What It's Like To Sell A House––That You Still Live In––With Little Kids

by Christine Krooss
Originally Published: 
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“Let’s move.” Two simple words that for a young, childless couple ignites feelings of adventure and intrigue. But when I said them to my husband he looked around our cozy farmhouse, exasperated, and sighed. We had a toddler. We were out of space. “I guess we have to,” he grumbled.

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According to the internet, in order to have your house “buyer ready” you have to pretend that human people live there but that those human people do not use any of the facilities. Ever. They just sit around drinking cups of Irish tea by the windowsill smiling like people in prescription antidepressant commercials. Our house was supposed to smell like something whimsical and non-threatening at all times; for this I chose “Norwegian children eating chocolate oranges around a campfire.” My poor husband had a muffin bitch-slapped out of his hand mid-bite one morning because the seventh portal to Hell would have opened if I had to immediately clean up another crumbly mess off the counter.

Normally, we would be unfazed by the fact that spaghetti sometimes made its way onto the ceiling fan and it might even stay there for several days — but we knew that there was literally no potential buyer that had “spaghetti fan” on their must-have list and so, we were constantly in a state of picking up the wreckage in the off-chance that a leaf peeper wanted to stop by and see our little slice of heaven. Realizing the efforts were futile, we gave up and decided to lean into the toddler design choices. We began proudly offering features you simply could not find in any other home such as:

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Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

An in-toilet Spider-Man figurine!

13 dead leaves lined up on the dining room window sills!

A crayon wall mural titled by the artist as “Poop Weiner Hamburgers!”

For showings, I was told I should dress up but look approachable. I kept wearing the same maroon turtleneck full length dress with a hunter green camisole over it but whenever I walked into a room my husband would say “blessed be the fruit” and I worried that what I thought was “farmhouse chic” was coming off as “post-apocalyptic sister-wife.” As someone who had been working from home for a significant amount of time, I had lost my sense of style. My daily ensemble usually consisted of mac-and-cheese-stained sweatpants topped with a hoodie that looked as though I’d wrestled it from the jaws of a grizzly bear. On a really good day I might find a rogue Cheez-It somewhere in the outfit.

Each day I feared our home would be featured on one of those Zillow parody accounts that scour and repost the most bizarre listings. Undoubtedly, the “virtual tour” of our house must have captured my son attempting to put his Batman costume on the cat or my husband polishing off a half-eaten chicken nugget he salvaged from the kitchen floor.

Utterly exhausted, I thought we were alone in this until I vented on Facebook and found out that there were others like us. Parents who had hidden a wreckage of toys in the dishwasher or bribed pre-teen neighbors they barely knew to take their children away for a few hours. We all feared the same thing, being seen for what we really were — human families.

So please, homebuyers, my ask is simple: Look past the melted crayon-stained floors, step over the baby gates, and ignore the Mount Everest-sized laundry piles. I promise you, if these homes can withstand toddlers, they absolutely can handle whatever plans you may have for them.

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