The Woes of Selling a House with a Toddler

The Woes of Selling a House with a Toddler

There’s no sugar-coating it; moving is terrible. It’s hard work, it’s emotional, and our family always has WAY more stuff than we think we do. My husband and I have stopped saying things to each other like, “It won’t be that bad,” because it’s just not true. It’s always bad. I have started to get used to all of the woes of moving since we have done it so many times in the past few years, but this move is different. This time we have a full-fledged Toddler Tornado, and the list of moving woes has grown.

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The real estate joke in the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross, is that ABC stands for Always Be Closing. However, when you’re the homeowner trying to sell your house, I think ABC actually stands for Always Be Cleaning. I’ve read several articles about staging your house for potential buyers, and several of them have said something like “Once you have done your deep clean on the house, doing maintenance cleaning isn’t too bad.” I can imagine that’s true…if you don’t have a toddler. There is something just so disheartening about putting all the cleaners away, thinking, “Phew, I did it!” only to find smudgy hand prints all over the windows that I JUST cleaned AND then finding the alphabet puzzle strewn all across the floor. By the way, I thought I had hidden that puzzle.

Even though I really do need to be cleaning as often as possible, I get bogged down with WHEN I should clean everything. Sure, the kitchen floor is currently the dirtiest place in our house (it would make sense to start there), but there will be crumbs and Cheerios everywhere before I can even put the mop away. What can I clean 24-48 hours in advance that won’t get undone by Toddler Tornado? The answer is not much. The majority of the cleaning usually happens a few hours before a showing with a great deal of help from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. When I hear that the fourth Mouse-ka Tool is being used, I know I have to pick up the pace and by the time the Hot Dog dance is blaring, it’s over. What’s done is done. Toddler Tornado will be back in his room dumping out all the Mega Bloks and pushing all the neatly arranged stuffed animals off the shelf before I can turn off the TV.

I always get a sense of excitement when I see a new request for a showing (maybe this is the person that is going to buy our house!), but Mom Mode quickly kicks in and says, “please don’t be during nap time, please don’t be during nap time…” Our family made the decision to allow showings anytime, but nap time is very structured and sacred (for all of us), so we usually pay the price for deviations from that schedule. However, selling our house is our priority right now, so we use the promise of French fries to get us through those cranky afternoons.  

Then there is the Mommy Guilt that I just can’t help but have while selling our house. I feel guilty that he watches more TV than normal while I clean (however, this is nothing but a positive in his eyes). I feel guilty that even when I make sure I am spending dedicated one-on-one time with him, my mind wanders to all the things I should be doing to get the house in shape. I feel guilty that I limit messy food and messy activities because I just can’t bring myself to clean one more thing that day. We’ll finger paint all sorts of pretty pictures when we’re on the other end, sweet boy.

Despite all the woes, I constantly remind myself that this stage of our life is temporary; someday our house will sell and someday our toddler won’t give the windows kisses when Daddy leaves for work. Truth be told, I’m going to miss the window kisses. He may be messy, but he’s always worth the Windex.

Have you been in the process of buying or selling a home with little ones? Any tips and tricks?

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