On the Move…with Kids

My husband and I have been searching for a larger home since we found out we were expecting our moving boxthird son. We live in a 1,000 square foot house in Pittsburgh, so while I know people certainly have raised more kids in less space, we are really itching to get the baby’s crib out of our bedroom and have room to reassemble our bookshelves. We finally found a house! So now we need to show our current house…

We’ve lived here for 8 years and have accumulated a mountain of things. Each time I work up the nerve to tackle a corner of a room, I am overwhelmed by the heaps of paper we’ve gathered. So much paper! My boys have squirreled away thousands of tiny scraps of things, worksheets from school, flyers that come in the mail. And my husband still gets paper copies of bills and important papers. I usually get through about half a recycling bag before someone needs to nurse or have a bottom wiped.

I’ve gotten a lot of advice and tried some different things along the way. Here are the tips that have been most useful for us so far for staging/showing our house:

1. Get help with the kids. My boys are 5, 3, and 9-months old, so they’re more interested in unpacking the boxes than actually helping us. We’ve enlisted the help of a bunch of tweens to come over and play with the boys while we pack or clean. We’ll get these same kids to come over periodically while we unpack at the new house. If I didn’t have the spare cash to hire these tweens, I’d definitely barter with another mom. I can get three times the amount of work done with them occupied than I can with them under foot.

2. Tackle one room at a time. I haven’t been very successful at this, because I get overwhelmed and give up and just move to a new project, but I’m tripping all over things in the hallway and I know it’d be easier to just pare down one room and move on to the next.

3. Give everyone specific jobs. My walls are filthy about 2-3 feet from the ground, right at the height where messy hands have been leaning on them for years. Luckily, my boys like to scrub things. When I’ve got them scrubbing walls or peeling up tape, they are less likely to intercept my recycling purges. My husband is equally overwhelmed by the task of staging our house, so he also does better with specific tasks like “whack the weeds.”

4. If you can, rent a storage unit. We bought this house from a family with 3 kids, and when we toured it, I thought, “Holy Moses, they have a lot of crap.” They had dressers in the hallway and cribs in the master bedroom. Now, we do, too, but we don’t want to turn away potential buyers because of it. We rented a storage unit, filled it to the brim, and still can’t move without tripping over Beatrix Potter books. At least now, we can cram what’s left in the basement and hope the rooms seem spacious.

5. Know your audience. We live in a neighborhood that’s really attractive to young families right now, which is good, because we would like to sell to a young family (or a young couple planning to start a family). So, if we can’t remove every shred of evidence of the kids, we’re not going to have a stroke about it.

6. Surrender. I know all the fancy websites say to boost curb appeal by buying colorful flowers and power wash the deck and fill all the nail holes. I know this. But I’m sitting on my couch staring at holes in the walls from the baby gates of the previous owners. I’m just accepting that things will work out.

7. Get out of Dodge. We are having our realtor take our house photos on the last day of school, so everyone will either be at school or daycare. We’re not making the house open to show until we are out of town for a long weekend, so that we don’t have to worry about insanely cleaning the place in between each showing. Just one big mega-scrub (while the tweens have the boys at the park) and then we hop directly in the car for our mini-vacation.

So that’s what I’ve got so far. Everything takes twice as long as I imagined, and I thought it would all take a pretty long time. I spent 2 hours yesterday just taking stuff off the fridge!

Have you prepped a house to sell with young kids around?

Leave us a comment to share your best tips!

Image source: Meathead Movers/Flickr

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