One of the challenges of training kids to be able to clean is helping them "see" what needs to be done. How many times have they announced that their room is clean, and you find that it still looks like a bomb went off in there? They often don't see their own mess.
The same thing is true for us moms. We need to train our own eyes to see the mess sometimes. Well, in my case, our messes are only too obvious. But we get used to seeing newspapers and toys and unfolded clothes laying around and don't even realize how it affects our subconscious need for order. We wonder why we just can't feel good about our home life.
So here's an easy list of the Minimum Maintenance activities to help you "see" what should be done.
Kitchen: dishes, countertops, sweep. (OK, it does take longer than 15 minutes, I lied.)
Entry: pick up, no backpacks, shoes, stuff to take upstairs. You don't want to trip on stuff as you come in the door.
Family Room: newspaper, books, remotes, trash, pillows straightened, laundry not slung over the couch
Bedrooms: Everyone responsible for keeping their own room neat: beds made, clothes picked up off of floor, trash thrown away. Obviously 2 year olds can't make their own bed, but if you spend a few minutes with your small child, helping them "see" what should be done, and then doing most of it yourself, it will gradually transition as they become more responsible.
Mail Center: (ahem, if you have one) junk mail thrown, bills and important papers where they go, etc.
You always want to start with the big items (bed, table top, countertops) and work down to smaller areas. And work with gusto! Why take hours to do what can be done in minutes? Leave yourself time to do fun stuff so you aren't a slave to your house. Try an "apronon" with pockets to put little items in as you go.
I found that I don't do ALL the rooms, and all the rooms don't take 5 minutes EVERY DAY. That's where being flexible is important. When my kids were little, it was nearly impossible to go from room to room without interruption. Maybe that's why I liked picking up at night.
I always kept some kind of basket in each room (living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc) that I could chuck toys into for the easiest possible clean up. It wasn't the most organized way to handle toys, but it helped keep the floor from looking like a minefield, and made it easy for little helpers to do a quick pick-up, too.