Hip Mom: 7 Tips for Selling Your House with 6 Kids
We are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled “hip” programming and discuss something that is very close to my heart right now: selling your house when you have children. One child, five children, 83 children — however many you have — it is just simply awful. And so many of us will have to endure this awful, awful process. Either voluntarily — perhaps you, like us, are moving to lovelier or bigger home (In our case, bigger. With six kids, we are building a gymnasium with a kitchen and a few potties) — here in dear old Tulsa, or your company may be moving you (and if you have one of those drool-worthy relocation packages where the company just buys your house for you, let me just hate you for one little minute. Thank you.). Maybe you are moving to a different city for work, or to be near family. But whatever the reason for your move, can I just recommend one thing?
NO, NO, NO, NO! Just DON’T DO IT! At least not until your children have moved out of the house semi-permanently and any pets you have owned are long since dead. Alas, if that is not an option – if you really do have to move – well, Godspeed to you, my dear friend. I will weep many tears for you and offer many, many prayers. I’m still in the thick of this selling/inspecting/moving mess, and I will likely not recover for many years. But here are a few tips I’ve learned so far:
1. Try to involve your children a bit in the pre-showing mad dash.
I armed my 4- and 6-year-olds with carpet cleaner and the instruction to spray a bit here and there on mystery spots on the rugs. They had a blast doing this, and were actually helpful (while I attended to less glamorous stuff like potties and window spots). And then they got tired of that, so we tried Glade Air Freshener! And then some lavender-scented all-surface spray! Which leads me to my next tip: Don’t let them try TOO many products. This potpourri of cleaning products made our home smell like a nuclear Pine Sol bomb had been detonated – you could even smell the Resolve from outside, coming up the porch. Too much of that, and your potential buyers might suspect you are trying to cover up an eau de corpse smell wafting in from the upstairs linen closet.
Alas, those older children don’t really care to help you clean unless you threaten them, and younger children are totally useless. In fact, 2-year-olds make things really bad. They like to spray windows with carpet foam.
2. Screen time is a fictionalized problem created by bored pediatricians with no children.
Screen time, when you have a showing in an hour and at least two children in diapers, is not a problem – it is SURVIVAL. Do what you have to do. In fact, if you have a showing at 5 p.m., and find out at 9 a.m., your children will likely stumble from XBOX to Wii to Sponge Bob to Care Bears for eight hours straight, with a bit of spittle coming out from their mouths, and you will be thrilled because no one is dumping out blocks. Come on! You will read to them in 2014. They’ll be fine.
3. The day – DAYS — you have an open house will be really, really awful.
You will clean, vacuum, sweat and yell (bonus: no gym!) from the moment you wake up right until 2 p.m. But then (if you are selling your house by owner, like we are), your husband will whisk your children magically away and you will get to hold the open house yourself. And you will sit in your clean, sparkling, quiet house, and it will be the best two hours of your week. Even if just a few people come to your open house (which is really depressing), you will at least have gotten some peace and quiet.
4. Just don’t even worry about your wine consumption right now, OK?
5. Your entire family – you will just all hate each other for a while.
You and your husband will have stupid tiffs about everything. He will be on edge about every Tarzhay receipt you bring home. Your kids will say things like, “You don’t have to get me much for my birthday since the house won’t sell.” Or your older one will say, “All you care about is selling the house!” Your heart will break. It will be miserable sometimes. But you are in this real estate mess together, and you will come out of it stronger.
6. There will be days when you don’t actually see your children as human beings; you will see these moving bodies that are liable to erupt into an explosive burst of Legos, poop or crumbs.
There will be days when you lose your will to live because the 2-year-old just poured the most evil, vile red Lunchable punch on the study carpet, prompting an emergency call to Stanley Steemer. Three-hundred dollars later, your carpets will look lovely. But then the Stanley Steemer guy will want to sell you his grout cleaning services. You had never thought about cleaning grout in your life, and politely decline. But then, THEN, you start studying grout. Grout starts to haunt you. And suddenly, there you are, in your spare six minutes each day, scrubbing the freaking grout with a toothbrush.
You will start to feel like the suburban house frau version of biblical Jonah, and wish maybe the whale would eat you too, because at least you wouldn’t have to clean the dang whale guts.
7. You will start to act like a teenager a little bit.
You will feel completely unhinged if you don’t know where your phone is. You will text realtors for “feedback,” and feel like a jilted 14-year-old when they don’t get back to you right away. And then – if you are me and you love your home, and you have poured gallons of love and Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon Verbena Cleaning Spray into it — you will be very, very sad when a realtor texts you back and says your house was too “cluttered” for his clients. You will scream, cry and shake your fist.
Don’t lose your faith, dear friend. You will get through this. Despair is the greatest sin. You may have to remind yourself that your kids may be total slobs, but they are healthy, thank goodness. Then again, you will also get really, really tired of those people who say, “Eh, don’t worry! It will work out just fine!” Sure, it probably will – but when? In two years, when you’ve spent every last dime you have on mortgages, Windex and touch-up paint and you have to tell your children that, alas, there are no more extracurricular activities, no more shoes, no more OREOS? While these sweet people mean well, all you want is a bit of empathy, and you will want to smack those smug single-mortgage people in the face.
So hey! Want to buy a house in South Tulsa? It is LOVELY, friends. A really good price, too. Just give me an hour or so advance notice to tidy up.