Moving House

By Victoria Brown

Keeping your home show-ready with little ones

Selling your home can be an exciting event, but with that excitement can come a lot of hard work, patience and stress. Selling your house with little kids often elevates this, but it doesn’t have to.

When we decided to sell our house, we knew we would have to be strategic in order to keep the house show-ready with a 6-year-old, 3-year-old, 2-year-old and a 6-month-old. It was overwhelming at first. If I couldn’t keep a house picked up on a normal day, how was I supposed to keep a house in pristine condition while we still lived there?

Throughout the process — and with the help of a good realtor — I was able to put systems in place that made it feel more streamlined and less chaotic. So when we got a last-minute phone call that someone wanted to view the house in an hour, I didn’t panic.

First, get rid of or pack up as much as possible before you list your home. Take down pictures, box up knickknacks and countertop décor, throw out clutter. The more you can clear out without making the house look vacant, the less you’ll have to clean up.

Second, give everything a place. While cleaning out what I could, I also created systems to quickly know where everything went that didn’t get packed up. The kids’ toys were not something we could get rid of all together, but using bins, hooks and shelves kept the house looking tidy. They weren’t fancy, but they were efficient. I packed away the toys with little pieces so we didn’t risk missing some in a hurried clean and kept ones that stored easily and didn’t make a mess (no Play-Doh or paint!).

Third is the matter of food. We changed our eating habits to have less to clean. With five people and a baby eating, there was the potential for a lot of dishes and messes at all times. We switched to paper goods that could quickly be thrown away and we ate a lot of meals on the back porch so that when the unavoidable messes were made, it was easier to clean up. This helped keep the floors inside cleaner without worry of what food particles made it under cabinets or splattered on the wall. We also took a little break from foods that were notoriously messy — applesauce, yogurt, popsicles, etc. — unless we were outside.

Fourth, we tried to leave the house show-ready every time we left for the day for the inevitable day that someone would want to see the house while we were all out and about. We started a nightly clean up routine, more than we had before selling our house. Before bed, we cleaned up messes and put toys in their assigned spots which made the mornings so much smoother.

And fifth, make it fun! Our kids were little, but the eldest three were old enough to have a “job” when it was time to clean out and clean up. Including little kids in any sort of cleaning can often feel counterproductive, but if I had jobs for them that helped them feel included, I could actually get more done because I knew their hands were busy!

There is no special formula for selling a house while you live there with little kids, but there are ways to make it more enjoyable. Figure out the systems that work for your family’s schedule and implement them so everyone knows what to expect each day. Simplify where you can. And try to have fun in the process!