In the Trenches, Part 1: Listing a house. With kids.


Oh, you have kids? And you want to sell your house? STOP IMMEDIATELY, and ask yourself the following:

  1. Have you been drinking?
  2. Are you taking mind-altering drugs of any kind?
  4. Are you sure?

Because selling your house is TEN SHADES OF CRAZY, and I’m just getting started.

First, get “all the things” ready. Have that brutally honest, #nofilter friend (you know the one) tour your house and give “just-being-honest” feedback. Go fix things you’ve been meaning to tackle “sometime.” Professionally clean carpets. Paint all signs of your pint-sized Picasso’s artistic wall adventures. HIDE. THE. MARKERS. Because if your kid is like mine, there will be masterpieces on those newly cleaned carpets as soon as the carpet cleaner leaves your home. #TrueStory

Declutter. You might officially realize you’re a hoarder when you start this process. It’s OK. We all do. Snag plastic tubs that fit under beds and get busy. Smuggle out extra toys at naptime. Donate or consign unneeded things. Less visible stuff= less stress when there’s a showing “in 15 minutes.” A basket for “last minute crap” is a lifesaver when you’re running out the door like FloJo.

Behold. The “last minute decluttering” basket in all its glory.

Crunch numbers. Most realtors will get ~6% of the selling price, so find out how much you owe on your home. Divide that number by .94 to get the lowest number you’ll need to hit to break even. If you’re in an area where the buyer will likely need you to chip in on closing costs, add that in too. Meet with your realtor to determine starting list price, knowing that you’ll need to leave wiggle room for negotiations. 

Set the stage. Create a “Welcome Home” binder noting selling points of your home (updates, neighborhood/school info, homeowners dues, etc). I found lots of ideas for staging on Pinterest; here’s the one for the binder below, from Such the Spot. Check out comparable area homes – What sets your home apart? Remember, you’re creating a story for buyers about what your home could be for them. And they might be very different from you. 

The Binder. Great ideas from Pinterest (including templates!)

Occupy kids. If you have a toddler, you’re familiar with having everything you clean destroyed within 5 minutes. Occupying kids is important to ensure the house STAYS CLEAN. Y’know, like you don’t live there. Give kids an age-appropriate daily job. Praise them like they just won Olympic gold when they do it. Resort to X-box/Netflix/iPad gadgets for those “don’t-touch-anything” moments before a showing. If all else fails, promise ice cream. 

Get the stank out. No one wants a stinky house, am I right? Those pets that you love so much might be sabotaging your home – I admit that going “noseblind” was one of our biggest challenges with regard to our beloved pets! Also, be careful about cleaners you use since some have a lingering funk-tastic aftersmell. I like Method and Mrs. Meyers for lighter “clean” scents. There’s a fine line between “fresh/clean smell” and “burning-hellfire-eyeballs” or “trying too hard.” I walk that line. Think fresh spring garden, not public pool.

Fave Mom hacks:

  • Paper plates/cups. Dish pile in the sink, be gone! BONUS: If you have occasional dirty dishes, stash them in the empty dishwasher. #winning
  • Magic Eraser. Buy several packs. Because, toddlers. And pets. And husbands.
  • Laundry. Get a big hamper with a lid to quickly stash anything in the bedroom that is out. No room? Put clothes in the washer or dryer.
  • Carpet protector. Spread this sticky stuff wherever your kids/pets might track muddy feet – it’ll save you a ton in carpet steaming efforts. We liked this one, which was easy to add and remove quickly.

Make a “walk-out checklist.” Before showing, check the basics: Lights on? Blinds open? Potties flushed? Computer screen off? (Because it would be terrible to rush out the door and leave the screen open to your online shopping cart full of Spanx. Which I did.. Once.) 

Now, pretend you don’t live in your home every day until it sells. That’s not weird or stressful at all, right? 

Stay tuned for more adventures from the trenches …

Dish it: What are your best tricks for keeping sane while selling? How long did it take to sell your house?




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Jeanie is a perfectly imperfect mama, transplanted to Cordova fresh out of graduate school. She and her husband, Matt, had no intent on making Memphis “home” – but ten years later, they’re still here (and love it!). They have three saucy gingers, along with three “fur babies”. Between homeschooling and chairing graduate Psychology departments online, life is never boring in the Whinghter house. It’s no surprise that Jeanie fancies coffee, but she also loves bargain shopping and embarrassing her children with her questionable singing/dancing skills. She’s had more #PinterestFails that she can count and has perfected the art of giving a good pep talk (watch out, puberty!). Motherhood has slowly transformed her into the “uncool” Mom she thought she’d never be, yet she’s never felt cooler or more content with her life.