Step 1 - Lock your children in a room. No, no, no, no. I have that backward. Start with the easiest room to clean and lock the kids OUT. Like I'll start with the little kids room. I clean that first then lock the door. Why? They can't get in there to make a mess. Where there is tidy and organization thats where they strike. They are like a tornado, going from clean room to clean room leaving a disaster in their wake. As you move from room to room going from easiest to hardest, lock the doors behind you. If they rooms don't have doors corral the kids out to the next room. Do the hardest room last. I know it flies in the face of conventional wisdom that you start with the hardest so you have the energy to finish. Actually if you start with the hardest you won't have any energy to finish. Do you want to drop dead before you get 2 rooms done or do you want to drop dead with only 2 rooms left to do? At least most of your house will be clean then right?
Step 2 - Tidy up. I use laundry baskets. If they are all full a box or bag works just as well. Stick everything in there. Don't go around trying to put everything away as soon as you pick it up. You'll get distracted, it takes too much time and the kids will be back in there making a mess before you even put away 3 things. Don't forget to look under beds! You might need an extended grabber for this job. Good bookcases? Shelves? Guaranteed there is stuff thrown up there. Look behind tvs, fish tanks, desks.
Step 3 - Vacuum. This usually scares the little ones away so you can tidy the room. Actually its amazing what a clean floor does for a room. This is where you want to pass out on the sofa cause the room LOOKS clean, don't be fooled. There are dust mites laughing at you. Grim on the windows are scoffing you. Don't give in!
Step 4 - Dust and Clean the windows. Yea, those are windows. At one time you could see out of them. These are jobs I like to get the kids involved with cause by this time they are antsy and well, they made the mess - they can clean it up! Don't forget to dust the ceiling fans. Nothing worse than turning on a fan and everyone gets covered with dust.
Step 5 - Wash the walls (and counters if you are doing bathrooms or a kitchen). By this point you have walked away from the blog thinking I am insane. Have you looked at your walls? There are hand prints on them in various food products, like chocolate and cheese. At least I hope thats chocolate. If you were conned into thinking there was actually a thing called "washable" flat paint, then you can skip this step. Don't want to scrub a hole in your drywall now! Actually, washing the walls will give the room a freshly painted look. And if you do it often enough it won't be that difficult the next time you have to do it. Like when you have company - thats when people who don't live there come to visit. You know people who haven't learned to block out the mess like you have.
Step 6 - Put away the stuff in the laundry baskets. I usually round up the kids for this one. If everyone takes a couple of things to put away this can be done in under 10 minutes. Now wasn't that easier than you trying to do it yourself?