Anyone sold a house while the kids were young? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 05-11-2006, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We're putting our house on the market in a few weeks. I'm decluttering and packing up what I can but we won't be moving until mid to late July.

Everything I've read said your house needs to spotless when someone looks at it. Now, I keep a pretty clean house but it's far from spotless. Any tips on keeping it as clean as possible with a 2yo and a 4yo. The thought of it having to be constantly spotless stresses me out to no end!!!

I'm thinking about packing up some toys just to get some clutter out of the way! I'd love more tips!!

Thanks!!

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#2 of 22 Old 05-11-2006, 09:19 AM
 
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No tips, just support! We're in the same boat right now, and its slightly stressing me out... I've just seperated all the toys by function and put them into totes or bags. Then we bring only one out at a time when possible. Other than that its last minute finishing up when we know someone is coming. You should always get a little bit of notice, so I only really worry about the couter top clutter and daily messy stuff then. But it has been great motivation to keep the dusting/mopping/bathrooms up!

Good Luck! I'm anxious to read other responses to!
Amanda
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#3 of 22 Old 05-11-2006, 11:10 AM
 
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I think that renting a storage unit and putting 3/4s of the toys in there, as well as half of the stuff that the adults own, in there. Keep the toys near the front of the storage unit so that in a week or two, you can go and exchange the toys for some more.

Have you ever stayed in a hotel room or vacation home and found that it is much easier to keep clean than even your own home? It's because you have less stuff when you go there. Well, sometimes we stuff ourselves into hotel rooms but it's easier to make a concerted effort to put stuff away when you have less actual chores and stuff to put away. I'd even suggest getting a housecleaner once a week (or twice if you can afford it) temporarily while your house is being shown, if that is an option. Then you have to make sure that the clutter is put away when the housecleaner comes and you can focus on the tidying and have less energy distracted by the larger cleaning jobs.

Perhaps writing down a routine will help you. A schedule of what to do and when, like tidying toys at 10am, 2pm and 7pm, doing it more frequently for less periods each time should be quick and easy. Vacuum and sweep at least once a day. Dust every two-three days. Make beds every morning promptly. Do whatever you can to keep the bathrooms clean daily, quick swish and wipe down and quickly scrub the tub with baking soda after every children's bath. I like to keep cleaning supplies including rubber gloves in each bathroom so that I can do touch-ups in a minute or two as it needs to be really quick and easy or I probably won't do it. Make sure you have pretty decorative hand towels in each bathroom as well as hand towels for everyone to actually use. If you keep the pretty towels unused, an unexpected quick showing won't be a problem.

Good luck on a happy and successful sell!
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#4 of 22 Old 05-11-2006, 11:48 AM
 
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Keep some rubbermaid totes or large baskets handy. When you have to leave at the last minute for a showing fill them with anything that is laying around the house and put them in your car and take them with you.

The packingstuff up idea is a great one! Pack away anything you don't need. That includes knick-knacks, pictures, small appliances, etc. your house will look bigger and you won't have as much stuff to clean.

Good luck! I hope it sells fast!

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#5 of 22 Old 05-11-2006, 11:49 AM
 
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OMG, this is sooooooooooo hard, or at least it was for me. I've done it 2 times when ds was 4M and when he was 21M. I don't have 2 dc yet, but I had a hard time. I knew when the house would show 24 hrs in advance, but you still have to clean your sink, put your laundry away, put toys away, feed your kid, entertain them while you clean, your toilet, make the beds, mop the floors, on and on and on. It really pooped me out.

We got a storage unit and this did help, and I'm sure it could have been much more difficult if we hadn't, but then you have to go somewhere while the house is being shown. The storage unit is the best idea though. Put as much stuff in there as possible in there. You would be amazed how little you can live with and no one wants to see your stuff all over their new house .

