How to Homeschool While Your House is For Sale

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This Spring, we decided to sell our home. While I knew we would take a break from schooling while moving, I was unsure what it would be like to homeschool while the house was on the market. Would prospective buyers want to stop by while we were in the middle of math? How would we keep the house clean while living and learning in it? Where would we put all the stuff we use for school while still having access to it but keeping our house “staged”? 

Here are 15 tips gleaned from our family’s experience on how to homeschool while your house is for sale. Hopefully they will be helpful to you, too.

homeschooling while house is for sale

How to Homeschool While Your House is For Sale

Tip #1:  Leave yourself way more time than you think you will need to get your house ready to go on the market. The longer you’ve been living in it, the more time you may need to get it ready.
School lightly or take a break while this is happening. It’s chaos. I totally underestimated this part and was focused on how we would homeschool while the house was for sale. Getting it ready for sale was much more labor intensive. How did I forget that from the last house we sold? Oh yeah, I only had two kids and one was a newborn that slept all day and our house had just been remodeled. Not the case with this house. 
Decluttering items to donate to charity, touching up paint, packing up non-essentials, fixing odds and ends, having stained, old carpet replaced—all of these things took a lot of my attention while also trying to go about the normal business of homeschooling and kid activities. 

Tip #2: Pack away as much as you can to reduce clutter. Pretend you’re on vacation, and only leave out the things you need. This meant packing up out-of-season clothing, extra kitchenware and about 80% of my kids toys. They knew they would be reunited with their toys once we moved. They kept out their most special things.

Tip #3:  Make some space in your house off limits to reduce mess and cleaning. We stopped using one of the bathrooms. Yes, this is inconvenient but it’s worth cleaning one less bathroom. 

Tip #4: Establish places to stash stuff when you need to do a quick clean up for a showing. We emptied one dresser drawer for each child where they could stash a LEGO or art project they were working on. A dishpan under the sink makes a great place to dump dirty dishes so the sink is empty. 

Quick clean-ups were still hard because we are 5 people who home A LOT. My husband works from home full time and I work from home part time with my blogging and local business.  The kids are learning here. Of course we go out every day for part of the day but we are definitely home more hours than a family whose kids go to public school and whose parents work outside of the home.

Tip #5: Field trips on weekends. Since this was the busiest time for prospective buyers to look at the house, we often saved our field trips for weekends. 

Tip #6: Make your homeschool portable. I consolidated each child’s schoolwork into a Sterilite box with handles (and one for me, too). My original thinking was that we could  take homeschool to our neighborhood park or coffee shop during daytime showings but there were actually none of those. I am glad we used the boxes, however, because it contained the clutter. The kids knew when they finished their work, they needed to pack their box up and put it away. 

We have loved these boxes for a long time. They hold hanging file folders, workbooks, texts and supplies. I used to fill them weekly for the kids when we did the workbox system back in our very first year of homeschooling.

homeschool to go

Tip #7: Schedule some trips. Go see the grandparents, go camping, take a trip. Weekends are the busiest times for house showings and if you can tack an extra week day onto that, it’s one less day you have to clear out.

Tip #8: Prep your kids to be really flexible. My kids were too little to remember when we sold our previous house so we spent a lot of time talking about how this would go down. Some weekends might feel pretty normal and others we would need to spend a lot of time out of the house. 

We changed their chores to reflect more tasks that kept the house show-ready, like doing floors every day instead of picking up toys, because most of them had been packed away. 

Tip #9: Require realtors of prospective buyers to give you one hour’s notice prior to showing. Set you listing to require this. You will have time to do a quick clean up before you get out of the house. We found that most realtors gave us at least several hours notice if not a call the day before. That made planning much easier. 

Tip #10: Tidy up every morning and again just before dinner. Why? Tidying up after breakfast before we got busy with the day helped us keep the clutter under control daily.  Again, just before dinner helped because next to weekends, dinner time was the next busiest time for house showings. 

Tip #11: Get lots of school work done now. Take time off later to settle into your new home. We planned on a total break from homeschooling just before, during and just after our move so we could focus on packing and then settling in.  Getting  a lot accomplished while waiting for a home buyer, helped me feel less worried about not getting enough done when we take a long break to move and get settled.

Tip #12: Prep your friends and neighbors to have you over more. I have always had an attitude of “Come on over, the house is a mess, we are living and learning here but we have coffee for mom friends and endless hours of play for kid friends, so come on in.” When we put our house up for sale, however, we asked friends to host us more often because we had to keep the house show ready and that is really hard when three kids and ten of their friends are running through it with muddy shoes, nerf darts flying and goldfish crumbs seeming to fly out of their very skin pores. 

Tip #13: Simplify meals by cooking freezer meals ahead of time.  Because we eat three meals at home most days, that’s three times to mess up the kitchen—and have to clean it again. My husband is a great cook and he prepped lots of freezer meals in preparation for our house being for sale so we could easily heat things up and dirty less pans, the stove, etc. 

We also simplified meals by using disposable plates.  Not the greenest option, I know. Please don’t leave me stern comments about the environment. I know. It’s temporary. 

Tip #14: Simplify meals by making breakfast and lunch at the same time thus reducing kitchen clean up by one.  While you’re all breakfasting, pack a lunch and stick it in the fridge. Clean up the kitchen once instead of twice.

Tip #15: Pack most of your books away. Use the library for everything. We bought a few inexpensive Kindle books, too. Stacks of books and shelves filled with them just looked very cluttered so we decided to go with that vacation mentality again and use our library even more than usual. 



Update: After having our house on the market for three months, we decided to de-list it and stay. That’s a long and not-super-interesting story and there won’t be a part two to this post entitled How to Homeschool While Moving. At least not for now. 

What I learned from having much of our stuff packed up was that we could easily live without most of it. We are slowly bringing a few things out of boxes from the storage part of our basement but much of it is staying packed up. The house is less cluttered and that feels much better to me. 

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