48: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Home Selling

48: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Home Selling

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

A Busy Mom’s Guide to Home Selling

Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one’s face.

~James D. Finley

“So your client wants to see our house again before dusk?” I slowly repeated the real estate agent’s words back into the phone, perhaps to buy time. My eyes scanned the piles of debris surrounding me. Yesterday’s baking spree, last night’s dinner, and today’s toddler meals occupied every square inch of kitchen counter space. The newborn swing, bouncer, and blanket full of toys crowded the family room furniture. Woven in and out of the baby equipment laid the wreckage of unfinished games, dress-up play, and well-loved stuffed critters.

I mentally reviewed the state of the bedrooms. I recalled the “building-a-mountain” game the kiddos had played earlier and grimaced. They had grinned ear to ear while tugging on my arms to lead me to their magnificent creation — a three-foot-high mound artistically crafted by dumping everything from the toy shelves into the center of the room, including at least a thousand Legos and almost that many puzzle pieces.

“You will arrive in half an hour?” My heart beat louder, and my palm began to sweat against the phone at my ear. I silently willed her to shorten her apologetic explanation. Every second counted.

The client wished to feel the effects of Arizona’s hot sun on our west-facing back windows and patio. Understandable. But today? My hands and feet twitched with nervous energy, waiting for her to stop talking — somewhat like an anxious runner waiting for the firing of a starting gun.

At the same time, I was under no illusion that a beautiful, show-ready house could be conjured up in thirty minutes. The task was impossible. But I grew up with the saying, “You just do what you have to do.” No excuses, no whining, no holding back.

I had recently given birth to my fourth child — four happy rug rats, four years old and under, who seemed to be laughing in agreement — impossible. Sparkling kitchen: two hours. Tidy family room: minimum of one hour. Sorting of the gigantic toy mountain: a good week.

I had thirty impossible minutes, and unless nature changed its course, a bottle-feeding and one ripe diaper were sure to steal some of those precious moments.

A proper cleaning was not an option. A lousy cleaning was not even doable. I needed a bedroom-sized closet to heave the many mountains into. But even if I had one, homebuyers always opened closet doors to check for storage space.

The agent finally said goodbye, which sounded a lot like “Go!” I rushed to the family room first. The potential buyers should at least get a good view of the carpet. I scooped up armloads of family life while urging the kids who could walk to do the same. As my arms reached maximum capacity, a light bulb went on. My full-sized van was the closet I needed. And its dark tinted windows would never reveal its secondary use.

I struggled to prop open the garage door, and then slid the van door wide open. The floor-to-ceiling cargo space never looked so huge and inviting. I flung my load to the far corners of the auto and tried to suppress the smug snickering of a brilliant plan. The kids shadowed my actions. This would be a fun game.

I quickly found bins for each little pair of hands and instructed them to fill their containers to the brim with anything on the carpet. The treasures they collected were then to be emptied into the van. I used the same tactic in the kitchen. Dishes, silverware, pots, cookie sheets, all nestled into the largest nearby vessel. Stack by stack, they disappeared into the van. As each surface reappeared from under the rubble, a quick rag stood ready to wash down, dust, or polish up.

We maintained a frenzied pace for the full allotted time. No interruptions by bodily functions. Finally, I slid the van door closed and un-propped the garage door. As my eye darted to the grandfather clock for the ninety-ninth time, I lit a candle and began switching on every light in the house for effect. The doorbell rang right on cue.

The children and I stayed out of the way as the real estate agent and her clients studied different areas of the house. They finally let us know they were leaving and made their way back to the front door. They left me with just one comment on their way out. “What an incredible housekeeper you are.”

A simple thank you was all I could reply. Then I closed the door so my grin could spread, and I could laugh at the silliness of it all. If only they knew how I kept house.

Phew! We had really done it. Cleaning “by van” had proven fast and efficient — a technique even the most primitive of minds had grasped. The only downside was the inevitable cleaning out of the van. That took quite a bit longer… and a few more organizational skills.

Even so, there was something almost soothing about unloading. With a backdrop of favorite tunes, the slow-paced, methodical excavation of the daily grunge and treasures of life proved immensely more peaceful than the previous panicked sprint to the van.

And the next day we went to contract!

~Ann Kronwald

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