i had a friend come over who has three kids and was amazed at how clean my house stays and how well my children work at keeping it nice. so i shared my secret and now her house is nice too. i thought maybe people on here might be going through the same thing... i sure had a rough time of it for awhile. but with so many kids.... No joke i have a large family. as you can see in my sig. i have 7 chidren ranging from 6-17 mostly boys and man are they messy. We live in a three bedroom house but the entire upstairs is a huge room that we have made into the childrens floor. My husband and i are downstairs. . it can get pretty packed in here for sure and now that is summer we are all home so the yard which is huge and the house which is not is ran through all day long. However that being said it is clean. it is always clean or else someone is cleaning it. it used to be me! Until i could not take it anymore. I decided to redesign the way we do things awhile back and ever since it is BLISS! all chores are done on time with a smile no one person does more than the rest and we play all the time. my kids pick up after themselves and i am able to get my work done for graduate school. SO if you have kiddos and you can not seem to get them to clean or cooperate and you are overwhelmed i have a system that works really well. it is not perfect... this morning my daughter ran the dishwasher with the wrong soap so it was bubble mania and they all made PB&J and when i saw the kitchen i was shocked but they have since cleaned it and are off making the next mess they will clean. the 16 and 17 year olds did three loads of laundry and my husband and i make dinner together. which is fun. I run a tight ship but i would not say i am strict. i am consistant though. which is important. here is what we do. I have a corkboard with a calendar and a graph with each childs name on it. We make lists of all the fun things we want to do this summer. different kinds of games picnics things like that. so the focus is on the games and the fun. I went to the dollar store with the kiddos and hey picked out 20$ worth of small toys like water guns and mini frisbees and bubbles, little stuff. when we got home i filled our treasure basket with the toys. on the chart we have a section with the colored star stickers on them each color is for something they do that is good. yellow=cleaning Green=picking up after themselves without me asking silver=winning games Red= extras and things they do for eachoher Blue=each persons own thing they are working on an example is as follows. 6yearold=asks for toast all the time but wot make it himself if he makes it himself he gets a star the next day. 9year old whines if he makes declarative statements gets a star. each child has a thing they work on but the focus is ot on what they were doing wrong it is on what they can do right! that is important. i also give out the red star for when something breaks or someone left the toilet seat down or made did something crazy and they think they are gona get int trouble and they own up to it. used to be i would ask who did it? and they would all just stare at me like they don't speak english. now if he person who does it says i did it. that person may get in trouble but it is less severe and they get a star for telling the truth. that has changed things a lot. i hear I did it all the time! so every time they do any of these things they get stars. after 10 stars they get a prize.the prize can be from the rreasure basket and it can also be that they pick the activity for he following day or maybe what wemake for dinner. now i do this with the teens too. they were funny cuz they did not wat to do it but i said they had to in order to get privledges like the car or going somewhere special ie.. privledges. Now they do it all the time and they work together to help eachother reach the goals they have set. these kids beg for jobs to do to get stars. for the most part they are very mindful about picking up after themselves and come to tell and show me how well they did and ask do we get a star? they take it very seriously and help eachother with it. they also have stopped playing video games and come up with fabulous ideas for games and activities. before i did this they would act like without the PS3 or Wii life was a boring thing. i had them help with making the calander and they picked all the rewards and even thought about what they could do better. so if you are pulling your hair out trying to get your house in order and your kiddos are not as helpful as you may like try it and see if it works for you. the last year or so has been heaven compared to before! i feel free to ejoy my family so much more becasue i am ot always cleaning. i also found as an added bonus they listen better and respond better to requests then they used to. they also do a better job because if they dont they do not get stars. positive reinforcement is amazing and they look for things to make our family better. one of our activities in the board is a talent show and they are all super excited even the teenagers are coming up with great ideas for what they are going to do another added bonus is that my husband and i get more quality time at night and i am not so sleepy as i used to be hope this helps someone it really changed our lives. gotta go we are having a balloon fight in a few minutes! (my 8 year olds pick from yesterdays blue star competition)! let me know if this is something that even intrests anyone?or maybe share what you do. i would love to add to my tool belt!