothing and repeat the cycle again.

We just did a major renovation to our place a few months ago and we love how our home now reflects our style and living habits. We had spent many hours researching and discussing (or arguing) and drawing out the plan. My husband fixed most of the living room and study furniture himself. No, he isn’t a carpenter or interior designer by vocation. In fact it was his first time fixing furniture after we got our new place.

Recently, I have been bugging him to set up the computer so that I could access all our old photos from an old hard disk. Despite having put in a lot of thought in our design, we had somehow missed out a permanent home for the computer! Still I thought it wouldn’t be a problem as there was plenty of ad hoc spaces that we could use, like the sprawling craft table that he had skilfully made for us to get messy.

Apparently that was not good enough by his standard. He spent a couple of days brainstorming with the kids and came up with this.

A detailed plan that he had neatly drew out with measurements and shopping list, which required extensive work to replace a wall of bookcases with wall shelves and a working top.

I was told that the project would take 3 days and I would be spared from the mess and stress. I wasn’t told how though. I guess my husband thought he could hold the sky just by being around.

My husband and I don’t often see eye to eye. He’s a typical Martian. He likes to fix things and I like to shop. We come from different planets. It’s hard for him to understand why one needs 10 pairs of shoes when he could live on a single pair. He is good at visualizing and have exactly what he wants planned out while I need to see 10 different options physically before I can decide.

I knew trying to change his mind regarding the design would take insurmountable effort. It would require sound logic and reasoning and superb negotiating skills. Yet there’s nothing logical about choosing between wall shelves and standing bookcases. Or is there?

Seeing how enthusiastic the boys were, I decided to go with the plan.

Over 5 days, we visited Ikea 5 times. We were there during the day with the kids to browse and returned at night (without the kids) to purchase. I knew if left on their own, the boys would head straight to the warehouse, collect the items they need and proceed to the checkout aisle. But that would be too haphazard. I had to zigzag through the maze in the Swedish furniture store, be inspired and bombard them with alternative ideas. Even though these ideas often couldn’t withstand their counter argument. But at least I tried.

This went on every time we visit the store. It was exhausting, both physically and mentally. I was so tempted to check into a hotel and come back after the chaos was over!



The boys learned to drill, screw, sand and saw from the “master”. The house was in a total mess and sawdust was everywhere. (That is the problem living in an apartment with no outdoor space!) I did more cleaning and mopping in the few days than I would normally do in a month. On top of the mess, I had to worry about a party at our place at the end of the week. It has became more stressful than before my husband went on leave.

But slowly, what we had on paper finally took form.



It was a wonderful and satisfying feeling to see everything comes together. The boys were happy with their work. They had a good time bonding with their Dad and picked up some useful skills from him. They have learned that there is almost always a solution to everything. If you put your heart and mind to it, you can do it, even if you have no experience doing it.

As for me, I was exhausted but relieved that we have survived another DIY project. I learned that marriage and parenting are like home improvement projects. They are always work in progress. To navigate through the waters of turbulence, we need to communicate and compromise. It requires hell lot of effort and it requires us to keep working at it.

So to their Dad, my husband, who had incidentally taught us some good lessons with his unwavering determination in achieving what he wants (a few broken drill bits and a broken jig saw didn’t stop him!) … Happy Father’s Day! 



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