First Time Home Owner...

Updated on July 31, 2010
L.N. asks from Fort Worth, TX
19 answers

I just recently purchased our very first home! We have been living in apartments since my husband and I got married, and the kids their whole lives.

What are some good tips, strategies for organization, keeping the house clean, ect.

I am a working mom, and have a 1.5 yr old and a 3.5 yr old, and a returning college student, so energy is not on my side. We were really bad about keeping the apartments clean, you know get lazy and try to rush when somebody came over, but this time I want to KEEP my house clean all the time. Im not a neat freak but I would like to be, I just run out of time and energy, any suggestions moms? Thanks

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So What Happened?

Well, my husband is a SAHD, well he has been out of work for so long thats what he has become. He is home ALL day with our youngest, the oldest is in preschool and I come home to a mess everyday. My frustration comes from having to pick up after him everyday, and I wasnt even home. Thanks for the advice, I am going to try and instill these instructions into my husband, lol and make him follow suite. THANKS LADIES

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answers from New London on

Ikea has these bins called Trofast or something like that for kids toys. It is a wooden frame with plastic different size/color bins. They have been a lifesaver.

Plus just getting large and medium sized bins for toys that look kind of nice that you can just throw everything into or an ottomon that you can keep in the tv room or family room to throw all the toys in. Also, deep shelving in closets is a must. Half shelves and half hanging up stuff or all shelves. A drawer just for tupperware is easier than a cabinet. Nothing falls out. Hooks in bathrooms, closets, inside pantry closets for keys, mittens, etc.



answers from Chicago on

I try to do a little bit every day 30-60, with two big pick up everything and sweep the floors once a week in the main living area. I also do at least one load of laundry a day --put it in first thing, put it in the dryer before heading out.

Outside the main living area, I do a deep clean to a different room every few weeks. I dust the whole house a few times a month, and do minor vacuuming once a week.

Usually on Sunday I deep clean the kitchen, and I try to attack one other room.

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answers from Jacksonville on

1) Do not buy more "stuff" just because you have a house now. Consider, then REconsider EVERYTHING you bring into your home, if it is not consumable (food, toilet tissue, papertowels, charcoal for the grill). ANYTHING that will need to be PUT somewhere... think long and hard before you buy/bring it into your home. THIS is where clutter starts... Clutter is the single biggest time waster. Even storage bins, if not carefully thought out, can become more clutter.

2) Pick two days a week (whatever days you want) and set the timer for 20 minutes. Spend 20 minutes (until the timer goes off) doing ONLY cleaning--- no clutter rearranging allowed--- just clean. Scrub toilets, spray/wipe mirrors, sweep floors, run the vacuum. Stop. Have a glass of cold water, use the bathroom, then set the timer for 10 more minutes, and finish that one last thing that you REALLY needed to get done.

3) during the week... have your kids empty their dirty clothes into the laundry room (and you do this also) every other day or so... then sort everything so that all you have to do is toss a load into the washer and let it run, while you are making dinner, eating dinner, watching an episode of Jeopardy! with the family, whatever... Toss it into the dryer when done. Fold/hang put away the load before you go to bed. Do NOT leave the load in the dryer. That is my pet peeve... because as surely as you do... you will end up running another load of wash and go to put it in the dryer and there will be the last load still in there! urg!

4) Teach your little ones to help. They can match up socks out of the dryer, or carry a stack of shirts to their room. The 3 yr old can take his/her plate to the kitchen counter when they are done with dinner, and help put away their own clothes. It can be fun if you challenge them. ("I bet I can put my Tshirts away faster than you can put your socks away!... ready...? set....? GO!")



answers from Los Angeles on

Well, since I am a neat freak and my little ones are the same age as yours, 18 months and almost 4 in August, I will give you a couple of my suggestions. Make your 3.5 year old help you clean up his toys and make it a habit. I started this when my 4 year old was little and both he and his brother help clean up when it's time to pick up the toys. My 4 year old also helps make his bed every morning. Also, I agree with one of the other suggestions, do a little every day or every other day. Sunday's I do laundry, my husband and I do the dishes every night, I dust upstairs and downstairs once a week, and my biggest help that I just started a few months ago was having someone come in just once a month to do a really good cleaning. If you can afford it it is definitely worth it and once a month really does help!



