June 21, 2013

Tips on Selling Your House When You Have Kids

When the coroner gets to "cause of death" on my death certificate, I'm most certain he will put "tried to sell house while kids lived there." [Like this quote? Tweet it!]

This is the first time I’ve ever tried to sell a house. I envisioned it to be a fairly neat process: Spend a few weeks readying the house, put it on the market and watch as potential buyers soak up the bright, sparkly gleam of the hardwood floors.

Clearly, I am stupid.

Selling a house while kids live in it is one of the most difficult challenges you will face as a parent, ranking right up there with Potty Training and dealing with The Vomit Fairy. Every day is a battle to keep the house tidy. Kids see a clean room as a blank canvas, ripe for making an artistic mess of toys, clothes, milk spills and Cheerio crumbs. They have a radar for vacuumed rugs and break out the muddiest shoes to dance across them. And while it may take you 20 minutes to scrub all the dried pasta sauce and fingerprints off your glass dinning room table (I mean, seriously, how do they get hand marks underneath the middle of the table?), it only takes them one second to apply a sticker that’s impossible to remove.

Thanks to the misery of trying to sell our house with three kids under the age of six roaming the halls, I’ve developed five tips to help make life easier on all parents (with young kids) who are crazy enough to try and sell their house. Here they are.

1. Contain the kids in one room.

Kids are going to make a mess no matter where they are, so it’s best to keep them all quarantined in one room—preferably at grandma’s house.

2. Have a bag of snacks prepared at all times.

The most common hours people want to look at your house are lunchtime, dinner time and naptime. If my kids aren’t fed and rested at their normal times, they turn from adorable little angels into fire-breathing demons who don’t listen, don’t behave and don’t want to listen to sports-talk radio (UNTHINKABLE!). Having an emergency bag filled with pretzels, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and other tasty treats tends to go a long way in lulling the demons into a mild roar.

(And before someone in the crowd says, “Why don’t you just go out to eat?” know that we tried that—but eating at a restaurant every time someone wants to look at your house will cost you more than your next house.)

3. Keep the trunk of your minivan cleared out.

There’s no real rhyme or reason as to when someone will schedule a showing. They could give you 24 hours notice. They could give you 2 hours. Once we received a notice of 15 minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES! We can't even get the kids from the couch to the car in 15 minutes. It's impossible to sweep all your mess under the bed (trust me, I’ve tried). The next best thing is to quickly swoop everything up and throw it in the trunk of your car. If you look in our van at any given time, you’ll find at least three laundry baskets, a bag of unopened mail, a box of toys and a sand bucket and shovel (in case I ever decide to take an impromptu trip to the beach). 

4. Make your kids help clean up the mess.

Take as much time as you need to laugh at that statement.

5. Accept that your house isn’t going to be perfect.

As you rush around in those final 15 minutes doing everything you can to make the house immaculate (while still, somehow, finding time to get yelled at by your wife for not giving your babysitter the bottle of sunscreen that you were asked to give her 3 weeks ago), know that you will probably forget something. It’s likely something small that no one will notice, like a Lego on the bedroom floor or a sippy cup on the kitchen counter. Cut yourself some slack. Trying to sell a house is hard. Trying to sell it while children live there is near impossible. At least, that’s what I’ve learned.

I’ve also learned that children like to forget to flush the toilet after pooping. Pray that’s not the “something” you forgot before rushing out of your house.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

June 11, 2013

What Every Dad Wants for Father's Day

Every year my wife asks me what I want for Father’s Day. This is a courtesy question of course, much like “Do you like this outfit?1” and “Do you think you could stop leaving globs of toothpaste in the sink? 2.” My answer doesn’t matter—Father’s Day has already been planned out months in advance. Half the day is spent with my family, half the day spent with my wife’s. So I generally give a generic answer like, “Anything is fine by me” or “As long as we’re eating some kind of grilled meat today, I’m good.”

But let me tell all the wives out there a little secret: There is something that dads want for Father’s Day. It’s not a “#1 Dad” mug or the chance to sleep in or Diamond Club tickets to Great American Ballpark (though we certainly wouldn’t turn any of those down). What dads really want for Father’s Day is recognition of how awesome we are. That’s all. It may sound silly, but it’s the truth.

Now I know what you’re thinking: How will I possibly get the kids to do this in time for Father’s Day? I mean, it’s been nearly 6 months and they still haven’t completed their Christmas thank-you cards! Have no fear, my motherly friends. To help you out I’ve taken the liberty to write the letter for you. Just have the kids sign it and give it to your husband. You’re welcome.

Dear Dad,

Over the past year it has become abundantly clear that you are, without a doubt, the coolest human being we’ve ever known. You are even cooler than the iPad that we fight over every second of every day. We were going to buy you a tie that plays music to thank you for being our dad, but instead decided to save that cash and deposit it into a Money Market account that gets prime plus one. Pretty awesome, huh? We also wanted to take a moment to let you know what we love about you.

