I have never decorated our home, and it looks like we just moved in a few weeks ago. Homeschooling truly doesn't take as much time as I thought it would, but it does take chunks out of my day. When I actually accomplish something, it seems to take me all day long, and I feel like I don't get to spend time with the children or relax with the baby. I also find myself totally exhausted, and it's just easier to let the mess lie.
Here are a few things that have helped me in the past.
1. When I first learned to take care of your appearance at the beginning of the day, it practically launched me into having a successful day at home. It helped me approach the job more professionally. Spending the day in pyjamas and slippers can give your mind the message that you are going to be casual, and your job suffers from a casual approach all day. Dressing up, and wearing shoes, gives it a professional approach.
Dressing up in pretty dresses was important to me, because I didn't want my family to have memories of me in the same old thing day after day, looking oppressed and tired. Today I have Miss Lillian and the boys around me a lot, and I want them to remember their grandmother wearing the enchanting little cotton prints and clear colors, with the trims and buttons and laces, my hair done up, and even pretty shoes.
If you have a baby to care for, I'd highly recommend that you let someone come over and fix your hair and give you a facial. Everyone seems to know of someone who does in-home demonstrations using a particular product they are selling, that they could invite over.
2. Having one wall decorated, or at least a portion of one wall, really motivated me when my children were little and the housework seemed insurmountable. Somehow, that little arrangement on the wall, with a mirror, a picture, a candle sconce and a shelf, gave me a starting place. I wanted to expand the area beneath it and clean the floor and put something there that was nice. When you have young children, wall decorating is the best because it won't get in the way and no one can touch it. Just hang a picture and put some complimentary accessories around it, whether it be a wreath or light of some sort. That one wall gave the tone for the rest of the house, and I kept going back to look at it. Then, I wanted to do the rest of the house in a similar way. That way, it was not all just cleaning and hard work, but a kind of crowning glory on top of all the labor.
3. Inviting someone over for a cup of tea and a scone is a great motivation to getting something done in a reasonable amount of time. I found if I made an appointment for someone to come over in a week, I looked forward to it all week and worked toward it.
4. Getting the front room or front entry way completely presentable, and maintaining it daily by swooping through it and picking up clutter, really gave me a lot more encouragement to keep working on other problem areas. The first room from the front door is what people will see when they enter the house and it can be an encouragement or a discouragement. Make sure the front porch represents what is on the inside of the house. Even if you have nothing, it can at least be swept clean and give people the impression that there is a "keeper" at home.
5. In Sidetracked Home Executives course, that went through the country about 30 years ago, we learned to begin at the front door and work clockwise through the house, leaving the kitchen til last. This is not necessarily deep cleaning, but picking up clutter and making everything at least look nice. We learned never to go anywhere until the kitchen was clean, the dishes washed, the bathroom clean, and the beds made.
6. Children can follow you around from room to room and see what you do and even help. You can give them things to put away. "Run to the bathroom and put this towel in there." "Take this to the kitchen and put it on the table." "Put this in the laundry." Kids love to be gophers and will save you a lot of time. They can put things in the trash, or hand you things while you are working in a room. They can unwind the cord on the vacuume cleaner and wind it back up again. They can save you a lot of time.
7. Having a daily tea time where you put out real china cups and serve just anything, even hot apple juice, makes a great reward, and the children just love it.
8. Reminding the children you are getting ready for Daddy to come home, puts the focus in the right place. Orderliness pleases God, as he, himself, put everything where it belonged, at the creation. Each day, he stood back and said, "It is good." You can look back at each corner of a room and say "This looks good." Check http://homeliving.blogspot.com/2007/01/creating-feeling-of-home.html for a previous post that has more ideas in it.
Thanks to every person who so graciously gave her time to add helpful suggestions!