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Tips For Keeping Your House “Showing Ready” When You Have Kids

Getting a house ready for the market is stressful! No doubt about it! You suddenly notice every flaw that had somehow escaped your eye the entire time you lived in your home.

You nitpick your home harder than probably anyone else will. You end up driving yourself insane. The truth of the matter, though, is that just putting forth the effort to make your home presentable will get you ahead of many other homes on the market.

When we were searching for our current home, we discovered that a lot of folks don’t actually do very much to make their home more desirable. It’s an odd choice, for sure.

I mean, you wanna sell quickly and get top dollar, right? However, going too far to the other end of the spectrum is only going to add stress to you and your family… stress that is probably unnecessary. Like all things in life, balance is the key.

We are preparing to put our home on the market again in the near future. Having just “been there, done that” 2 years ago, I learned a few tip and tricks along the way that I plan to implement again to keep our home “showing ready.”

Moving is just a part of life and I know many of you will do it at some point over the next 2-5 years. Maybe you’re in the process RIGHT NOW too. Well, then you’re in luck because today I’m sharing 6 tips for keeping your house showing-ready without losing your mind, even if you have kids!

1. Make certain rooms off-limits to keep them clean.

Some might say this is unrealistic but I think it’s effective and a huge time savings. You will save yourself a lot of headaches if rooms don’t get used and cluttered unnecessarily.

For example, only let your kids get out toys if they’ve asked and you know where they plan on playing with them. Otherwise, a room can get pulled apart very quickly when there’s no limit to the number of toys they can play with.

We have a toy closet and I put a childproof handle on the doorknob. It keeps the younger kids out while reminding the older children that they need to ask permission before opening that door.

If your home has multiple full bathrooms, you should also consider just using one and making the other(s) off-limits. Cleaning a number of bathrooms can really cut into your time as you prep for a showing. Lock the doors if you need to.

2. Have a campout.

Let’s face it, children make a huge mess in their rooms, even when in there for short amounts of time. If you have an early morning showing or just want to ensure the children’s bedrooms stay clean, have a campout in your living room.

The kids love the excitement of doing this because it’s fun and different. I even have the kids change into a new outfit for the next day the night before (instead of pajamas).

Then, when they wake up, we just fold the throw blankets and we are ready to leave the house clean and ready to go for a day of showings!

3. Get Organized.

It’s key to practice good organization during this time. Using appointed tubs, containers, and drawers to organize all the little toys that children have makes it so much easier to put them away when the time comes.

They know exactly where the toys belong. If you have multiple children and bedrooms and choose to use tubs for organizing all the little knick-knacks and toys, you can color code the tubs for each specific room.

Tub O Towels

4. Keep “bug-out bags” ready.

If you’re a prepper or have ever spent time around anyone who is, you’ll probably have heard of a bug-out bag. Well, I am borrowing this from them because it’s too good.

In simple terms, a bug-out bag is a backpack or other easy-to-carry container that is prepared ahead of time for if disaster strikes and you must leave your home quickly. If you have a late notice showing request, you’re prepared to go, go, go!

A typical bug-out bag is full of survival items. So what “survival” items do you need for when you have to leave the house quickly with the kids in tow? Some examples might include:

  • diapers
  • wipes
  • toys, games, or other entertainment
  • season-appropriate inclement weather gear
  • DVDs if your vehicle has an entertainment system
  • change of clothes in case of accidents

Really, many moms will have a lot of this in a diaper bag anyway. However, having the bug-out bag(s) ready for each appropriate age can be very helpful in these situations.

5. Keep clutter bags ready.

This is a similar idea to the bug-out bags. If you have a late notice request for a showing and you don’t have time to clean up some specific clutter properly, simply toss it into this bag and take it with you as you leave.

Toss it in your trunk for the time being. When you return home after the showing, you can organize it then.

A word of warning, though! Don’t let this make you complacent towards all clutter! (It’s human nature to do so.) This is only for if you’ve just walked in and have no alternative.

6. Have Great Cleaning Supplies Handy

I recently discovered Tub O’ Towels and I LOVE them. They work well, exceptionally well! When completely unfolded, they’re about the size of a paper towel and stand up to firm scrubbing.

The thing I like best about them is that they aren’t harsh. I try to be mindful about using natural products, however, I’m not perfect at it.

Tub O’ Towels uses some type of gentle additive that they refer to as Bond Buster. Bond Buster instantly breaks this static molecular bond, freeing dirt, grime, and grease for easy removal with biodegradable cleaning agents appropriate for use in a hand wipe.

So, in other words, it is free from harsh chemicals but still works incredibly well.

Because it is so gentle, Tub O’ Towels wipes are safe to use on almost any surface. In addition, Tub O’ Towels have lanolin, vitamin E, and aloe added in to help protect your hands and leave them moist.

It also means they are safe enough for me to hand off to each of my kids and instruct them on where to clean. Having them help me keeps them out and trouble AND gets the job finished faster. Win-win!

