Remember... 31 for 21
I will say, that this step that I'm about to describe may not work as well on younger kids... but then again, maybe we're selling our kids too short.
I was tired of them. I was tired of seeing them, I was tired of stepping on them, I was tired of hearing about how they were lost or broken and I was especially tired of cleaning them up. So I got rid of them: a huge chunk of my kids' toys.
They were causing problems - more than the obvious problems I just mentioned. They were feeding the monsters. I couldn't pull the boys away for school without an eyeroll and a whine because I was taking them away from their play time. I couldn't ask them to clean something up without them sporting a sense of injustice and complaining about how very hard the job would be. I began to believe my name was "but Mom!" and I wasn't happy, the kids weren't healthy, and I couldn't accomplish what needed to be done during the day without major battles. The whole vicous cycle was becoming ugly.
So one day I boxed lots of things up. I put them in the attic and even today if a whole bunch of stuff is left laying around I will just box it up and stick it away... and do you know what? The kids have barely even noticed.
We don't have a huge amount of toys to begin with, but we have plenty. My rule has always been that the toys need to be able to fit inside their closet - preferably on the upper shelf. As the kids have grown, and more birthdays and Christmases have passed, this rule has only been able to be followed by donating quite a sizeable stash to friends and church classrooms... and that's been perfectly fine with me.
But even the *small* amount we had was causing problems. So what do my kids do now? I still get complaints and eyerolls at times. I'd be lying if I said that all our bad attitudes were fixed, but it really has helped. Free time is filled with outside play, and at times they have actually been known to read, color, do puzzles, or draw. When I ask them to do school, they come a bit more willingly because it gives them something to occupy their time.
I will warn you that if you decide to do this you will need to find something to fill the void or they will do more wrestling, they will jump on the furniture or run around like crazy kids and drive. you. nuts. Not that I would know...
So I'm already scheming and thinking of non-toy gifts for some of our upcoming birthdays and Christmas. I think less toys just make for happier kids - and happier moms!