1. Utilize naptimes and early bedtimes
Let’s get the biggest and hardest one out of the way immediately. Selling your home takes a lot of time. You can’t tackle anything without it! But having a baby or toddler can make accomplishing tasks incredibly difficult. Is it hard to get your kid down? More than likely. And, of course, when you NEED them to go to sleep, they never do. But – put your kids down for naps and bedtimes early and often. Maybe they don’t sleep, maybe they do, but at the very least they are resting their bodies. So, while their busy either sleeping, reading in bed, or resting you have to burn the midnight oil. I know you’re tired, and by the end of the day, all you want is to have a relaxing evening, but this is when you have to suck it up. While they are in their respective rooms, you need to do the work around the rest of the house.
2. Clean out closets and clothing
Figure out what you will keep, sell or donate. All clothing, unless it is going to be used for a rag, should be clean and presented well. Consignment stores and yard sales have much better results if clothing is clean and not wrinkled. So make sure to go through ALL of your children’s laundry, and wash them with a product like all® free clear detergent and all® free clear Mighty Pacs®, which fights those really harsh stains well, and has no dyes, perfumes, or irritating residues. I choose these products because it is the #1 recommended detergent by dermatologists and pediatricians alike for those with sensitive skin (which both of my kiddos have.) As the #1 Sensitive Skin Brand, all® free clear detergent was awarded the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association for having no dyes, perfumes, certain chemicals, and irritating residues – and also removes 9 99% of all the bad stuff from clothes like every day allergens that range from dog and cat dander to ragweed, or tree pollen. (But know that the product is not meant to treat or prevent allergies.) By washing and organizing all of my laundry, I know that everything in my children’s closets is clean, age appropriate, and all other clothing is ready to be given or sold to other families with little ones. (Another big tip is to put your clean baby clothing on small hangers for yard sales! Hangers give the impression that your kids clothing is super new!)
3. Make a checklist
It’s easy to get caught up and run around frantically while you get your disaster of a house ready for the one showing that *might* be the one. Especially while your toddler follows in your footsteps and undoes nearly every ounce of work you just completed. The tasks seem endless. But, if you have a checklist of to-do’s, and you follow that list thoroughly, it’s easier to maintain as you go, and it’s less stress for you to think of EVERYTHING 20 minutes before an open house. So sit down one night, take an honest measure of what needs to be done when the pressure is off, write it down, and when the call comes, you have a calm, collected list to chop away at.
4. Enlist help
Whether it’s from your parents, in-laws, siblings, best friends, or even a babysitter – get someone to watch your kids as much as you can, or to help you wrangle them as you do the work you need. Babysitters aren’t always the most cost effective choice, but if you have the money, then do it. Or if you need to be a little frugal, call your best friends or your parents for some assistance. Buy them dinner, give them an adult beverage or two, and they’ll have no problem watching your little rascals for a couple hours.
5. Use your car for extra storage
I know, you’re car is probably already a disaster to begin with. You have kids! But, I learned this trick out of necessity. We all just have too much stuff. Of course, years of marriage and two kids can do that to you. So, a lot of stuff just sits around and there is no home for it. It’s just…there. The best thing you can do is get the clutter, put it in your trunk (which hopefully you’re keeping as clear as possible) and you can just go. Whether you get two hours notice, or ten minutes, this is one of those quick fixes for all the stuff you have.
6. Minimize the amount of toys in a home
Many people shopping for homes don’t have kids, and the clutter can be a big turn off. You may think it’s cute, or you think things are organized, but to the non-kid untainted eyes, it’s just junk. And you know, as well as I, junk never sells. I know you’re kids have a veritable treasure trove of toys that would even make FAO Schwartz jealous, but you’ve gotta find a way to downsize, or hide them as best as possible. Time consuming, laborious, and certainly redundant – yup, all of those things. But this is a must-do task.
7. Stage your playroom
I know most of you probably have one of these rooms. I do too. And, there are some toys/ items in your house (art easels, desks, etc.) that just can’t be moved. The playroom is where it is, and where it ever shall be until it finds it’s way to the dump because your kid’s finally in college. So, do your best to make it look as pleasing to the non-kid eye as possible. Now, you don’t have to get all Bob Ross on me and make a pretty painting with happy little trees, but maybe set up the paints, chalk, or whatever like a little studio. Or, set your toys up in a fun interesting way. We made a neat book nook for example. Clean, orderly, and practical!
8. Emergency “quick bins”
As we have said before, we all have too much stuff. Even your kids. Your kids have more stuff, and toys, and clothes than you can ever imagine. But there’s that stuff that just doesn’t have a home and always gets placed in a room, only to move to another room, just to move to another room, and then make it’s way back into the original place that it started at the beginning of the week. Unless, of course, it makes a detour and manages to mosey it’s way underneath your feet as you try to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You know what I’m talking about – that random puzzle piece that shows up every three days. Or the magically re-appearing set of socks that one always finds under your side table. All this stuff is just….there. So with the unfortunate problem of not having a home for it – I just take a quick run around the house before I leave and throw all that junk in one emergency bin. Whatever it is, it goes in the bin. I’ll figure it out later. And possibly put this bin in your car as well.
9. Get your kids involved (minimally)
If your child is old enough, he is probably going to ask questions, or want to help. Give them small manageable tasks like putting toys in the bin, or books back on their respective shelves. Maybe even let them throw all that junk in the car or in the emergency quick bin. It’s probably all their stuff anyway!
10. Take plenty of breaks
True, this is counter intuitive to everything I just wrote. But, don’t forget this is really stressful! And as much as it is stressful for you, it can be equally as stressful for your kids. Think about it, all of their stuff is being moved around, you probably have a quicker temper when something gets messed up, they’re being scooped up, and whisked away, and every time someone wants to see your home — their routine (that ever loving, precious, golden routine) is being constantly interrupted! (Whew, even just writing that out made me a little stressed!) So be sure to take a step back, love on them a little bit, take the time to give them an extra hug, or even eat with them. You’re doing hard work, but it’s worth it. Love on yourself too.
And remember, while you are cleaning your home, to try to use this opportunity to organize, sell or donate. Less “stuff” in your home will make your move a TON easier on you! I’m a HUGE fan of selling children’s clothing at yard sales, or even online yard sales which can be found on Facebook. If you’re looking to sell your clothing, I really recommend washing it with all® free clear detergent, which can be picked up at pretty much any store that sells laundry products – I found mine at CVS!