These are just the things that worked for me. Results vary and everyone's situation is different.
CUT THE CLUTTER: Nothing makes a house harder to handle than an overabundance of stuff. Storing it, cleaning it, moving it, wading through it to find the important thing among the stuff. Dealing with the memories and emotions contained in the stuff. I've talked about cutting clutter before. Here are three ideas:
--Take it in steps--one closet a day, or 15 minutes a day, or 15 items a day
--Evaluate: does it have positive sentimental value? Do you use it? Do you fit it? If not, toss it.
--Get rid of duplicates and things that bring back hurtful or sad memories.
FLY LADY: flylady.net teaches you how to keep your house clean on a regular basis. Now if you let her, she can take over your life, but here are the three things that I find keep my house reasonable on a daily basis:
--Swish and Swipe: once a day wipe the bathroom sink and toilet. Use the toilet brush and wipe the inside. It takes 60 seconds; I usually do it while I gargle.
--Daily laundry: one load a day and only one load a day. There are 6 in our house, and we all have a laundry day, plus a day for towels and linens
--Kelly's Missions. Kelly, one of the FLY Lady team members, breaks down deep cleaning chores into 15 minute chores a day. I follow her, and the house stays nice without much effort.
HOUSE MINIONS: This is easier for some than others, of course. Each child in my house gets 2 chores a day. The morning chore is like the swish and swipe: a quick wipe down of the sink and toilet or cleaning the catbox or picking up the Wii and videos in the living room. The afternoon chore takes about 15 minutes: vacuum a room, windex the bathroom mirrors, dust the basement bookshelves. All simple and small, but when 4 kids are doing them, the house stays very nice.
HIRE OUT: Not everyone can do this, I know, but sometimes, it's worth the money. For example, I hate yard work, but I've done it all our marriage. This year, I discovered a landscaper who will mow, trim and take care of the weeds for $25 a week plus chemicals as needed. It's worth every penny to me.
REASONABLE STANDARDS: It's nice to have a clean house, and things do run more easily when the house is clean, but that doesn’t mean a clean house is the ultimate goal. It also changes according to your life. My house was a lot messier when I had younger kids. I let it get crazy when I'm on a big writing assignment, and then take a day to "reset it."