I've mentioned what I'm like when I am pregnant, right? Totally nutballs crazy. Okay, so me with the house on the market may just top that. There is so much to stress about. We are not made of that thing...what's it called? It's green and has faces on it. Yes, Money. Right. That's it. We are NOT MADE OF MONEY, so we had to sell our house before we could buy another one, which means we had to live in our house while it's on the market.
Living in your house with little children while it's on the market is stressful for a myriad of reasons. The showings are disruptive to your schedule since potential buyers want to come during naptime or after bedtime. Your house has to be clean ALL THE TIME, which is hard since tiny humans like to make messes all the time.
People want to know that it's a good home for families but don't want to know that any children actually live there. At first we put away all toys that weren't compact and cute. They had like 20 books out and some vintage blocks to play with... meaning we watched way too much dinosaur train. We also took down all baby gates and today my 8 month old just crawled (fell) down a half flight of stairs (not enough to hurt her, but enough to scare her).
There are rules to selling your home, but there are just some things you have to let go in order to survive the process. Here is my guide to living in your house with little kids while it's on the market:
Declutter your home and get your deep clean on
First thing you need to do (and this is if you have kids or not), is to make sure your home is completely decluttered. My husband and I went through all of our stuff in storage and said "Have we touched this since we moved in 4 years ago?" If we didn't, we donated it. We got rid of boxes upon boxes of books, household decor items, clothes, etc. Pretty much the only stuff we had left were some pictures, throw pillows, home brew equipment and tools. All that stuff, we organized in boxes and stacked in the garage. Our extra bedrooms that we used as crap rooms were once again extra bedrooms.
Now, it's time to deep clean. I hate deep cleaning, so my mom was amazing and came to help me plus she made it more fun. I would have hired this out if my mom hadn't been so generous with her time. I did, however, hire out a window cleaner. Best $185 I spent.
Put your kids first and keep the toys
I wish I would have thought this from the beginning. I like the idea of being a minimalist (but am not one by nature), so I was mean and only kept out a handful books and toys and stored everything else. After the first two weeks of constant stress, we made our lower level family room into a giant playroom for the kids. It was something I had been meaning to do for months, but hadn't gotten around to it. This allowed us to keep the kids toys and imaginative play (somewhat) contained. My son is no longer bored and we were able to cut back on the amount of TV I had him watching those first few weeks.
Quick & easy meals
For me, this was a ton of take out, frozen pizza and stuff that I could stir fry and then just quickly wipe down the surfaces. The first week was all take-out, but then I got fat, so I started to let myself cook things again, but only stuff that used minimal ingredients and hardly any prep work.
Make cleaning easy
The deep clean you do at the beginning of your process will make cleaning really easy for you as you go. I run the dishwasher every night, even if it isn't full, and unload it in the morning so that I can constantly be putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher rather than letting them pile in the sink. We make the bed in the morning, and I also wipe down all surfaces daily and my husband usually runs a vacuum over our hard surfaces. Then we do a little heartier cleaning (about 45 minutes) before open houses. All in all, our house has stayed relatively clean for over a month now just by taking seriously 10 minutes to maintain our state of cleanliness. It makes me wonder why I can't keep my house clean when it's not on the market.
Get someone to watch your pets
When your house is on the market, you need to be out of your house a lot. That means, you and the kids and your pets. What I found was that it's super hard to find things to do for an hour that were dog friendly.. Library? No dogs allowed. Park? Dogs allowed, but its too much work to deal with a baby, a toddler and a dog. Find someone who wants a trial run with your dog or cat and let your fur babies take a mini vacation. You'll miss them (I mean you will miss how they keep your floors clean by eating everything that falls on the floor), but it is just one less thing to think about.
Put restrictions on your showings
The first week our home was on the market we had no restrictions on when people could book showings. We had showings past bedtime and we would get them with an hour's notice. It was so stressful making sure the home was "show worthy" every time I left the house in case someone would want to show it while I was gone.
After the first week we said all potential buyers had to give 24 hours notice and no showings could go past 7. This allowed us to put our kids down at the regular time and give us the freedom to live in our home and plan accordingly for showings.
Let it go and trust your home will sell
Again, I've mentioned the stress I felt in this whole process. Finally one night my husband said, "Babe, you are worrying about the stuff. It's just stuff. Let it go. God will sell this house." His words were so freeing. I WAS worrying about the "stuff" that didn't really matter. The toys had to be perfect. The home had to look like pinterest. The pillows had to be fluffed all the time.
Now, I'm closer to a place of peace in this process. I still trust that our home will sell, but I believe that the buyer will want to buy our home despite the matchbox car I left on the coffee table or that my two year old got yogurt on our main window.
You have to let some things go so you don't miss out on living during this stage of life. It's just not worth it. Truth is, most buyers will give you more grace than you give yourself (that is until after the inspection, but that's a whole different story) and will see past the toys and your full trash can. Enjoy your tiny humans and let the stress go.