No, this isn’t a blog about being sick and tired of your holiday guests. It’s about being sick and tired of the parade of strangers who have come through our house while we had it on the market – and the lessons we learned.
The “sold” sign just went up in front of our house. What a relief in so many ways. Of course, we’re thrilled that everything has come together. But most importantly, it’s a relief to know that we will no longer have strangers judging the house we love, the way we live and our things. It’s justification for all of the misery of going through the showings and having to keep the house immaculate at all times. Look around your own house and at your children right now and imagine how hard it would be to ask the kids to keep their rooms perfect and to never leave the house without making sure the trash cans were emptied and every crumb was swept up.
In the past two weeks, while we waited for the moment where we could confidently put up a “sold” sign, we watched neighbors and passersby stop, look at the real estate flyer and at the house and shake their heads. Undoubtedly, they were saying things like “wow, that house hasn’t sold yet?” or “It’s the holidays. They’ll never sell now.” I wanted to run out there and say “neener – neener, we sold it, you just don’t know it!” A really mature response, I know. I can’t help it though. It’s been five long months filled with leaving at a moment’s notice for two hours but not before wiping everything down, polishing everything up and turning on every light.
The worst part was coming home to find that people had gone through our stuff even though we hid anything valuable. They sat on Thomas’ and my bed (at least we hope that’s all they did there!), moved furniture to look for outlets, opened the washer and dryer (which weren’t included in the sale) and more. It’s so invasive and yet that’s what it takes to put your house and yourself out there. We had to keep reminding ourselves to keep our eyes on the prize – the new house. Along the way though, we did learn five valuable tips that will help us in our life in the new house – tips that will help anyone, even if you aren’t moving:
1. Declutter! It may be daunting at first but it’s wonderfully freeing to have only what you really need and really love around you.
2. Clean as you go. It’s a lot easier to keep a house clean if you maintain it as you use things. Take the damp towel you just used for your shower and wipe down the sink, toilet and floor before tossing it in the wash, for instance. Load the dishwasher and wipe down the kitchen counters before you go to bed. You’ll be grateful in the morning.
3. Have a logical place for everything and then put things there. What good is that filing cabinet if it’s empty?
4. Have doable standards for the kids for cleaning. Make it a part of their morning routine to make their beds, put all dirty laundry in the hamper and all toys in baskets or bins. It’s a good practice to get them used to leaving their space clean and organized. If they do it every day, it’s a five-minute process. If they wait to do it once a month, it could mean hours of whining (on the kids’ part too!)
5. Make your home lovely for yourself. As I set a vase of fresh flowers on my table every week, it occurred to me that I was pampering strangers! Clean, decorate, use nice dishes for yourselves. You deserve it.
These are the good things that have come out of months of cleaning and putting ourselves out there for snooping. It all paid off. We have sold our house and are moving to a better one – where, as God is my witness, we will maintain these tips for keeping a tidy, attractive home. And I’ll gladly let people pass judgment on the new house -by invitation only.