Monday, March 19, 2012

A Lesson in Uprooting

We have officially sold our house!  We closed the deal and removed a few keys from our key chains on Friday. I would be lying if I said I didn't cry about something every day for the two weeks leading up to the closing date.

Now that all is said and signed I'm feeling a bit like an expert on the issue of selling a small house inhabited by two kids under 4, a 60 pound animal, and two adults.  We put our house on the market on a Monday.  The first showing was two days later and our house was shown every day for the next two weeks; and most days it was shown twice in one day.  We were home long enough to make a mess, sleep, eat, and clean up before the next showing.  Through it all, amazingly enough, my house stayed clean and tidy.  I have a few friends in our same position (selling a house while raising small messy people), and they have asked if I had any tips now that I'm on the other side of it.

Glad you asked.

1) Listen to your real estate agent.
Our agent told us to rearrange the furniture to make the room look bigger, take a few furniture items out, minimize the "kid" spread around the house, de-bulk the closets and cabinets, and take almost everything off the kitchen counters.
We got a storage unit and loaded it up with all things holiday decor, fine china, outgrown baby clothes and toys, and kitchen appliances I could live without for a few weeks.  Suddenly our house started to feel bigger and slightly less like my space.

2) Clean up!
Every night before we went to bed I made sure things were put away: laundry, dishes, toys, clothes, shoes, etc; basically any and every thing that was usually left out at the end of a long day.  The things you pass on your way to bed as you say, "I'll get that in the morning".
I learned the hard way that sometimes Pearl from the agency will call at 8:30 A.M. asking if someone can show your house in an hour.  I calmly told her "of course! thanks a bunch, Pearl!" as I looked at my kitchen table covered with breakfast and crayons, and then the sink full of dishes from dinner the night before, and finally our dining table covered in unfolded laundry; all to the tune of loud little voices still dressed in pajamas and neediness.
An hour, and two episodes of whatever was on the Disney Channel at that moment, later my kids were dressed, my house was clean, my blinds up and lights on.... my brain totally fried.
I loaded the kids and the dog into the car and we disappeared for an hour.

3) Pray
The day of our first showing felt like a first date.  Very clearly I remember standing in our door way, breathing fast and sweating (despite the below freezing temperatures that day) I looked into my house, shut my eyes tight and prayed out loud that someone would "love this house as much as we do and feel at home and at peace when they walk through this door".  Ten days later, the person that had come that day (and two other times after that) made an offer on our house, and is now the proud owner.

4) Get a routine
Whatever works for you in the clean up ritual, make it a routine so you don't even have to think about it when Pearl calls.  For me it was kitchen first, then bedrooms and bathrooms, and last pick up toys.  I usually put the girls in the car and then went back in the house to do a quick run with the Swiffer mop equivalent and pick up the toys they got out as we were walking out the door.

5) Light a Candle
I lit a candle every night after dinner. Also as soon as Pearl would call and I began my clean up ritual, I would light a candle.  After the 30 minutes of tidying up, the house smelled great.

I still can't believe our house is no longer ours.  I am so thankful it all went so fast, but I can't escape my homesickness.  My systematic mornings, organized cabinets, and overall familiarity.  I told my husband, through tears, the other night that I just "wanted to get something out of the hall closet!"  It sounds so bizarre and so simple, but I love my space and my comfort.  While I now have a new lovely space and every comfort imaginable the newness of our uprooting will take some getting used to.  I am finding it hard to settle and organize now in the month of March because in three short months the uprooting continues.... and a year from that date, again!

With the roots I have been laying, I hope there is a place out there with a big enough hole for me to fill, and I hope it shows it's face sooner rather than later.