If you’ve had little kids, you know how all-consuming they can be. Beyond the constant chatter and questions, their inquisitive little hands want to touch everything. It’s largely why managing kids at open houses takes some planning. Read on to see how I earned a mention in the New York Times for my “kid management” stations.
When I host an open house, I am there to represent the seller’s interests. It’s safe to say that their primary interest is selling their house…though keeping their personal items safe is a close second.
Here’s the rub: those inquisitive little hands belong to a small human who finds all the new things mesmerizing! New colors, patterns, furniture! Woo hoo! It’s hard to contain their excitement.
Home shopping + kids = not always fun
I remember what it was like to shop for a home with my 2.5-year-old in tow. It was stressful. It’s was not always possible to secure childcare, and when she came along we often had to take turns touring the house. It made a big decision even harder.
For the same reason that a private home tour with a young child can be overwhelming, managing kids at open houses takes some effort.
My job at open houses is to help make it easy for buyers to decide “yes! THIS is the house for us!” Alleviating some of the pressure buyers feel as they contemplate buying a house, and keeping their kids (and the seller’s belongings) safe takes a little effort but can safeguard shoppers’ sanity and seller’s homes.
The broken birdy and my magical paper
The broken bird figurine above happened at a recent open house as a family entered the home. The younger boy knocked the figurine down on their way in. No biggie. Then the older one walked up to the living room and sat (politely) on the edge of a wire-frame chair to stay out of the way. It flipped forwards and dumped him on the floor, the chair landing on his torso.
I was not upset in the least, but their parents were mortified. There was no way they could have known that I called my (extremely boisterous) daughter “Firecracker” when she was little, and their boys’ behavior was entirely acceptable despite the minor mishaps.
My “magical” trick to entertain kids
It would have been easy to fret at that moment if I didn’t have my secret weapon waiting for them: a no-mess art station. I summoned the boys to the kitchen counter, and laid out a painting project.
As I showed the boys how to paint with water and “magically” make the water colors appear, I assured their parents that I could handle them and that they were no trouble. The parents visibly relaxed and I watched their pace slow down as they engaged in a discussion without interruption. The parents were thankful to be able to focus, I was able to keep the boys safely entertained, and nothing more was broken.
The New York Times published an article recently about how hard it is to manage kids at open houses. Apparently not every agent thinks it’s their job to keep kids entertained, and on occasion things have gotten really out of hand. If you read closely you’ll find that I am specifically mentioned for my use of this art station. Pretty cool. (The author asked me if I had a story about a child painting or coloring on walls at an open house. I don’t have one…and never will. I stay at the art station to monitor the kids – that’s the whole point!)
Strictly speaking, entertaining kids at open houses is not my job. However, I can’t do my job if the buyers can’t concentrate on theirs. Buying and selling houses takes a lot of collaboration, creativity, and compromise. This is such a small effort that helps everyone out.
Please be in touch if you have any questions, or just want one of my magic painting sheets.* They’re all the rage with the elementary crowd.
*Fellow agents: there is some nuance to the set up to help ensure this is successful and truly mess free. Call or email me if you’d like the run down. It’s cheap, and your sellers will love you for it ; )
I'm Libby Earthman. I specialize in helping first-time buyers and sellers pursue financial security on the Northern Front Range.
825 Delaware Ave, Suite 208
Longmont, CO 80501