Oh, but talk about motivation to keep it clean and how nice it is to come home to. You still have to do all that stuff over the next time you show it. It's worth it though. We sold our house. It took some time, but the goal was to sell it. Good Luck and hang in there.
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#6 of 22 Old 05-11-2006, 12:27 PM
 
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HGTV has some really good tips online right now.
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/pac_ctnt_98..._45517,00.html

My favorite show lately is "Designed to Sell" on HGTV. Have you seen it?

http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/pac_ctnt_94..._29679,00.html
I think that some of the least expensive tips that they show are often the best ones.
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#7 of 22 Old 05-12-2006, 10:08 AM
 
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I had to do this several times...and it is a lot of work, but it can be done, and you will all survive!

The best tips I have...

Box up any excess stuff, so that is less for you to have to keep track of now! Just keep the essentials out as far as toys, clutter, etc. goes. Simple makes it easier.

When you have to do a quick pick up, use a box, go through the house, grab all unattended items and put them in the box, hide box in closet. Then afterwards you can go through the box and put things away where they belong.

Stay up maybe 30 minutes later at night and straighten things up before you go to bed. That's less you have to deal with in the morning. Gives you a bit of a headstart.

I tried to keep meals simple...easy to fix, easy to clean up.

Our realtors told us we'd have 24 hour notice...but we often got as little as 1 hours notice.

Good luck!

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
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#8 of 22 Old 05-12-2006, 10:16 AM
 
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Here's some encouragement:

I babysit these 2 girls (ages 5 and 9). The parents were going to put their house up for sale. I knew they were going to start packing and whatnot. One day I went and the kitchen was a bit cleaner (less paperwork on top of microwave, etc...) but that was the only thing I really noticed. The mom told me their agent said they don't really have to do much tidying up. It was evident there were kids living at home, that's for sure...although it didn't look like a warzone or anything. They put the house up for sale on a Friday last month. Two days later, on Sunday, the house was sold, to the third couple that looked at that day during Open House.

Wow!
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#9 of 22 Old 05-12-2006, 03:12 PM
 
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I just went through selling a house with a one and a two year old. I didn't like myself very much during that time, as I was stressed and picky about how the house looked at all times (SOOOOO not me!!). With that said, though, it actually stayed cleaner than I expected it would, and we made it through just fine. Here are the things that helped me:
-I went through and packed up as much stuff as I possibly could before we listed the house. I believe it was on here that I read that someone's agent had told them that they could pack boxes and stack them in the garage. People aren't emotionally attached to garages, so seeing boxes stacked in there is ok. I tried to keep neat stacks, but there was quite a bit out there. All the kid's stuffed animals, a lot of their toys, kitchen stuff that I didn't use all the time, out of season clothes, etc, etc, all got boxed up. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to keep clean.
-I tried to do some of the cleaning every day, to keep it up. I had 3 bathrooms, so I cleaned one bathroom every day, and that meant that each got cleaned 2 times a week, but it wasn't overwhealming. I swept and spot mopped daily to keep the floor from getting too bad and needing to be completely mopped.
-I really worked on keeping us in the main living area of the house and out of the bedrooms during the day. This way I could make beds and straighten the bedrooms in the mornings and then not have to deal with them again later if we needed to leave. I knew they were clean.
-Our realtor stipulated in the listing information that we MUST have 2 hours notice before a showing. He told me that I did not have to let in anyone that didn't give notice, and to call him if I had any trouble. I never did. Agents that called were very understanding and worked with me to make sure it was convenient for everyone.
I don't look back at that time with the desire to do it again any time soon, but we made it through just fine, and the rewards of being in our new home are huge. Hope some of this is helpful to you!!
P.S.- From the other side, as we were also looking at homes at the same time, having some toys out, or in baskets, etc, didn't bother us. The things that we really noticed that turned us off of homes were things like cobwebs in the corners and filthy walls and blinds, etc. We didn't paint our home before selling, but we did wash down all of the walls, blinds, window sills, etc. It made a huge difference in how things looked, with much less effort than complete repainting.
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#10 of 22 Old 05-13-2006, 11:00 PM
 
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Been there! Honeslty the only way it stayed that clean was because I packed most of the toys and only kept a few which stayed in the closet that we took out one at a time. It wasn't the easiest, I'm glad I won't need to go through it again!

