Self-Care-Friendly Ways to Make Your Home Show-Ready (Even When You Have Kids)

Thank you to Shirley Martin of Tidy Life Today for this guest post!

We all know the struggles associated with keeping a clean house once you have children. These are amplified when you are ready to move on and put your house on the market, making it very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the extra duties on top of work and family. But now is not the time to panic and sacrifice your self-care practices. In fact, with a little planning, you can streamline your daily cleaning efforts to ensure you are ready to showcase what you’ve got.

Why Clean is Important

Having a clean home makes your property more appealing to buyers. While a bit of disorganization may not be a make or break a buyer’s decision, dirt, grime, and the appearance of neglect will. Another issue that you have to tackle is clutter. Fortunately, if you purge your house of the things you no longer need for everyday life, everything else will fall into place.

Getting Ready

One of your very first tasks is to explain to the kids what, exactly, is going on. While this might not be entirely possible with toddlers and babies, older kids and teenagers will understand, and they can be your most valuable allies in your cleaning efforts. But you cannot just throw out the demand that their rooms must be spotless 100 percent of the time. One thing you can do, however, is make cleaning fun. Once you have thinned out everyone’s belongings, House Beautiful suggests some cleaning games which can transform chore time into something the little ones will look forward to (and you can reward them with healthy snacks like natural popcorn and apples and peanut butter when they’ve finished).

Something else to consider early on is finding a housekeeper to help with things like making the beds, yardwork, and lunch preparation and cleanup. This will give you time to focus on keeping the kids in check and doing deep cleanings when they are needed. (If you want help with anything other than light housekeeping, look for a maid service.)

Daily Doings

Selling a house is not a “set it and forget it” process. And now that things are neat and tidy, you have to implement a daily and weekly cleaning routine. Make a chore chart and assign at least one job to every member of your house each day. The youngest members of your family might, for example, sort the dirty laundry, while you and your spouse or partner tackle more pressing matters, such as vacuuming and cleaning out the refrigerator.

Daily chores to keep in mind are sweeping, making the beds, and emptying and reloading the dishwasher. Weekly, dust all the hard surfaces in your home, deep clean the bathrooms, and sweep the deck, porch, and patio. Make sure that everyone understands the importance of picking up after themselves and adopt a “touch it once” policy when it comes to personal belongings, such as toys, school books, and devices. CNBC advocates this type of mentality in a work setting, but it’s also useful at home, and especially if you are a work-at-home parent.

Show Day Smells

If you’ve done your deep cleaning and managed to get everyone on board with your new daily routine, it should be relatively easy to prepare once your realtor calls. One of the greatest challenges is eliminating odors, particularly if you cook at home often or have pets. Remember, even if you think your house smells like a bed of roses, your olfactory senses have likely adapted. Your buyers’ have not. Make sure to take out the trash, freshen up the garbage disposal, and clean any offending foods out of the refrigerator or pantry before your next showing. If possible, open the windows and turn your air conditioner on, making sure that you have a new filter in place.

While it is not always easy to keep the house clean when you have kids, there are few measurements you can put into place now to make the process easier. Remember, start by decluttering, and then implement a daily to-do list. On show days, things should be neat, tidy, and odor-free so that your home’s next family can more easily envision themselves in the space.

A tidy living room with two couches, a TV, and a living room table with a few items on top of it.
This listing at 2701 Cortlandt Street appears tidy but lived-in in the best possible way.