On a good day my house is full of sweet, helpful children who only eat at the kitchen table and make their beds each morning and never leave laundry on the floor or scatter toys throughout the house. Good days happen maybe once or twice a month. The rest of the time I have four crazy kids who can’t hold still and carry toys all over the house, leaving a trail of utter chaos in their wake.
For them, making the bed means throwing the blankets into one big pile on the bed. Getting laundry to the hamper usual means that one piece of clothing makes it to the hamper and the rest are left like bread crumbs along the way. Snacks seem to magically leave the table as soon as I get busy in another room and crumbs can be found in the strangest of places.
So how is a mom supposed to handle letting my kids be kids and still enjoy their toys and actually live in our house, while at the same time trying to keep the house show-ready? Here is what I have learned over the last few weeks.
My children range in age from four up to almost ten. My bigger kids have a pretty good grasp on what is happening at home. They know that we are going to move to a new house and that in order for us to do that, we have to sell our house. They also know that to sell our house we have to keep it looking nice. But what does that mean? Each day my kids have a few jobs to do to help out. They have to make their beds every morning before they leave their rooms. They have to put their laundry in the basket when they change their clothes. If they make a mess, they have to clean it up.
I know that for most people those are regular everyday chores for kids. My kids were pretty lax when it came to chores before. They would do them when they had time to do them. Now they are required and must be done NOW. I’m not going to lie, I’m really hoping this habit sticks and they continue to do this every morning forever.
I am a very visual person. I love lists. Mostly I love being able to cross things off of my list, but it’s helpful for me to see exactly what needs to happen for the house to be ready. It makes me feel more organized to see all the tasks and to be able to say, “Ok, I can get this, this, and this done in about 15 minutes . . . GO!” I have lists for my kids and lists for myself. It’s helpful for them to see what needs to be done, too.
As a mom, I have a tendency to take on way too much, or tell myself I can do it all on my own. I’ve learned the hard way a few too many times, I can’t do it all. Solution: tell my family what I need them to do so that we can get all of our things done. Chores are a part of that, but sometimes I have to make it more of a game to get the kids more excited about it. One game that we tried was assigning point values to random chores for the kids to do and whoever got the most points got to pick a treat.
Sometimes splitting kid duty is the best way to get the job done. I work much faster when my husband is able to take all of the kids out of the house for a couple hours. Then I don’t have any little fingers walking around behind me undoing all of my hard work.
One thing that moving, packing, and staging a house makes very clear is how much stuff you own. I keep going through closets asking, “Why do we own this?” and my garage sale pile is growing. Getting rid of my little bits of clutter that naturally happen due to children has taken some creative thinking. I’m waiting for the day someone opens my silverware drawer and wants to know why my kids’ homework is hiding in there. When we took the pictures for our listing, there was some creative moving, because I was in the middle of packing. This picture of my basement makes it look nice and clean . . .
. . . but the view from the back of the couch has decorations that were waiting to be wrapped and packed.
It’s OK to Say No
We listed our house For Sale By Owner, which gave us a little more responsibility when it came to scheduling showings and open houses. It also made it so people called me directly to see the house. When someone calls you and says, “I like your house. I want to see it.” You can feel like you have to say, “Sure! Come on over!” but you don’t have to! Remember that this is your home, and it is ok to say you are unavailable that day and pick a new day and time that would work better.
It’s your home, not a 24-hour grocery store. You are in charge of the schedule. If you have soccer practice on Tuesdays and someone calls Tuesday afternoon asking if they can come by that night, tell them you are unavailable then but you are available ______. You name the day and times. Make sure to not stress out over every phone call, and don’t feel like you have to drop everything for every showing. It will be ok.
Selling your house can be really stressful and takes a lot of hard work and team work. Remember to take a deep breath and don’t let the craziness overtake you. Ask for help from others and set the expectations for yourself and your family. It will all work out, and the right buyer will come along. Good luck selling!
What are your tips for surviving selling your house?