Housekeeping ain't no joke."
Louisa May Alcott
Keeping a house tidy is not an easy task. Nothing stays neat for long and it requires constant attention to maintain some semblance of order. Does that mean that the mama must run around all day long picking up dirty socks, smoothing covers on beds, washing dishes, sweeping floors, and changing laundry? No. But it does mean that there has to be a bit of discipline throughout the day to help things along. For the past few years I have tried to form the habit of tidying things up three times a day around meals. It truly sounds terrible and time consuming, but I can assure you that it is not.
If a family works together to tidy a room or two, take care of some laundry, and tidy the kitchen and table three times a day (twice if the little people head off to school and/or the parents work outside of the home), I can guarantee you that your home will be presentable. The nice thing about working with a routine like this is that if the morning or afternoon tasks don't get completed, it is no big deal to catch up at dinner and go to bed at night with a perfectly tidy home!
Here is how we do it:
Morning: Everyone tidies their bedrooms while Mama tidies hers, puts a load of laundry in the washing machine and prepares breakfast. Once breakfast is over, the table is cleared and cleaned, crumbs are swept, dishes are washed, and the counters are wiped.
Afternoon: While Mama prepares lunch, the rooms that were played in are quickly tidied. Lunch is eaten and then the table is cleared and cleaned, crumbs are swept, dishes are washed, and the counters are wiped. The laundry is switched to the dryer.*
Evening: Dinner is prepared while the the rooms that were played in are quickly tidied. Once dinner is over, the table is cleared and cleaned, crumbs are swept, dishes are washed, and the counters are wiped. The clean and dry laundry is folded and put away by Mama and all of the children (even the littlest toddlers can help!).
A very important thing to note is that everyone in the family should help with whatever they can do. When a people become parents, they do not automatically become slaves for their children. As your little ones grow, enlist them to help you with these tasks. Three-year-olds can pick up toys, clear a plate from the table, and help put away clothing. Older children can (and should!) do more to help their parents. Children truly do enjoy an orderly living space and catch on very quickly to a routine of tidying up.
*If there is more than one load of laundry to do, then the laundry should be switched more often. Do your best to get it all put away after dinner though!