Thank you so much for your email. Before I started homeschooling, housework seemed to have been easier to manage. The most important thing to remember about housework is that the process (doing chores) is more important than the final product (a clean house). St. Teresa of Calcutta once said that "our Lord does not ask us to be successful, He asks us to be faithful".
Here are a couple of suggestions that may help:
1. Use a reward / privilege program for the children. For example, when little children do their chores, they can earn a sticker and once they earn five stickers, they can get ice cream. Older children, on the other hand, can be a bit trickier. You can use chores to help them earn their "privilege" to use the computer, watch TV, etc. If they don't complete their chores, they don't get to use the computer.
2. You may set aside a time in your daily schedule to quickly just pick up and put things back in order. For example, everyone can do a quick pick up around the house after lunch or around 5 pm (just before your husband comes home). You can also choose to pick up after all the children have gone to bed.
3. You may also set aside a day during the week or during the month where everyone in the family gets involved in cleaning the house. For example, every Saturday morning, you can assign certain rooms to each child or assign certain tasks (ds1 can dust, ds2 can vacuum, etc.). Afterwards, all the children can be rewarded with a field trip.
4. Preschoolers are very eager to help at this stage. Examples of housework they can do are: putting toys back in their bins (we have a song we use for this and IT WORKS !), picking up dirty laundry around the house (make sure to use a basket they can carry), sorting laundry (whites and darks mainly). You could also make it into a game. For example, I assign one child to pick up cars, another child to pick up blocks. I put the timer on and make them race ! The good news is that toddlers really love to imitate their preschool siblings at this stage !
5. Most importantly, have a sincere talk with everyone in the family. I always tell my children that "love is not what you feel, it's what you do." Doing chores is love in action. Doing chores is a wonderful opportunity to show love to God, parents, and siblings.
While teaching children to do chores can be challenging, doing housework helps our children learn important life skills that no book in the world could ever teach. Hope this helps!
Saints Martha and Mary, Pray For Us!