about to list your home and make a move that’s best for the whole clan — yup, your big, messy family. On the one hand, you’re thrilled about the prospect of starting over. When you first moved into this house, you took great care to personalize the space. Now, that personal touch feels more like crowd control.

Which brings you to the other hand. Somehow, you have to tone down the glaring chaos that characterizes your home’s current reality and present a peaceful, alluring space buyers might actually consider. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips from those who have been there — and done just that!

Begin at the End

As anti-intuitive as it sounds, start packing up before you even list. You are going to be very busy in the coming months. Chances are excellent you won’t be throwing large dinner parties, gazing at photo albums or reminiscing about travels while perusing your prized souvenirs. Start compiling boxes and tape. Begin clearing out items such as your good china, personal photos, cookbooks and must-save collections. You’ll be shocked at how much clean, open space this initial step creates.

One Room at a Time

Unfortunately, clean, open space has its downside. Along with actual sight lines along shelving and in cabinets and drawers comes an inevitable focus on clutter. This, too, is a necessary evil, but it’s manageable. The best approach is to take it one room at a time.

Invest in several large plastic storage bins and sturdy garbage bags. These two items are about to become your new best friends. Think about what you absolutely do not want to pull out of a box in your new home, hold firm to that mindset and start in on your smallest rooms first.

  • Bathrooms — Beginning with the medicine cabinet, dispose of expired medications and skin care products. Toss makeup you don’t use. Evaluate items you want to keep, then re-stock shelves with those you use most in front.

Pare down shower/tub accessories to the basics. Your kids do not need baskets of bath toys for the next few weeks — one or two of their favorites will do. Similarly, feel free to pack all your backup toiletry supplies and extra bath towels.

  • Bedrooms — Make up each bed with neutral linens if possible. Even if some of your children’s rooms are decorated with wild colors like aqua or orange, a neutral bed will tone things down. Clear end tables and bureaus of books, spare change and knick-knacks. Items to be donated go in a bin — otherwise, keep filling those trash bags.
  • Closets — Closets can be tough. Start with simple decisions in the kids’ closets. Clothing that is too small or never gets worn goes first. Pack seasonal clothing if you believe some pieces may still fit next year. Turn anything hopelessly torn or stained into cleaning rags. Neatly hang and fold all remaining clothes — again, with favorite items in the front.

Adult closets are more difficult. One excellent strategy is to go through one category of clothing at a time. For instance, lay all your jeans out on the bed. Grab the ones you wear the most, and consider donating the rest.

  • Kitchen — Your game plan here centers on the previously stated idea that you will not be hosting epic culinary events during the move. Pack up bakeware, large pots and roasting pans. Go through each drawer with an eye toward multiples. How on earth did you manage to accumulate so many wine bottle openers? Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer that!
  • Mudrooms and Entryways — Keep out only the items your family uses daily. Hang keys in a central location. Pack up or donate rarely worn shoes, boots and seasonal outerwear. The less gear there is for your family to hurriedly toss about when they’re coming in or going out, the easier it will be to tidy up before a showing.

A quick note about your giveaway bins. It is perfectly acceptable — and immensely helpful — to drop off donations and ask for return of the container. When your real estate agent begins showing the house, you’ll need those bins big time.

It’s Showtime!

You’ve done an excellent job decluttering, and an impressive number of boxes are packed up and ready to go. It’s time to get this show on the road — literally. You and your real estate agent are about to start communicating at rapid-fire speed, so it’s best to set some ground rules at the get-go. Do yourself and your family a big favor and ask for at least a three-hour notice before scheduled showings.

Similarly, consider emphasizing showings during school hours or when your family will be tied up at sporting events. Are you planning a weekend away? That would be a great time for your agent to schedule an open house. The less your big, messy family is inconvenienced, the easier the transition of selling your home will be.

Ready, Set, Hide

Of course, even with three hours’ notice, cleaning up after this crew may be a challenge. Face the issue head-on with your best-friend empty bins and some creative finesse.

Keep one or two bins in strategic high-use locations like your family room and play areas. When you receive a call for a showing, ask the kids to help you dump toys, notebooks, sports equipment and anything else that’s lying around inside. Lid them up and slide them in a closet or behind a sofa.

Prospective buyers are well aware you are about to move. The sight of storage bins is unremarkable, and much more conducive to an open mindset of seeing themselves in the space than viewing your home in tandem with all your family’s paraphernalia.

Who knows? Tidying up on cue may become somewhat of a routine. Once you’re finally settled in your new home, you may just find yourself with a not-so-messy family after all!