answers from Los Angeles on

I've been doing 15 mintues everyday in the morning or before I leave, I watch the clock and just go! This is before you do anything! Brush your teeth, shower or even sip some coffee...peeing is my only exception. Another thing is make your bed the second you get up ESPECIALLY if you have to pee really badly because then you will hurry, its good habit and one I have only made since home ownership! Just do it!



answers from Wichita Falls on

Check out She teaches how to keep CHAOS (can't have anybody over syndrome) out of your life and teaches you how to FLY (finally love yourself). She has lots of helpful tips.



answers from Dallas on

I haven't read the other comments so I apologize if I am repeating. Congratulations on owning your own home. Toy bins and shelves in the play area is essential. Put pictures on the visible area of the bin and teach your kids to put up their toys when they see them lying around. The pictures will help them learn where to put them. For example a picture of a car for cars and trucks, a picture of a ball and bat for sports stuff, a picture of a teddy bear for stuffed animals, etc. Also your house will never be spotless for very long with young children. Pick a few things you'd like to see done that day like having all the dishes washed, the tables cleaned off, and the floors clean of debris. Tackling a few items that bother you the most will give you the most satisfaction. No one has enough energy or time to work, take care of the kids, cook and clean. But we can do a few each day and do those well. Also enlist your husband to help if you can. Give him some things you'd like done. He may not do it as well as you'd like but at least it's getting done.



answers from Phoenix on

I have the fun of trying to keep my house clean and organized not just for myself, my husband and my 14 month old daughter, but also because I own a home daycare and have people in and out of my house all day long. We have a set of daily chores that my husband and I share responsibility for, not including the daily cleaning the daycare needs: cleaning/organizing the kitchen, doing the dishes, at least one load of laundry washed->put away, steam mopping the living room and kitchen, taking the garbage to the alley, scooping the cat box. I made a list and posted it on the refrigerator where we both see it all day long. We TRY to get everything on the daily chore list done everyday, but if we miss something one or two days, it's not that bad. We also have a list of weekly chores: dusting the living room, dusting our bedroom, dusting our daughter's room, washing->putting away her laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming and steam mopping our upstairs. Again, we TRY to do everything every week, but if something gets missed one week, it's not so bad. This has helped keep the house somewhat organized and mostly clean without either one of us having to give up an entire day off to clean the whole house at once. It makes it seem much less daunting of a task when everything is split up.
Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I think it helps just to be conscious of when you have something(like a shirt or shoes) that you take off- take the extra 30 seconds to put it away instead of leaving the shoes at the door or the shirt on a chair. Get into the habit of always clearing your dishes from the table after you eat(teach your children to do this too-) and then do a 20 min, clean up before bed. Teach your children to pick up after they are done playing with their toys- this you will have to help them with, and you will be doing most of the cleaning right now as they are learning. They are old enough to help out with simple chores(carrying folded laundry to proper rooms, taking laundry from dryer to couch or wherever you fold it, and helping to load or unload dishwasher). They will love helping you and you will be teaching your children to be responsible for their stuff.
Visit Martha Stewart- she has a great list of things you should be doing daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to keep up with your house. Things that aren't hard to do at all if you keep up with it. If you just keep it clean as the mess is made, it is so much easier to handle rather than trying to do a deep clean when your house is a mess.
Congrats on your new house!


answers from Dallas on

Hello L.,

Congrats on your new home. I know you have to be so excited. I am a Professional Organizer, family coach and speaker. I own the company called "Get Organized!" a Professional Organizing company; organizing for mom's, by mom's.

We offer 2 hour consultations allowing us to give you tons of advice and talk about systems for kids school papers, photo's, bills, paper clutter, time management and so much more. We actually do the work too but the consultation is where we start.

If you are interested go to our website at and click on Organizing Serivces and read about how we can really help you.