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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#11 of 22 Old 05-14-2006, 12:10 AM
 
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We sold our house when my DS was 2-1/2 and I was pregnant with #2. (I didn't know that at first and spent two weeks painting and wondering why I was so tired!)

I totally agree that the key is drastically reducing the amount of stuff in the house. We boxed up about 2/3 (maybe even more) of our stuff and took it to storage. Then, even when actual cleaning was required it was SO much easier with very little clutter. Vacuuming, dusting, keeping floors clean, etc. are all so much easier when there isn't a ton of stuff to move and work around. Having looked at a lot of houses for sale, I realize the impact reduction in clutter can make. I have looked at houses where I have very little feel for how spacious rooms are because they are so cluttered. Doing the decluttering gave us a big head start on packing for the move. If I'd been a little more together I would have used the opportunity to sell or give away more stuff.

The other thing we did, and this won't work for everyone, is that we got out of the house for significant periods of time. We went away to my mother's for a week and went to stay with my DH where he had already started a new job (in another city) several times. I was worried that all the moving around would be hard on my DS but he saw it as an adventure (and he's not a particularly adventurous or flexible kid).

In thinking about your strategy, it's important to keep in mind the state of your local real estate market. If you think you will go to contract pretty quickly, you can take dramatic measures that might be unsustainable over the long haul. But if the process is likely to drag on for a while, you'll need to be realistic about what your family can accommodate. A friend of mine just sold but the market has been slow and it took 6 months. She just wasn't realistic about what she could do regularly and on short notice and it was very wearing. She ended up moving her family to a new apartment (of course not everyone can do this) before the house sold after driving around one too many times with her clutter shoved in the car-top carrier.

Good luck!

Beth
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#12 of 22 Old 05-15-2006, 09:54 AM
 
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You've gotten great tips re: clutter. Just one thing to add - in some markets, realtors show all the homes, and in others, lockboxes are standard. I think if your realtor has to get his or her own butt over to your house, it's realistic to expect more notice beforehand; with lockboxes, you're *much* more likely to get unnannounced potential buyers. So be sure to have that conversation with your realtor.

When our condo was on the market I tried to clean at night after the kids were asleep and then we planned to be at the park or out somewhere else while the realtor was showing our home. I also tried to envision anyone who would be in our home as an invited guest, which made me less anxious about having people around to judge my house.

Also, I bought a pretty orchid and put it in a nice pot so I didn't have to keep buying flowers.

Can't give up actin' tough, it's all that I'm made of. Can't scrape together quite enough to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love. ~ Neko Case

 
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#13 of 22 Old 05-16-2006, 12:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the tips. We've been going around and around about whether to rent out our house or sell it and he finally decided to sell today so I've got work to do!!

I've been delcuttering in anticipation of the move so I'm ahead of the game there. We're having a big garage sale on Saturday and I'm hoping that will reduce the clutter.

I think the thing I need to get serious about is the toys. Thanks for the suggestions on that. I think a lot of stuff is going into the attic for the duration. I anticipate our house being on the market for 3-6 months so I've got to get clutter free!!

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#14 of 22 Old 05-17-2006, 11:14 AM
 