First and foremost, we love that you enjoy snuggling with us on the couch and that you rarely complain when we dig our elbows into your sternum in our efforts to get comfortable. We recognize that this shifting can take up to 25 minutes, but once the proper comfort-level is reached, we know you are just as happy as we are—regardless of whether or not you can see the book that we’ve asked you to read.

We love that you show infinite patience when we need it most, like when we accidentally got marker on the couch and when we broke the remote control to the TV, leaving it permanently stuck on Dora for the entire month of February. We promise to show this same patience in the coming year by accepting your responses to questions like “Are we there yet?” and “Why can’t we eat at McDonalds every night? ” instead of asking them 17 times per minute.

We love that you bare superhero strength, which we appreciate each time we fall asleep in the car and you carry us up to bed. We’re not sure how you stay so strong, as your only source of exercise (other than carrying us) seems to be lifting up the couch so we can clear out all the toys that keep ending up under it. We’re honestly unclear on how they get there in the first place, though we suspect mom is to blame.

We love how rational you are and, based on all the useless facts you know, we are convinced that you must be the smartest person alive not named Doc McStuffins. You prove this time and time again as you can tell us the jersey number of every ballplayer who ever played for your favorite baseball team, including Todd Benzinger and Wily Mo Pena. (And yes, we know you know that the answers are #25 and #26, respectively) It’s this wisdom that we shall strive to emulate in school, in life and, most important, in our future fantasy sports leagues.

We appreciate how hard you work to provide us with things, like a food, shelter and Disney on Ice tickets. We also know how tired you are when you get home, so we promise to work a little harder and clean up our stuff so your feet aren’t subjected to landmines and Lego Limp. Most of all, though, we want you to know that we appreciate how much you love us and take care of us. No matter how busy or exhausted you are, you still make time to play with us and read to us and sing to us at bedtime. Your special blend of hugs and kiss magically heal everything from scraped knees to sadness, and you’re calm composed manner always eases our worries. Also, we know that you occasionally take a dive when playing Candy Land. Thanks for that.
Finally, we love you so much that we promise that, on this special day dedicated to dads, we will be on our best behavior. We also promise to spend the day quoting your favorite movies, like The Sandlot. For example: ”For-ev-ver” and “Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die.”
Dad, you are a hero and a legend. You are also tall.

Your Kids

Your husband will be so excited to get a letter like this that he will forget about all the stressful things that went into Father’s Day. He will also forget about this letter by Wednesday, so you can reuse it year after year. That’s right, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Of course, if you already bought the Diamond Club tickets send them my way. After all, no sense in letting them go to waste.

1 It doesn’t matter what you say, she’s going to change and make you late.
2 Red alert: This isn’t a question, it’s most likely a passive aggressive way to get you to stop leaving globs of toothpaste in the sink.  Whatever you do, don't pat her butt.

* This post originally appeared on one of my favorite sites, Family Friendly Cincinnati.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

June 7, 2013

#DearDaughter Contest (WINNER ANNOUNCED!)

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT:  Thanks to everyone who participated. Between tweets, emails and comments below, I had more than 200 entries! I put all the names in my trusty Reds mini-helmet and selected a winner:

Congrats to Julie Wetz!

In case you missed the contest details, read below. Even though it's over, that doesn't mean you still can't post your #DearDaughter moments. I'd always love to read them.


For the next few days on Twitter (and on this blog) in honor of the fast approaching Father's Day, I'm hosting a #DearDaughter contest where the winner will receive an autographed copy of OH BOY, YOU'RE HAVING A GIRL. Here's how it works:

Leave a tweet on twitter with the hashtag #DearDaughter telling her something that's important to you as a parent. It can be funny, sweet, sentimental—it's completely up to you. Here are a couple of examples of tweets I've posted:
#DearDaughter I will always protect you. I can't help it. It's my job. [Click to Tweet]

#DearDaughter One of my favorite moments is when we high-five and hug after a Cincinnati Reds win! [Click to Tweet]

#DearDaughter Please don't date anyone with a number in the middle of his name. [Click to Tweet]

#DearDaughter I plan to chaperone your school dances wearing pants that are the same length as your skirts. Keep that in mind when choosing a dress. [Click to Tweet]
All you have to do is participate to be eligible to win. I'll pick one winner completely at random and ship it off to arrive in time for Father's Day. It's that simple.

NOT ON TWITTER? HAVE NO FEAR. You can post your entry in the comments section here or email me your entry at fozzie007@yahoo.com (yes, the email address is for real!).

DON'T HAVE A DAUGHTER? THAT DOESN'T MATTER. This contest is open to everyone, so don't be afraid to join in the fun. You know people who have daughters. What do you think THEY would say to them?  What would you say to a daughter if you had one?

Contest ends at midnight Eastern time on Monday, June 10, 2013 (CONTEST CLOSED). Winner will be announced Tuesday, June 11, 2013, here on this blog.

I'll be posting plenty of #DearDaughter tweets all weekend too, so I hope you join in the fun. Can't wait to read the entries! 

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things.