The problem with putting your house on the market is that people come over. And before they do, you have to clean it.

A lot.

And not that Erma Bombeck way, where you just give it a sweeping glance.

Opening our lives this way has been traumatic for Sam, but he’s getting better. I got just a little ptsd leftover from when we sold our home in California in 1993. At the time, I was pregnant and chasing two preschoolers. We lived in a 1,100-square-foot house with a forest of tubas in a “hot zip.” Real estate agents were supposed to call and schedule a visit, but they would sometimes pull up to the curb and “call.”

After a while, I gave up. They could just tour a messy house — dirty diapers, toys, dishes, tubas, and all.

Here, we live too far off the beaten path for people to take a chance on pulling up and getting permission to see the house. But I am tired of always being “on” with the cleaning. This market is a lot tougher. I’ve got the place priced competitively, so we have too many people coming through. Some rooms in the house have taken on a museum-like quality.

My mother has that kind of tidiness in her house. My sisters do, too, at least in certain rooms.

I’ve not ever been that way. It’s not like I don’t know that I should clean the refrigerator once a month to discourage listeria, but it’s amazing how long I can go when I think no one is looking.

I vowed to get better the day that Michael and Paige came running into the office — I was writing something — to announce that a spider nest hatched because there were a thousand baby spiders on the living room ceiling.

They thought it was really cool, but decided that leaving it to nature wasn’t a good idea. And there really were a thousand baby spiders on the ceiling. I vacuumed for about an hour.

After that, we worked out something called Hour of Power. We put about two dozen small cleaning jobs on slips of paper in a bowl, the kids would roll the dice and take turns picking jobs on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Mark and I would do the tough stuff, like mop the floors or address whatever disaster had been waiting all week (the refrigerator, for example.) By the time we were done, it looked good and lasted almost til the next Hour of Power.

Those were the good ole days.

Well, back to cleaning.

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