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We are facing the same thing. We put our home on the market a few months ago -- my kids are 17 months and 3 yrs old. They are messy, too! Over the past few months we have done major decluttering. Our home is just under 1400 sq feet without a garage. We rented a storage unit to store furniture that just doesn't fit well right now in our home. We put a bunch of toys in there. We also threw away and gave a way a large amount of toys. We got rid of kids clothes that no longer fits. We put almost all of our books (not kids books) in storage, too. Then we went through all the closets and dressers and got rid of (gave away) towels/sheets, extra clothing. I didn't think we had too much stuff until we got rid of everything and now our linen closet looks neat and our closet looks orderly. The kids have separate rooms and there is not much just sitting out. I have a basket in each room for books and their closets are full of organization tubs/drawers filled with toys and shoes. I made myself a schedule that includes everything I need to do each week to make the house clean (bathrooms/vacuum/mop/change sheets/wash clothes/wash diapers) and I designate chores to each day. So everyday I do atleast one load of laundry (usually 2-3); unload/load dishes at least once/wash table and under table (for spilled food) and make the beds; tidy toys; along with my chore (dusting or vac. or bathrooms or mop, etc.) It is a lot of work but it is much more manageable. One thing I realized when someone called to look at the house and I only had an hour to clean (and it was a mess--laundry everwhere--dirty & clean--and there was just clutter everywhere and no place to put it. I realized I kept the clutter because I felt like I had to because they were gifts/something I should keep/it felt so freeing to get rid of it or put it away!) and I realized I didn't want someone to see the house like that but I didn't want to live like that or my family so it looks nice at all times (except mid afternoon when toys are everywhere--but it only takes a few minutes to put those back). I realized that it is managable (although tiring) to keep a very clean house if you've got space for everything. Sorry for writing so much. I just wanted to say--decluttering will make things so much easier.
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#15 of 22 Old 05-19-2006, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So today is our first day on the market. It's unlikely we'll get any showings until next week since it's not in our system yet but I decided to do a "trial run" to see how long it would take me to tidy up..The toys aren't the issue at all!! I's crumbs, dirt, etc..We have hardwoods throughout the house that show every little piece of dirt and as soon as I swept the kitchen DD got pop tart curmbs everywhere!!

Can I just go live in a mental institution for the duration??? LOL!

Stacey reading.gif Happy wife to Rick coolshine.gif ,homeschooling Mama to Jacob, Noel, Joanna jumpers.gif  and a sweet stork-girl.gif due in the Spring!
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#16 of 22 Old 05-19-2006, 11:43 AM
 
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Hopefully your stay in the institution will be a short one! Have you tried a swiffer? Maybe do a once a day big sweep and then get a swiffer for a last minute crumb pick up as you walk out the door? I haven't tried one yet, but know people that think they are the greatest thing ever. I've also heard that microfiber cloths work great as an alternative to the swiffer cloths. Just an idea.
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#17 of 22 Old 05-19-2006, 12:29 PM
 
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We just went through this in March/April. I have 4 kids (11, 5, 3, and 21 mos), and it was insane trying to keep our house in model condition for showings. Luckily, it sold in 3 weeks.

We packed up the majority of toys, and made sure there was no clutter in our house. We also took down personal family photos and that kind of thing. I had a strict routine from waking up until bedtime so that the house would always be ready for a last minute showing. Every morning, we would eat breakfast, then I would wipe the kitchen down, sweep(or stick vac) thorughly, wipe down the bathrooms, dust and make sure there weren't finger prints from the kids on our glass door to the backyard, or on the windows. My 11 yr old would scoop the litterbox and check the backyard for dog poop and any trash that got blown into our yard after trash day. Sometimes he would vacuum, although I tried to do this as part of my before bed routine. I was pretty strict about the kids only bringing out one thing at a time to play with, and playdough and paint and art stuff was off limits for the time being. It was just too time consuming to clean up when someone called about a showing. And my 3 yr old drew a big cross with marker right on my bedroom door before showings one day and I couldn't get it off. So I just made all of that off limits.

I also planned for easy, quick meals so we could get through breakfast, lunch and dinner without a huge mess. They had to eat all snacks at the kitchen table so that crumbs were confined to one area. And I would make a conscious choice to buy chewy cookies instead of crumbly ones or fruit leather for snacks instead of something that gets everywhere.

Basically I was always picking up and cleaning. I had a before bed routine too and would have all dishes done and put away, floors swept, carpets vacuumed, etc. That way I could start off the morning with everything perfect. I also bought a little stick vac that made cleaning up little messes the kids made much faster, I could vac the kitchen super quick after they had a meal or snack.


