Some of you know me, and know that my husband and I have 3 kids, ages 4, 3, and almost 8 months. Things are chaotic around our house at best. Very seldom is there a quiet moment when nobody needs or wants anything.
If you are lucky enough to have (or smart enough to have planned) a generous age gap between your kids, then things may go a little more smoothly than they do for us.
With all the kids so close in age, things are constantly in motion at our house. There are always clothes on the laundry room floor to be washed, always clothes on the bed (or bedroom floor) to be folded. If the dishes are clean in the dishwasher, that's just as good as being clean in the cabinet.
Some of you may think this slack. That's fine. We all have different visions of what we want our homes to be like. I'm less concerned with how our home looks as I am with the Happiness content. As long as everyone is happy (within reason...ie: "no, you can't put applesauce on the dog, no you can't have ice cream while you're taking a bath, no you can't put mud on your baby brother...") then I'm happy. Even if we are never actually caught up, close enough is good enough for me.
Other things that have helped save our sanity these last 5 years are:
~never buying new furniture - it's gonna get drawn on, stuff spilled on it, possibly broken by someone jumping on it...don't waste your money and wait til the kids get older before you invest in this. in the mean time, hit the thrift stores,yard sales, freecycle, and craigslist; you'll save money and your sanity when you kids are eating their popsicles on the couch you just brought home.
~making the kids eat breakfast - trust me, if you want to find out exactly how long and how loud a toddler can scream, get up late for an appointment and have them "eat" in the car. (a pop tart is not breakfast, I don't care what the commercials say, and yes I am guilty of passing these awful sugar coated sugar pastries off as breakfast) kids need to sit at the table in the morning and eat a well balanced breakfast. They need protein to start the day. I have done little experiments with this and have noticed that my kids behavior greatly improves when they eat something like yogurt or oatmeal and fruit for breakfast as opposed to cold sugary cereal or poptarts.
~setting a routine/finding your current routine (I hate this one) - this is, quite possibly, the worst one for me. I am random. I can admit this. It is really hard for me to go by a written routine. I just can't bring myself to do it. I always get distracted and sidetracked. But then I thought about it. We do have a routine. We get up, eat breakfast, watch some cartoons, run errands, we have meals at roughly the same time every day, we have play time, we have "daddy days" when my husband is off (those days are normally spent outside). We don't have a set bedtime for the kids. They go to bed when they are tired. I have yet to see forcing them to their rooms make them go to sleep any faster. Find your routine and try to stick to it as much as possible. If your kids are comfortable in their everyday, then they'll be less likely to pitch a fit when things are a little off.
~(almost) never buying new clothes - I'm not saying you can't go shopping, I'm saying, change where you shop. Get up early on a Saturday morning and grab a paper. Go to every yard sale advertising children's products (and a couple for yourself). If you take $75 with you, you could theoretically stock up on clothes for the next year or two (I will buy stuff that is 2-4 sizes too big if the price is right. It doesn't take up much space at the top of the closet). Kids grow up fast. Some stuff you buy, they will never wear. Other stuff (usually the nice stuff) they will decide is the best play outfit in the world and will ruin with marker/mud/crayon/soap/food coloring. Do your wallet and your mind a favor and buy some gently loved clothing for your gently loved bundle of joy (no matter how old they are).
Hope these tips/thoughts helped you. If you have any you would like to add, leave them in a comment or on the Facebook page.