A Busy Parent’s Primer to Conquering Clutter and Selling Your Home

4 Minute Read

Life with kids is hectic on a normal day. There’s oatmeal in your hair, a soccer jersey on the fan and crayon on the wall—and you haven’t even finished your first cup of coffee. To top it off, you just stepped on your umpteenth Lego of the morning (ouch!).

In the midst of it all, you have a home to sell. It’s you versus the clutter, and right now, the clutter is winning. You’re beginning to wonder if it’s possible to get it sold without selling the kids first.

We’ve got good news: You can keep your kids and your sanity!

Dawn Kirkland, one of Dave’s real estate Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) in Birmingham, AL, recently shared her secrets to stress-free selling success. Go from chaos to calm with these simple steps.

Send ‘Em Packing

The mountains of stuff, that is! It’s time to bust through the mess and make some decisions so your knickknacks don’t crowd buyers out. Feeling overwhelmed? Simply shift your mindset.


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“Act like you’re going to move!” Dawn suggests. “Sit down on your sofa and make a list. Take it one job, one closet, one room at a time. Set a specific goal every day.”

It’s okay if the goal is small as long as it’s attainable. For instance, tell yourself you won’t go to bed until you’ve cleaned out one shelf of the linen closet. If you knock out two shelves—or the whole closet—before the day is done, more power to you!

Home Buying Tips

Of course, sorting through a stack of towels can seem easy-breezy compared to Mount Mini-Me. But don’t let it intimidate you. Dawn offers a few painless pointers for conquering kid clutter:

—Ask Junior to pick a handful of favorite toys and books to keep in his room. (Reassure him the others won’t be gone forever!)

—Store extras in clear plastic bins in the garage or attic. Rotate toys out every few weeks.

—Place a basket in the living room so containing toys in a hurry is a piece of cake.

Engage Your Kids

Want to know a surefire way to make your job easier? Dawn says get the kids involved! It’s a great opportunity to teach them the value of hard work, and kids love contributing something important to the family.

Don’t know where to start? Try these kid-tested ideas on for size:

—Dangle a carrot. Promise your kids a surprise for being happy helpers. You don’t have to spend a lot to make it special. A day at the park with you is worth more than money can buy!

—Say thanks. If your kids do a great job, recognize their efforts with a handwritten thank-you note. This small gesture can build big motivation.

—Run drills. Assign each kid a job and practice getting your home show-ready. Up the fun by breaking into teams and racing to beat each other’s times.

—Show them the money. Give your kids the opportunity to earn bonus bucks by taking on extra jobs to help keep your home in peak condition.

Give Yourself Grace

Some mornings, it’s just not possible to get out the door with everything in its proper place. If you get a surprise call to schedule a showing before you can rush home to clean the dishes, don’t panic and miss an opportunity to get the right buyer into your home.

“Tell the agent what happened so they can prepare the buyer ahead of time,” Dawn advises. Buyers can often overlook a minor mess if they know what to expect before walking through your door.

And remember, just because your home is on the market doesn’t mean you have to erase every shred of evidence that it’s inhabited by humans.

“You’re still paying the mortgage and insurance—it’s okay to live there!” Dawn said.

Do your best to keep it neat and clean, but don’t turn it into a museum. Leaving a few traces of family life enables prospective buyers to believe their family could live there too.

Hand Your Worries Over to a Pro

Juggling family responsibilities is hard enough without a For Sale sign in the yard. Let a real estate agent guide you through your list of to-dos so you don’t feel overwhelmed. A true pro understands the power of positive encouragement but isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves to get the job done.

If you’re looking for an agent to take the stress out of your home sale, we can connect you with a pro Dave recommends in your area.

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