It was stressful for the kids too, because we didn't feel very relaxed in our home. But I do think it being in model condition all the time is what helped it sell so fast. We kept clutter and personal items put away, but did have pretty art work on the walls, colorful rugs and throw pillows everywhere, and we opened all the curtains and blinds before every showing and left the lights on in every room too, so that it would look bright and cheery in our house. Then the kids, the dog, and I would hightail it to the park for an hour or two, because buyers feel more comfortable looking without the owners present.

Good luck on your own home selling venture!


ETA:
We had a lockbox, and realtors would call a centralized showing service to make an appointment to see our home. But they only had to give 30 min notice, which I soon discovered was not much time to get ready with 4 kids. It takes me 15 min just to have them go potty, change the babe's diaper, and get all their shoes on, and then another 5-10 to get them in the van and buckle up the 3 in car seats. So basically I had to be ready at a moments notice, which is where having a good cleaning/ picking up routine and not much clutter really helps.
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#18 of 22 Old 05-19-2006, 12:43 PM
 
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My boys were also 2 & 4 when we sold our last house. I did most of the things listed - rented a storage unit, kept laundry baskets to throw clutter into my car, satyed gone alot, even bought an orchid for the reasons a PP mentioned!

I also kept the pretty stuff in baskets out of reach of the kids, but ready to set out - Nice new white towels got set out, placemats and bowl of apples put on the kitchen table, etc., then put away again when we returned (learned my lesson when DS#2 ate one bite out of every apple in the first bowl I set out).

We were lucky the weather was nice and we had a garage so I would also put the kids in their car seats with books and a snack while I did a last minute clean up of the house every time we left.

One last thing, I got the master bath sparkly clean and neat - then quit using it! We all shared one bathroom so I only had the one to clean before showings.

Tanya
Mom to John (age 11), James (age 9) & Katherine (age 5)
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#19 of 22 Old 05-20-2006, 11:21 PM
 
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OUr house is under contract right now.
Here was our situation:
3 boys-4, 7, and 9. All homeschooled,so home constantly. Dh works full time in the evenings a half an hour away and has the only car when he works. We have two mini dachshunds as well. My dh and I are both in school full time as well, with the majority of classes being online. We have had issues with our neighbor, so I REALLY wanted to make sure the kids were all gone any time there was a showing, so they wouldnt have a chance to say anything about the neighborhood!
Mytips are coming up in a minute!
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#20 of 22 Old 05-20-2006, 11:27 PM
 
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Ok,
packing up everything is really helpful/. My dh built a tall platform for my boys' bed, and it is tall enough that laundry baskets fit under/ We would go through their room and shove everything into a laundry basket and shove the basket under the bed.
I bought several PlugIns in Apple cinnamon and would crank them right before showing.
We left the table constantly set and ate at a little card table in the front room
my boys watched tons and tons of television
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#21 of 22 Old 05-21-2006, 12:51 AM
 
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we just sold our house this fall, with a 5 1/2 y.o, 2 1/2 y.o., 6 month old and a big hairy dog at home.

Ditto what everyone said about boxing up stuff, like most of it. I had a cabinet in the family room where I could store a couple baskets of toys, and could throw them in quickly. I cleaned out a couple drawers in the kitchen so if I needed to move anything off the counter quickly I could throw it in a drawer and deal with it later after the showing.

Spend as much time as you can out of the house... go to the library, friends' houses, the park, the mall...anywhere so you are not at home making it messy. We'd leave right after breakfast, the kids would wait in the car while I quickly cleaned up the kitchen, then we wouldn't come home until lunch, then nap. We also watched way too much tv (only for a week or so), and the older two played outside a lot. It's amazing how much you can get done in 10 minutes, a few times a day, when you start with a really clean and decluttered house.

I usually got 2 hours notice for showings, but a couple times it was 30 minutes!

Sending you "quick sale" vibes.
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#22 of 22 Old 05-21-2006, 12:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Anyone sold a house while the kids were young?
yes and we didnt live in it Very thankfully I might add.
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