for-sale-sign

“Show Ready” My Eye

Things around the Norton household have been in tumult lately. We’re moving in about 35 days and as of today, we’re still unsure of where we’re moving to. Sigh. It’s a long story for another day, perhaps.  Today, I want to talk about the laughable concept of having a “show ready” home…with kids.

If you’ve ever sold a house before with children under foot, the phrase “show ready” can make your skin crawl. It can be done, mind you, but it has a way of making you into the Nagging Mom Monster as you follow your kids around the house barking out orders of things that need to be done, picked up, taken care of, NOW.

For the most part, my kids are in the habit of keeping things somewhat tidy around here so it hasn’t been as bad as our previous experiences when we’ve sold homes with much younger children. Except for the pee on the seat. Older boys = tall enough to pee standing up = more pee on the seat. Does that ever get better? I can confidently say the reminder I’ve thrown out the most this particular home-selling goes something like this…

“The toilet bowl is large, on purpose. You essentially have a gun – AIM IT so your whiz goes INSIDE the toilet bowl and not ON the toilet bowl.”

Okay, so I don’t have “a gun” and I don’t know how apparently impossible it is to hit a target that’s 18 inches in diameter from one foot away, but seriously – can it really be that difficult?

Sigh. Moving on because this post isn’t about my three boys peeing on the toilet seat. Every time. No, this post is about a few things I did to ease the burden of having a “show ready” home with kids. Nothing I’m about to say is awe-inspiring. In fact, you probably already know these things, but in the event that something in this post can help a family’s home-selling go smoother than planned, then I’ve fulfilled my purpose in writing it. Ready?

First, I purchased Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and did it! Haven’t heard about “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?” You need a friend named Tori in your life. Or, if you’re not fortunate enough to have Tori in your life, you can Google it. Now, mind you, this is not something you’d have time to fully complete in a couple weeks before you list your house. I started this process about 5 months ago when my husband and I began toying with the idea of listing our house. It took me about 2 months to feel ‘done’ with the process. So if you think you’ll be listing your house in the upcoming months, I cannot stress enough how incredibly vital this step of ridding your home and life from everything that clutters it up was to keeping my home tidier and therefore more “show ready.” If you don’t have a lot of crap, it’s hard to accumulate! Also, it’s made packing much less complicated. No sense in packing and moving a bunch of stuff we don’t use and don’t care for. I’ll post about this event in more detail sometime and share with you a few insights I had on doing this with four children. The author, Marie Kondo, doesn’t have children and some of the stuff recommended is a little…different with kids. Again, another day.

Second, we held a family meeting and took the challenge on, together. Ours was as informal as sitting around the table after dinner. But we made it “official” by announcing we were having a ‘family meeting’ so their eyes got big and their ears perked up. I took a painfully long moment and described how heavy the burden of having a home that’s clean enough to show at a moment’s notice is on parents. I was very specific about the amount of work it was too. In fact, as long-winded as I am I’m sure I greatly exaggerated some things in order to get my point across. 😉  We ended by making sure they knew that this home has been good to us and it belongs to all of us. If we want to sell it, it’s going to take the effort of the whole Norton Family Team (Our family team name is so lame. We need to go back to the drawing board on that one…I’d put it on the ‘another day’ list, but it’s getting kind of long), and then we briefly outlined some extra things we’d be expecting of our kids.  For example, we usually only require them to pick up and clean their rooms on Saturday. In order to sell our home, their rooms couldn’t be gross. They would do their part by picking up their room everyday before school.  Now, lest you think our family team meeting went flawlessly perfect, let me assure you that there were normal Norton family interjections and interruptions which at our house, always includes punching or shoving. Why?! Will they ever get along? Moving on.

Finally, I packed up everything that gets dumped. I think you know what I’m talking about. The toys and other miscellaneous crud that doesn’t necessarily get played with – just dumped and scattered so the kids can comfortably go about playing with…not those things. The stuff they make a mess of so they can find and get to the stuff they actually want. Is it doll clothes? Legos? Magformers? Baseball cards? Loom bands? In my home, it was a conglomeration of these things in the loft upstairs. Yes they have a ‘home’ – I had dutifully put them all in colorful little toy cubbies. But are they ever there? Only on Saturdays when someone has the “clean the toy room” chore on their list. So instead of fighting against them, I won the battle by packing them up. In fact, I went through each of my kids’ rooms with them and simply asked “What can you do without for three months?” Whatever they pointed to got packed up too. It makes complete sense – the less toys and miscellaneous items they have, the more likely you’re not going to be running through your house like a mad man scooping up armfuls of ‘things’ to shove under the bed before you’re kicked out of your home for a showing. Pack. It. Up.

Phew. See? Nothing eye-opening. Just a few recommendations that have made all the difference in this “show ready” business I’ve been running. All this talk of packing and moving reminds me that I’ve still got a lot of that left to do. Wish me luck.

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