1. I used to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and then tell my children we are going to clean as fast and furious as we can in this one room until the timer goes off. Then we would change rooms and start over. It was a lot of fun and the kids worked off some of their energy. It helps to assign jobs to everyone - someone declutters, someone dusts, someone windexes, someone vacuums, etc.
2. Sometimes when we had an especially cluttered house, I would go around and place some hidden treasures under pieces of clutter. The rules were:
You can only pick up one piece of clutter at a time.
The item has to be put completely away.
Stick to items at your height level. The youngest children take the floor, next in size take the level at couches and chairs, the older ones do tables.
This was also lots of fun. They really move so they can find all the hidden stuff. I would put a dollar or 2 at each level, maybe some candy (which was a treat at our house), a pass for a day off, a pass for a special outing, and things like that. Use your imagination and make it what your kids like.
3. I got this from Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. Ring a bell and tell them in 15 minutes the "Silent Butler will make an appearance. Then, when the 15 minutes is up, go around and pick up anything out of place and put it in a box. They have to either earn it back or you can give it back after a set amount of time.
4. Another idea from SHE is to have the "House Fairy" make a visit. This can be you or a zany friend or relative. In the book, Peggy put on an old tutu and tights, flippers, some kind of mask and carried a wand. She just showed up at Pam's house to make a house inspection. If the kids' rooms passed they got a prize. This visit was totally unexpected and without warning. Have a camera at-the-ready for a great family memento.
5. Make your children separate waking up, before school, after school, before bed lists of things to do. I cut out pictures or made simple drawings for my younger children who couldn't read. Put a time on the tasks. Also, set a ground rule for how many days a chart can be skipped. (Like if they go to a friend's house after school. I home schooled, but we still needed this rule.)
6. When assigning chores to the children it is a good idea to let them do it for a long time. I used to think that we had to change jobs weekly or even daily so they wouldn't get bored or so it would be "fair", but I have changed my thinking on this. If you allow the child to keep the same job they get proficient and fast at it. Show them how to do it, make sure they do it expertly by inspecting their work, then let them do it just as quickly as they can. This will teach them to establish a routine and find shortcuts.
7. Make sure every room has a laundry basket or hamper. Then tell the children which clothes you are washing that day. "Gather Laundry" will be on the "Before School" list.
8. Instead of keeping used towels in the bathroom, make a place to hang towels in each person's bedroom. This keeps your bathroom looking fresh and reduces towel confusion and clutter. How often you change towels is a matter of personal preference.
9. Speaking of towels, when my children were at home I let them each pick a color. Then this child had that color of towel, drinking glass, toothbrush, etc. I always knew who had left the glass out, AND one person didn't dirty 10 glasses in a day. They would get caught if their glass was off color. You could get them a whole place setting of dishes, but we never had the need to do this since the glasses were the main problem.