Tub O Towels

The regular heavy-duty Tub O’ Towels are wonderful. However, they also come in other versions made for specific surfaces around your home and even your vehicle!

They’re available in:

I keep all the applicable Tub O’ Towels varieties around our home (which is all of them except for granite and marble). They’re lifesavers!

As one example, we have stainless steel appliances which means one thing… fingerprints everywhere. Ugh! It seems like I can’t keep little hands off of these things.

A quick wipe down with the stainless steel wipes, however, have them sparkling in just a few seconds. Just look at the difference on my refrigerator door below. The left side has not been wiped yet while the right side has.

Tub O Towels

It literally takes less than 2 minutes to wipe it down with the Tub O’Towels Stainless Steel wipes and makes such a HUGE difference!

The carpet and upholstery wipes are wonderful for a quick spill cleanup on carpet, chairs, or couches where you don’t have time to break out some spray and wait for it to dry. The heavy-duty wipes, of course, are best for general cleaning. I use these things constantly now.

There was a spot on our ceiling where the previous owners had splashed food particles (I know, don’t ask me how!). We thought we were going to have to repaint the entire ceiling because of the stains.

Before we painted though I thought to myself, might as well try Tub O’ Towels, and you know what, it worked! My husband and I were ecstatic!

Keep a variety pack of these on hand for fast and effective cleaning before showings! I put mine in a handy carrying caddy so I can move it from room to room for quick cleanings before showings.

Tub O Towels

7. Use only a single trash can.

If you have a lot of those small wastebaskets around, consider making them off-limits to trash (haha, that sounds funny) and only put your garbage in one specified waste bin such as the one in your kitchen.

When a showing is coming, you won’t have to waste time running around emptying small wastebaskets and can, instead, know that only one requires your attention. It’ll make your tidying up so much easier!

Alternatively, if you don’t want to have to bother with emptying and replacing the bag in the kitchen trash, you can simply keep a bag hanging from a specified door where all trash is deposited.

When a showing is coming, just toss that bag into your main trash cans or, if it isn’t full, take it with you for the time being and hang it back up when you return home.

8. Get out of the house.

Once our house is on the market, the kids and I get up, eat breakfast, and then try to spend our day somewhere other than our house. Find places you can take the kids that are cheap or free.

Some places we like to visit are the library, museums, the mall, the park, and the ever-popular ChickFilA with an indoor playground! When you aren’t home, you can’t make new messes!

9. Splurge on disposables.

I typically don’t like to buy paper plates, bowls, or plastic cutlery. You’re literally throwing money away with those. BUT, when we are showing our house, they are lifesavers!   

You’ll wash fewer dishes, saving you time to clean other areas of your house. This also means your dishwasher will likely be clean and empty when people come to view your home.

10. Have a checklist.

When you are busy trying to make sure your home looks great for a showing, it’s easy to forget something before you head out the door. Especially small things that you’ve become accustomed to, like child safety locks on doors or the dog food dishes in the kitchen.

Having a checklist makes sure you don’t miss any important prep steps. Below is a copy of our checklist. I keep a freshly printed checklist on the refrigerator so when we are notified of a showing, I can go through each item and make sure it’s checked off before we head out the door.

Feel free to print it off for yourself! Just click on the image to bring up a full-size printable version.

11. Adjust your expectations.

Your house isn’t going to be perfect, nor perfectly clean if you have to live there. Just accept it, do the best you can, and go easy on yourself.

This is probably the most important tip in here. Accepting your limitations is okay. Obviously, this doesn’t mean letting clutter and mess get away from you and destroying all your hard work and preparation up until this point. It simply means to cut yourself some slack and don’t expect perfection.

You and your family will have needs when you are trying to sell your home. Don’t let that time on the market be a miserable one!

Enjoy doing family stuff and don’t let your entire home become a sterile, untouchable box that you just happen to be residing in.

Your buyers are people too. They’ve seen dust. They’ve seen fingerprints on windows. They have them at their current house!

Related Posts

If your children are old enough, make sure they are helping to keep your home showing-ready by having them responsible for a few chores. I’ve got a huge list of age-appropriate chores for kids.

Sadie Ake

Sunday 10th of November 2019

Great Blog. If you're cleaning post-move, do the fridge first. Do the rest of the kitchen. Onto the bathrooms. Tackle the rest of the space. Finish with the floors.

Janessa Lessor

Friday 12th of July 2019

Just started following you. Found a post I liked from Pinterest. It also turns out we have the same first name! It’s not very common :) Live your blog so far and can’t wait to see more. Thanks!

Trisha McKee

Monday 15th of October 2018

My mother-in-law recently sold her house, so yes, I understand the stress of it all. I wish we had tub o towels to get through the cleaning. I will definitely be seeking them out in the near future.

kathy pease

Monday 15th of October 2018

These towels would be so great especially when the grandkids come to visit

Brandon Sparks

Monday 15th of October 2018

I could really use this for so many things. It would be great to have these..