But the last couple of times, I started a practice that has worked incredibly well. We got the entire house clean in only a couple of hours, the kids worked hard and we were still in good moods at the end!
What I did was really simple. We have a large white board on the wall (what homeschooler doesn't, right?) so I just grabbed a dry erase marker and started writing jobs that needed to be done, keeping it as specific as possible. For example:
sweep and mop the kitchen floor
dust the living room
bring boys' laundry to laundry room
pick up dining room
clean off counters in kitchen
The kids read over the list, chose a job they want to do and start in. When they finish the first job, they chose another and then another. I work off of the list, too, but I also roam about and supervise. I give tips on how to do a job better (start in the corner when you mop, not in the doorway), check to make sure the job is actually done and remind them about forgotten parts (there are still dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, so it's not clean yet), and keep everyone focused on the job at hand (let's finish cleaning before we stop to play with Barbies, ok?).
When a job is done to a kid's satisfaction, they put a dot or a checkmark or a smiley face beside it. When a job is done to my satisfaction, I wipe it off the board.
There are some caveats...
I reserve the right to add more items if I remember them as we go.
The kids know which jobs they have not been "trained" for. These are off limits for them and they have to choose something else. Otherwise it's a first-come first-served kinda thing and there is no whining about what job you don't get to do.
And finally, if it takes you too long to chose a job one will be chosen for you.
I love the results of this method. It works so much better for us than chore charts, job jars, assignments or nagging. And the kids appreciate that they can look and see how much longer the job is going to take. Plus, they don't have me giving them three different jobs at once because I have to tell someone to do it before I forget about it!
All in all, it's a very successful method for all of us.