Congrats again,

L. B.
[email protected]



answers from Phoenix on =) The others have some great ideas so far. Great questions! Congratulations!


answers from Spokane on

My big issue has always been laundry...ugh! My trick is to throw in a load first thing in the morning before leaving the house (once you get all your laundry done, this load is usually all the stuff your family has worn the day before) and then into the dryer when you get home and put it away before bed! I save the towels and sheets and white clothes for the weekend.

As far as the rest of the house is concerned, I am big on 10 minute tidys! A quick tidy before bed and all is right with the world when you wake up in the morning. I make sure to load the dishwasher before bed and wipe down the counters. In the morning I unload, then it is ready to load through-out the day and ready for after dinner.

Keeping the clutter down is a big help. Sort the mail as soon as you get it, I usually stop by the big trash can outside even before coming into the house and throwing away any and all junk! I bought myself a small basket for the kitchen for bills that need to be paid.

My house is no where near spotless...but it is clean enough that I do not feel embarrassed if company ever comes over un-expectedly!

Weekends is when I usually do all the things that are more time consuming, like mopping and vacuuming the stairs and what-not.

Hope some of this helps...keeping up with a house can be very daunting if you let it get out of control, my laundry trick and making sure the dishes are loaded every night and a 10 minute tidy before bed really helps keep everything under control and it really is not that time consuming!



answers from Dallas on

My mother was super organized and a stay at home mom for four kids. She kept a basket in each room and into it went anything that did not belong in that room at the end of the day. On Saturday, we all gave five minutes in each room. We set the timer and split up dusting, vacuuming, cleaning and putting away the basket. She cleaned one room per day and our house was spotless.

Now I am a working mother of three. I have implemented my mom's tricks and added a few of my own. Each child was given a rack in the dishwasher or silverware. When it is clean, that is their job. Each child sorts their laundry as it comes to the w/d. Whites, darks, reds and colors all have a bin. Any delicates have to be zipped in a delicate bag (I have at least 8) and that tells everyone (especially my husband) "DO NOT DRY". Clean clothes are sorted into rope baskets that sit on a shelf above the w/d. One for each family member. When it is full, they have to empty. EVERYONE, cleans the kitchen after each meal until it is done. This includes wiping down the table, counter and sink. At 1 1/2 they are not too young to start. I keep wet wipes above my toilet and use these to wipe the outside of the bowl and then just toss in the trash. I also use them to wipe down the sinks and faucet.



answers from Spartanburg on

What makes me less crazy is to forget about trying to be "perfect".

I have the kids (and hubby) pick up their toys, dirty clothes, etc before every meal (while I am cooking.....makes it easier to keep them out of the kitchen lol). That helps to keep the house picked up, which for me, is 3/4 of the battle! Then, I make sure I CLEAN one room a day (no matter how many rooms need it). When I clean that room, I CLEAN that room top to bottom, including organizing, decluttering. If I can't get the whole thing done in 30-60 minutes, then I leave it for tomorrrow and finish up then. I never go to the next room until that room is completed.

I means that I don't always get to each room in a week, but it does get done. If I make an "easy" dinner that has a bake time, I either help the kids/hubby pick up their things or I take a look at the toilets or other "dirty" areas and do a quick spot clean (so that it isn't 2 weeks in between toilet/sink cleanings).

Just make sure you are still enjoying your children/family. That is more important right now than a clean house! But, I agree, a clean, organized home=a happy wife/mother! ;)



answers from Dallas on

I have to agree with those who've suggested She is awesome:)!



answers from Dallas on

Look at for ways to stay on top of things. My personal ideas, keep bathroom cleaning stuff in each bathroom, when you bathe the kids, clean the rest of the bathroom. Before you get in the shower one night, spray down your shower and clean it then hop in and clean yourself. Make sure everything has a place and put things back in their place. Get the kids in the habit of putting away one toy/game before they take out another. Spend 5 minutes per night before bed (with our without the kids help since they are so small) picking up things and putting them where they belong, like picking up the shoes and random toys and putting them up, If you can, pick 1 thing to do per day like Monday, master bathroom, Tuesday, dust house, Wed, vaccumm house, Thursday, other baths, Friday, whatever is left. Little kids like to help and do better when they are in the room with you. You can give the 3.5 yr old clorox wipes to wipe down their bathroom cabinet (with supervision) and a dust rag that you have already sprayed to wipe furniture. The 1.5 year old can use a plain rag and get in the habit of dusting as well.

Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

Totes is my trick...
I get the smaller clear ones (bigger than a shoe box, smaller than the huge ones) And I segregate our stuff... ESPECIALLY TOYS.
We do not do the whole huge toybox that can be dumped out... The blocks, barbies, pollys, animals, trains, cars, etc all have their own "homes" One does not get dug in unless the others are picked up first.
Anything can go in a tote... :-) All my craft stuff has its own tote... Paints, beads, stickers, etc are in shoebox sized totes. Crayons and markers are in seperate close able pencil cases...

Also, doing a little every day. Make a schedule... Sweep one day... clean bathrooms another. I hate it when people say that it only takes a few minutes to keep a house clean every day... But for the general house keeping stuff its true... Then you just have to battle the toys...


answers from Phoenix on

I am not a neat freak by any means and have always lived in a home, either owned or rented. I also own an insurance agency so I work outside the home full time, have a hubby, 3 kids, 2 dogs (outside) and 2 fish tanks. The thing that has really helped me the most is to:

1. have a very helpful and active husband that willingly helps with the housework/yardwork. He puts the dishes in the dishwasher, I take them out. He takes out the trash and the trash cans. He does the laundry, but when it's done, I help put it away. He sweeps the floors and I dust. We do all this when we can, it's not a strick schedule. Both of us clean the bathrooms as they need it, not consistantly. Everything else gets done when we get around to it!

2. don't stress if the house isn't "spotless". All of my friends don't have a spotless house. I don't care if they come over and we haven't swept (we don't have carpet) or that there are dishes in the sink or some toys on the floor. No's life...

3. This is the biggest...keep the clutter down. You don't need a bunch of knick-knacks piled up all over the place and fake plants, etc. It just adds to the dust and more stuff to move around for cleaning. And keep the kids toys to a minimum. Yours are young enough to not even miss something if you get rid of it. Our kids are at our ex's every other weekend so on a weekend that they are gone we will just go thru their rooms and get rid of things. I have been doing this for the last couple years and they have not missed one single thing!!! In fact, about 6 months ago I got rid of about 30 of my daughters Barbies and clothes and she hasn't even asked about them! One time my son asked for something and I said, it must be in your room...and he forgot about it and never asked again. So my point being to have a place for the kids to put their things and start them at a young age to put it away...keep it OFF the floor and that will give them a great headstart in life.

4. Check out I'm sure prior posts have mentioned it. It didn't really work for me since I'm a procrastinator and do things when I want!

Congrats on the new home. I'm an insurance agent and in this ecomony many are losing their homes or can't qualify. Good luck to you!!!


answers from Norfolk on

I haven't read all the other answers yet, so I dont know if this is just repeating somebody else's ideas, but here it goes:
1.Do one load of laundry every day from start to finish: what works best for me is to gather up the day's clothes as soon as my son goes to sleep and wash it, then put it in the dryer before bed. In the morning I get it all put away really fast (putting it all away has always been the hardest part for me-- i would end up with PILES of laundry overflowing from my closet and completely bare drawers/hangers). Keeping up with it constantly is amazingly easy, and saves on so much time.
2. Split up the work! I'm a SAHM, and it took a lot for me to admit that I still needed my husbands help around the house. For a working mom, it must be so incredibly difficult to keep up with all the housework by yourself so you have to have your partners help. As soon as dinner is done, one of us takes little man up to give him a bath while the other cleans the dinner dishes and straightens up the living room/play area. Then its relaaax time after he's asleep :) Or for you I guess that would be homework time
3. Get "bigger projects" done on the weekends and do them first thing in the morning to get them out of the way. Things like cleaning bathrooms, mopping, dusting, etc.

My husband and I are both pretty sloppy people, but the past few months i've started just doing these simple things and its made an amazing difference in our house. Having a clean house is such a stress reliever and im finding that it's so much easier to maintain a clean house than it is to try and clear it out in a hurry once a week or two. Good luck to you, and congratulations on your first home!

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