Are you thinking about listing your home, but dread the idea of getting ready for it with children in the house? You aren’t alone! We’ve compiled a few helpful hints and easy tricks for prepping, staging and showing a house with kids involved. There are printable versions of these checklists available at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

Step 1: Prepping

Your kids need to know what’s going to happen. Let them know why you are moving, a timeline for selling your house, what it will look like and what will come next: the great new home! Explain the process (cleaning the house, donating toys and things, people coming to look) in as much detail as your child can handle so they understand that you’ll be busy and need their help over the coming weeks. It’s important to get them involved, but it’s more important to get them mentally prepared. It may be helpful to:

-Call a friend or family member to answer your child’s questions about moving.

-Make a checklist of the basic steps so the kids can see progress and be reminded of what comes next.

-Read books related to moving, making new friends, saying goodbye, etc.

-If you know where you’re moving, take a tour of the area either virtually or physically.

-Check in frequently with them during each step to make sure they are doing okay emotionally.

-If you feel like your child isn’t handing the move well, contact a guidance counselor, pastor or teacher for help.


Step 2: Staging

Staging (getting your house looking its best) with children is a task. Little people, big messes. They also require special furniture (crib, changing table, high chair,) which makes your home even less “move-in ready.” You want your home to say “Come live here!” not “Kids live here!” The goal is to reduce the number of items, especially personal items in your house so others can envision their personal items there instead.

-Go room by room and eliminate anything strictly personal to your family (photos, personalized memorabilia, blankets or pillows that aren’t specifically for staging).

-In each room, pack up 10% of furniture and decorations.

-Talk to your Realtor about painting walls, changing flooring, and making any general repairs that need to happen.

-Invite someone over to give an honest opinion about the smell in each room. Clean carpets and/or deodorize rooms. You’re aiming for neutral, not fragrant or stinky.

-Identify places that collect piles (mail, shoes, bags) and find storage solutions (baskets or new places to store them).

-Clear the fridge of art, personal calendars, magnets, etc.

-Deep clean! Cabinetry, baseboards, shelving, windows, ceiling corners, bathroom grout, toilets… everything should shine. Hire someone if you need to.

-Declutter toys (big ones and the ones scattered throughout the house).

-Keep toys only in kids’ rooms (organized).

-Collect and hide outdoor toys.

-Wash the walls if you aren’t repainting (food splatters, boogers and crafts gone wrong tend to appear on walls).

-Keep the lawn tidy and trimmed.

-Go back through each room and remove 5-10% more furniture and decorations. Leave neutral pieces only (pops of color are fine).


This can be a stressful time for children, especially small children. Expect more meltdowns and less cooperation. Plan extra time to ready yourselves. What may take a single person an afternoon will probably take a few days with children. Keeping long-term peace in your home is more important than listing timelines.


Step 3: Showing

This is probably the hardest stage. As you already know, getting out the door with kids is hard enough as it is. Not leaving a tornado of toys, electronics, shoes and food behind when you go is a whole other challenge. Here’s a quick list of things that should happen before you leave the house for a showing.

-Empty garbages.

-Clean counters in kitchen, bathroom and bar.

-Vacuum carpets or sweep floors.

-Double check for smells.

-Remove personal items (purses, backpacks, toys).

-Clean or hide dishes.

-Make beds.

-Close closet doors.

-Put the toilet seats down.

-Take pets (and kids) with you!


And finally…

If this seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry! We have 10 quick tips for listing and showing your house with kids.

  1. Gather children in one room or in the car while prepping for showings.
  2. Be in control of your showing schedule.
  3. Don’t be afraid to bring things with you in a hurry. Leave trunk space free for last-minute junk.
  4. Plan quick meals on showing nights.
  5. Instead of using trash cans, put plastic bags on doorknobs for easy grab-n-go.
  6. Pay a cleaning crew.
  7. Make a showing checklist (or print off ours).
  8. Plan a week away. Encourage your Realtor to schedule showings and open houses during your vacation week: no messes!
  9. If your Realtor suggests something for staging or improvement, do it! They have experience to back what they are saying.
  10. Stay calm. Remember to leave time for your family to still be a family during this stressful time. The more stress you exhibit to your child(ren), the more they react!

Here are printable PDF versions of the checklists you see above. You can click each one you’d like to print or click here to download them all. Enjoy!