keeping up the house

I received a question the other day from a reader {and another one the same day from a real life friend} about how I keep my house clean. Now, let me clarify for just a second: my house is not necessarily clean, just picked up.  There is a major difference.  I don’t love cleaning, and a little dust on the furniture doesn’t phase me much. But stuff {toys, papers, random socks} all over drives me crazy.  In no way do I think of myself as a great housekeeper, but I do have a few strategies to keep my surroundings somewhat orderly.

1. B O U N D A R I E S

It sounds so harsh, but the kids need some sort of boundaries or else I would be swallowed by toys.  So legos stay in the playroom, dart guns are only to be shot upstairs {and never at girls – daddy’s best rule ever!}, blankies stay in their beds {in theory}, crayons & art supplies belong in the kitchen.  

We keep one basket of blocks in the living room for a quick distraction. Otherwise, all of our toys are kept upstairs {aren’t I friendly?!}.

I want the boys to feel comfortable in our home, but I also want them to realize that not every room is a playroom. For example, they can build forts with the playroom couch cushions, but they know that the living room couch is for sitting.

Of course toys make their way downstairs {particularly by No. 3, who pretty much is my shadow all day long}.  I try not to be too crazy-mom about this, I just make sure they make their way back upstairs by the end of the day {we keep a large basket on the stair landing and throughout the day I toss all the random stuff in it. I would like to say that I empty it often, but really, I just wait until I can’t handle the mess anymore, or we’re having company over}.

2. O R G A N I Z A T I O N

Not a new idea, but it works for us: separate baskets for different categories of toys. One for cars. One for lincoln logs. One for tools.  You get the picture. My husband thinks I’m a little neurotic on this one {why not let the boys just throw all their toys in one big bin? he questions} but I’m convinced keeping things separated makes life much easier for me.  The boys are young, but they generally know that if they want a stuffed animal, they can find it in the soft toy bin. Or if they are searching for a particular batman guy, it is likely in the figurine bin. I think it teaches them about taking care of their things, about sorting and organizing, and it keeps every toy from being dumped out to find that one elusive hot wheel.

3.  U P K E E P

My mother-in-law jokes that every night I go through a maniac clean-up mode. And, she is so right. If the dishes aren’t {mostly} done, the counters cleared, floors picked up and things in their general location, I just can’t relax.  So I make my way around the house putting things in their place.  It only takes a few minutes, but it helps me enjoy the remainder of my evening and is much more pleasant to wake up to a ‘reset’ house.  

Do you have any great ideas for keeping your house organized? Or maybe I need some tips on how to keep my house clean! Please share …


  1. I've so much enjoyed reading through your blog and seeing all your lovely inspiration and beautiful home!
    I read somewhere about the 15 minute rule: Everyone in the family is designated a room or two to be in charge of. At the end of the night for 15 minutes everyone picks up, puts away, cleans, sweeps etc. the rooms that they are in charge of. That way no one person has to do all the work and taking care of the house becomes a group/family effort. I wish I had implemented something like this years ago!

  2. LOVE this! I have a 6 month old and there are already toys everywhere! Thanks for this post! Hugs!

  3. Thank you so much! This post is really helpful to me. I agree with everything that you said, and think that creating more "concrete" boundries for toys is a great idea.

  4. I love this post....and i think you're right about teaching the boys how to organize their things....their future partners will thank you!

    As for cleaning, I use the motivated moms system. I found it through another blogger and I love it. Plus, it's only $8. I also make my hubby and daughter pick a chore from the list to help out. www.motivatedmoms.com Check it out!

  5. I'm liking your blog. I've passed along the Happy Award to you. You can view at my blog pinetreehome.blogspot.com