We always pin our socks together before we throw them in the wash. Otherwise, it's a truly hopeless sock situation for all.
I have a personal rule: Do what you hate first. So when I have to tackle the kitchen, I wash the pots and put them away before tackling anything else. Boy do I hate washing pots. And I hate putting them away, trying to stack and fit them in my little kitchen cabinets. Oy. I just hate washing anything big: pots, baking sheets, stuff like that. If I don't do it first, it just sits there looming. If I do it first, then the night work is so much more pleasant.
A rule for Mama's sanity: At the end of the night, no toys allowed in the living room. Please bring them in during the day and play! But at bedtime, they have to go home. To make this successful, I need to remember to call attention to it at least an hour before bedtime. Otherwise I get a lot of whining and not a lot of helping.
Plan the week's menu and the week's grocery shopping. I find that when I do this, there is so much less stress. It's not a hard and fast plan because sometimes things come up. The weekend usually stays pretty loose. But during the week, it's so much easier to know what's happening and what I need to get together and prep. I plan the week by first checking out the kids' hot lunch choices (so they don't have chicken for lunch, chicken for dinner, etc.), checking out what I have in the house, and figuring out what I need to get at the store. It's amazing how hard it is to come up with a meal idea at 3:00 on a Tuesday with a little baby on your lap. So much easier to do the thinking in advance.
I have a small drawer set aside for Nate's snug items. When he's getting a little big for something, I put it in that drawer. That way they don't get mixed into the other larger drawers. If he doesn't wear it again, it stays put, and when the drawer fills up, out they go. For the older kids, it's a laundry basket tucked in the closets.
Make the bed within 20 minutes of waking up.
So as I was cleaning up and enjoying a very peaceful afternoon, I snapped some of my own little humble corners....
Going down the stairs you'll see some painted Maxwell pumpkins. Also a painting of the Seine that I found at a consignment store, signed and numbered: Score! The front door has the kids' school schedules, calenders, and notices held up with magnets. Our bedroom door has more M&M art :)