Let's face it. Your wife's idea of clean is much different from yours. If you are a stay at home dad like I am, in my opinion things are probably not as clean as your wife would want them to be. Now, I know that there are exceptions to the rule. There are probably guys out there saying "No way! Mr. Clean and I are tight!" Personally, I am the only bald guy doing any cleaning in this house and while I am trying to be more proactive about things like dusting sometimes wrestling those giant dust bunnies isn't high on my priority list. It's not enough to take care of the kids and keep them alive; the house needs attention too.
Don't get me wrong, it bothers me when the house is dirty. I despise cleaning the bathrooms. If you clean up after kids in bathrooms you know what I am talking about. It's not just my son's inability to appropriately pee in an elongated bowl giving him ample surface area in which to operate. My daughter is just as bad with leaving a pee trail behind. Sometimes I get down there to clean the bowl and think "Holy crap! What happened in here?" I still consider it a triumph in my stay at home dad portfolio to know I taught my kids to wipe their own asses even if the job they do sometimes isn't all that thorough.
I don't want you to misunderstand either, my house is not as bad as a college friend I once knew. He literally had roaches in his dorm and dorm rooms are not big. He probably could have cleaned the entire thing with a Wet Nap. Going into his room was like visiting Joe's Apartment. I was afraid to go in there and definitely would NEVER sit on his beanbag chair. I suspect that the queen lived somewhere in there and was not about to find out the hard way. Come to think of it, I am not that sure what ACTUALLY filled his beanbag chair.
I used to ask him why he had bugs in his room and he just shrugged. I knew however that he regularly had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches laying about in what he called "strategic locations". My kids can sometimes be like that; sometimes I give the two year old an apple and assume that she has eaten it core and all only to find it hours later between the couch cushions, on a bookshelf, or in the laundry basket.
It's hard because after a day of dealing with the kids making the mess you actually have to clean up the mess. If you really want to impress your hard working wife you need to buckle down and do a clean sweep. Happy wife, happy life. Right? So, this is what I have started to do and it may work for you too.
1) If your kids can pull out toys they can also put away toys. Granted, their idea of putting something away is never going to fit in your color coded bins with separated toys by category but you need to get them involved. If you are freaked out at the thought that Barbies are mingling with Ninjago Legos then wait until the kids have helped clean up before you re-clean. Getting the kids involved gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility.
2) Rotate your chores. Find the things that you really despise doing and set aside one day for each thing to focus on. Granted, I feel like I am constantly washing dishes and laundry in between cleaning up cat puke but by breaking down cleaning duties you are much less likely to blow them off. I usually tackle bathrooms first because they are my nemesis. Once they are out of the way, the rest is easy and you won't feel so overwhelmed.
3) Look high and low, real low. It's amazing the things that you will see when you are experience what your kids are seeing. At their level I notice the crumbs more. In my defense, being 6'7" and having poor eyesight has contributed but it's mostly because of procrastination. As a friend of mine once said "Procrastination is like masturbation, you are only screwing yourself. Like a rookie cop, check your corners. Cobwebs build up in the damnedest places.
4) Each kid is generating a certain amount of filth. Their is a direct correlation between their age and the amount of snack crap they are producing. Take their age in to account to determine how on top of the cleaning you need to be. Multiple kids means multiple messes. The more kids you have in your house, the more concentrated your contamination is going to be. A good indicator of this level is the state of your backseat, minivan, or underneath your car seats. Untold treasures await you.