Google “only child” and you get more than 31 million hits.
This strikes me as completely ridiculous. Why is our society so obsessed with only children and the good or bad aspects of being one?
I am often asked if Sabine is an only child and up until recently I would always give my very canned response with downcast eyes.
“Yes. She is, and will continue to be, an only child. It took years and a lot of medical intervention for us to have Sabine. She is very special.”
While this response was not bad in the sense that it brought to light our struggle with infertility, it was not particularly good. You see, I don’t like the negative edge that “only child” has. The word only implies “not enough” and that is not fair when it comes to a human being. We are all enough. We are all amazing creatures with cool thoughts and awesome abilities. Why on earth would we refer to ourselves as an “only.” We might be one, but we are far from only.
It is with this in mind that I have changed my canned response. When someone asks me if Sabine is an only child I now respond with, “Sabine is our one amazing child. It took a long time and a lot of medical intervention to have her. She is very special.”
I want to change the way we speak about families with one child. One is awesome. One is perfect. One is exactly what we all longed for when we were neck deep in injections, transvaginal ultrasounds, pregnancy tests and tears. One is amazing.
When I saw those two pink lines at the end of January this year my entire perspective on life shifted. My focus went from my one amazing child to the prospect of another. Then the pregnancy ended. And my husband accepted a permanent job. And we prepared our apartment to sell. And we listed it. And on and on.
Since those two pink lines I have not been the best mother. I’m not being unnecessarily harsh on myself here. Actually I’m doing the opposite. I’m allowing myself to feel all the feels that go along with major life changes and loosing sight of the present.
Now it is time to return my focus to Sabine.
It happened when I picked Sabine up from school on Friday. It was unseasonably cold and drizzling rain. I did not have a coat and my feet ached. I just wanted to go home and veg out.
“I want to take a walk with my rainbrella (Sabine’s term for umbrella).”
This was the LAST thing I wanted to do, but something in her voice told me this was important.
“Yes, let’s park the car at the apartment and we’ll leave all our stuff in it and go for a walk with the umbrella right away,” I said. “Shall we walk into the fancy neighborhood and look for the bee hive?”
Sabine’s eyes lit up and she bounced with joy. So we walked in the drizzling rain and when the rain stopped we folded up the umbrella and kept walking. We walked along the grassy median in the road and stopped to inspect things whenever the mood struck. We laughed, we played. We got a little wet and dirty.
For the first time in a long while I felt like I was fully present and alive with my little person. I was a mother again. A mother to my one perfect child and two more who might have been. And, most importantly, I was perfectly comfortable just where I was. I don’t need more. I don’t need less. I have everything my heart desires right this moment.
On our walk back we noticed some mushrooms. Sabine paused to inspect them and announced they were “a family – Mama, Dada and Baby.”
Yes, my child. Just like us. Just like us.
Our open house went fantastically well this weekend. So well that on Monday we were presented with three offers, two under asking price and one a little bit over asking. I am still dumbfounded by how “easy” this was. Granted, there still are still a lot of details that could throw the entire transaction, but finding buyers did not end up being a problem! I asked the agent about why there was so much interest so quickly and she said there were three reasons:
- The market for true two bedrooms is hot
- She has a lot of great connections
- Our place showed beautifully
And No. 3, she said, was the real clincher. All the weeks remodeling, packing and styling paid off. She said every person who walked into our apartment loved it and complimented not just the physical structure, but also everything in it.
For not being a professional stager, she said, I did a damn fine job. So what all did I do and how can you style your home for a quicker sale? Here you go!
Belle’s Super Shiny Tips for Staging Your Home
- Pack up all personal items. I read this tip all over the internet and thought sure, pack up the photos. Done. But then I started to look around and there was a lot more than just photos that would tell perspective buyers who we were. The cat sculpture in the bathroom, the vegan cookbooks on the shelves, the guitars on the wall, the board games in the closet, the odd collection of mustaches – all of these things were specifically “us.” So I packed them, hid them, or in the case of books, turned them around.
- Think “hotel” when picking items to display. I would view each room as it if were a hotel and then chose neutral, minimal details to display. Simple milk glass vases, some soothing landscapes and a bowl full of fresh lemons were just enough accessories to make the main living area feel warm and inviting but not personal.
- Think green. Fresh flowers and healthy houseplants can do so much to fill a room with life. In my case, however, fresh flowers are not an option. Our cats eat everything and then barf flower-colored vomit on the floor. Instead I spend a little money on some high-end “real touch” silk flowers. The tulips were the perfect “pop” of color and everyone who comes in thinks they are real. (Secret – I put water in the vase right before each open house, too!)
- Clear everything off your kitchen counters. All that
crapstuff on your counters is making your kitchen look small. Put it all away or pack it up. I went the extra mile and picked up two inexpensive soap dispensers for dish and hand soaps. It really helped make the space look neutral and clean.
- Buy neutral bedding and linens. The bed was given an inexpensive white quilt and shams and I picked up some white “for display only” towels from the clearance rack. These two small changes alone made a huge difference. I also removed a lot of throw pillows and blankets.
- Style your closets. I went through all our closets and the hallway wardrobes and put everything we would not need in the next three months into storage. I bought inexpensive white bins from Ikea and stashed all our other crap in them so when you open the doors you are greeted with the illusion of gloriously organized whiteness. I also splurged on velvet hangers that made a huge difference in how clothing hung and how large the closets appeared. Then I organized the clothing by color to make it look even prettier.
- Bins for toys are your new best friend. I put the blue bins back into Sabine’s room so all her toys could be hidden away. Gone is my Montessori style play space but now her room looks larger, more neutral and it is MUCH easier to clean up in the 60 seconds I have before she starts making another mess!
- Last but not least, clean like you have never cleaned before. We cleaned everything. Inside cabinets and closets, the trash can, all the nooks and crannies around the toilet, the appliances, and more. Everything should shine and look new. Also, I used chemicals. Normally I swear by baking soda and vinegar alone but for this situation, chemicals worked so much better. I bought polish for my granite, stainless steel cleaner for our sink and faucets, wood cleaner for the floors and cabinets and soft scrub for anything and everything needing a little bleaching.
What have you done to prepare a house or apartment to sell quickly?