We've all had "those days".
Your kids, when you eventually manage to get them out of bed, eat their breakfast at snail speed. They dress one inch of sock at a time....over twenty minutes per sock. Your laundry basket is overflowing, the house needs vacuuming and mopping, the sink is full of dishes because there was a disagreement about whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher. The dog just threw up on the couch. You call your best friend to vent and they aren't home. You get the kids sitting down working on their math and leave the room to start a load of laundry, and return to find that the older kids have scattered to who-knows-where and the preschooler is painting at your table....sans paper. Your husband calls to say he'll be working late that evening. You start debating if 10 am is too early for a drink. (Just kidding!)
If you're like me, you may or may not sneak into the bathroom for a quick cry at this point. Then you come out and start fresh, one step at a time. But what can you do when it's like this day after day?
Turn on Netflix, or open your dvd cupboard, and find a movie or show that is reasonably educational. Park your kids in front of it for an hour or so. Magic Schoolbus? Bill Nye? I don't recommend this on a regular basis, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Dig out some cheese and crackers, juice, or whatever and feed each child so that they will not come looking for snacks five minutes from now.
Open all your windows, even if it's cold out. Find a place away from the kids where you are reasonably secluded. Take five minutes and write down everything that is bugging you. It feels great to get it off your chest.
Go back over the list and star the five things bugging you the most. Look at them carefully. Which ones are deep-rooted problems? Which ones are house related? Double-star the house related ones.
Now that you know what's bugging you the most, take the first house-related thing on your list and start doing it. I love the Flylady timer system for this. I set it for 15 minutes and I'm always astounded at what I can get done before it buzzes. While you're doing the mindless house stuff, think about what might change the deep-rooted problems that are bugging you. Don't stress out over it, just brainstorm as you scrub/fold/mop.
When the timer goes off, close all the windows and go get yourself a glass of water. Are you hungry? Grab a small, quick snack. Now go write down all the ideas you just had. Which one idea stands out to you as the most possible? Underline it.
Check on the kids. If nothing major is destroyed and everyone is still reasonably contented (bickering doesn't count - ignore this if they aren't punching each other), refill any food and drink, and go back to your timer. Set it for another 15 minutes and do something else on your list, or continue on the same task if you didn't get it done. I try for something that will make a visible difference on these days - for example, my kitchen junk drawer may be bugging me but folding Mount Washmore and putting it away would be more satisfactory to look at.
This time while you're working, start breaking down the "most possible" idea into small parts. You want to take it apart into small, manageable pieces. When the timer goes off, write it down.
For example, the problem you're working on may be that your kids fight you tooth and nail about every subject as the day progresses. You decide as you are scrubbing that they need more exercise because it always falls to the bottom of the to-do list. They also need to be more obedient. Maybe your steps could be something like: starting each day with a long walk all together (thereby also exercising the dog and letting him barf outside!), and also having them run laps in the back yard for 5 minutes, or play hopscotch, or play on the jungle gym, between each subject. Once this is established as a habit, any complaining or refusal to do the work at hand could result in 15 push-ups and a really nasty chore. Wouldn't schoolwork seem better to them after that?! Maybe all this exercise will also get your preschooler to nap after lunches, if you're extra lucky.
Anyway, you get the picture. Continue this sequence, pondering problems and crossing off house tasks, for as long as you can get away with before the kids appear to tell you the show is over. The trick is not to get distracted. Seems obvious but I have the attention span of a fruit fly, and if I'm not careful I will find myself answering the phone when my "bff" calls back, checking my email as I snack, emptying my bedroom closet out onto the bed while I'm putting laundry away, etc. You need to stay on task and by the end of it you should have at least a clean path through a room or two and some ideas for change.
Now get the kids dressed and go for a walk. Stop at a park. Let them play. Have everyone choose an object from outside that they'd like to draw and take it home. Get them all either drawing or sculpting their object out of homemade playdough (if you don't know how to make this, google it; it takes 5 minutes and lasts for ages). Sit down with the kids and just enjoy them. Order a pizza, or make grilled cheese sandwiches for supper.
Tomorrow will be waaay better now that you have a plan.