Did you notice in the post about my boys room that there was no toy organizer? No giant shelf to put all the crappy toys in? Because after the Great Toy Confiscation of 2012, I never went back.
I took all their toys away and put them in plastic bags and they just didn't seem to care. And I realized that they just don't need that many toys. So did I get rid of them all? Nope. They stayed tied up in their huge black garbage bags for about a month. It took that long for me to be prepared to really face getting rid of them.
So I took those garbage bags and sorted. Without my kids around, cuz you know every broken toy they've never shown the least interest in is suddenly their favorite if you want to get rid of it. I sorted out the stuff they never play with or the toys that drive me crazy. It was hard, cuz I have the toys I like, you know, which they may not care that much about. I weeded out about half of the toys. Then I had to run them by my husband, because he really hates getting rid of stuff, and he wanted to verify that I wasn't throwing too many memories away. Even so, I know he thinks I am cold-hearted because I don't get sentimental about stuff the way he does.
I got rid of the throw aways and put the rest in tubs and left those in my room for another month.
The beauty of this process is that getting rid of toys doesn't have to mean Getting Rid of ALl Your Kid's Toys. You don't have to get rid of anything. Just take them out of the picture for a little while. Or a long while. As long as you want. If you can't bring yourself to get rid of your kid's toys, then don't. Just hide them in the garage for a couple of months and then see how you feel about it.
I finally paired it all down to two tubs. One tub with toys that they just don't play with much, but I couldn't quite bring myself to get rid of, and I stuck them in the attic. The other tub would be their very favorites, but after a couple months of no toys, with them never asking for one of them, it was a little hard to decide. That tub gets shut away someone they can't get to, but is really easy to pull out whenever we want. Most of the time it just stays in their closet.
So now it is several months later, and I haven't looked back. I LOVE not picking up toys. My house is cleaner, their is more peace. A few toys have managed to surface over time and they are just kept in a drawer in the living room where they can get to whenever they want. And they still pull those out and leave them on the floor, but there just aren't that many, so it isn't a big deal.
I wish I could tell you that my children have a greater appreciation for what they have, and are more grateful for what I give them, and more respectful of our things, but none of those things is true. I think that all required more wisdom and skill as a mother than I possess. There really is no discernible difference in my children now, and my children when they were wading through toys up to their ankles. So if there is no difference, what the heck did I buy all those toys for?
The real difference is me. There are no more toys to make me crazy. The messes are always manageable so telling my kids to pick up their toys doesn't overwhelm them.