Our house has been on the market for 2 months now. Selling this house has been hard in every sense of the word. I’ve had grouchy days and moments when I’ve lost my patience with one of the kids for dumping out all the trains 10 minutes before we had to show the house.
I think it’s hard for any person to keep their house clean all the time, but when you add a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a toddler who are home all day, it would seem impossible. You can see why I’ve been taking a blogging break. My housework has had to take a priority if we wanted to sell this house. But keeping the house ready to show is not impossible.
In fact, for us, that stage is wrapping up and we’re starting to pack and prepare to move. It hasn’t been easy, but with each passing week, it gets a little bit easier as I learn how to keep the house picked up and ready to show without losing my mind. Here’s how we’ve made it work.
1. Go to bed with a clean house.
If the house is clean when you go to bed, it’ll be clean when you wake up. This makes your life significantly easier when your kids wake up and you have to hit the ground running. While my coffee is brewing, I unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher so that I can keep loading it all throughout the day.
2. Switch to paper & plastic
I know it’s not exactly earth friendly, but using paper plates and cups can save you the headache of dishes. It’s hard enough to stay on top of laundry, sweeping, and dusting without having to excessive dishes. Cut yourself some slack here!
And if the realtor calls while your kids are having lunch, it’ll only take a few minutes to pick up before you skedaddle out of the house for a showing.
3. Don’t cook. Ever.
I’m kidding. Sort of.
Find easy meals to make and plan either one night out a week or something quick to pick up one night a week, just to give yourself a break. Our favorite quick meal lately has been to have “build your own salad night” once or twice a week. My kids love raw veggies, so this is lots of fun for them. I often bake chicken breasts or salmon fillets to go along with it.
4. Eat in one place in the house (and only one).
I realized I had become too relaxed with this habit. Not only did we eat in the kitchen and the dining room, but I also let my kids snack on goldfish in the living room. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but my clean-up time was cut down significantly when we switched to a the rule of only eating at the kitchen island. You’ll find you won’t need to vacuum and sweep as frequently once you keep this rule in place.
5. Have picnics
My kids think I’m such a fun mom because at least one night a week, we have a picnic outside for dinner. The truth is that it’s one less time for me to sweep and clean up. It makes my life easier.
Once the house looks great and your kids are dressed for the day, LEAVE! Go to story hour, play outside, go swimming, but plan a few activities away from the house every day so that there’s less time for the kids to pull out toys. We do a lot of outside play because it’s super fun and it means a cleaner house. I can often get a few minutes to relax and read while the kids play, so there’s a bonus for mommy. It’s a great way for me to de-stress.
7. Teach the kids to clean up their toys.
My kids were OK at cleaning their toys before, but now that I’ve had to really keep them accountable for cleaning, they’ve become even better at it. My 3 year old can even clean his own room. If you want your kids to clean, you’ll need to have their rooms really organized with a place for everything. It makes it easier for them to clean. (See how I organized it all here).
I’ve also explained the importance of selling our house so that we can move closer to daddy’s new job and be together as a family again. This motivates them, so when I run into their rooms and say “clean up kids, someone wants to see our house!” they really get to work. We’re all on the same team.
8. Keep cleaning supplies in each bathroom & in the kitchen.
I started doing this years ago, when I first had kids. It makes it easier to do a quick cleanup of one of the bathrooms before someone comes over. I find Lysol wipes and flushable scrub brushes make for quick bathroom cleanups.
9. Have an exit strategy.
This is your plan for what you’ll do when the realtor calls to show your house. If you get a 30 minute warning, what will you do? A good exit strategy can make it possible to show your house often. And that’s what will sell it. You never know when the right buyer is going to come along and you want to be ready.
My exit strategy looks something like this: 1) Throw dishes in the dishwasher 2) Do a quick kitchen sweep 3) Tidy up toys, etc with the kids 4) Do a quick wipe down of sinks 5) Have all children wait for me at the front door.
You might find it handy to load anything you see into an empty laundry basket, which you can put in your trunk and take with you. Whatever works! We sometimes grab the DVDs and find a place around town to watch a movie in the minivan while someone sees our house.
Have you been through this before? What tips do you have for keeping your house ready to show?