Not so long ago, I took most of my kids' toys away. Or, rather, they chose to sit by and watch me pack up their toys and haul them off to the closet, instead of picking their toys up. We came up with an agreement that they could earn toys back by picking up every evening. Each night, if they picked up their toys when they were told to, they could each earn back a toy.
It's now been a couple of months and their interest in earning back toys has been minimal. Our hall closet has about five garbage bags full of toys, waiting for my kids to reclaim them. And, anyone who's watched Toy Story 3 can understand the concern I have for the emotional welfare of those poor, discarded toys... But, days on end go by where either the incentive of getting a new toy isn't enough to get them to clean (and then everything left out gets packed back away) or they just have no interest in claiming a new toy.
The other night was yet another eye-opener on this toy-reclamation project. After they'd picked up their toys, my husband asked them if they wanted a toy back or a piece of chocolate as a reward. My son immediately chose the chocolate. My daughter initially chose a toy. But, after searching through four bags and rejecting everything, decided she'd rather have the chocolate also.
Where does that leave us now? Number One, I'm predicting a massive garage sale at our house sometime this summer. The kids have finally outgrown the stroller (sniff) and several of their young toddler ride-on toys. So, those, combined with the rejected toys are all going on the card tables (sorry, Squeakers). Number Two, I have come to realize how much happier and more creative my kids are, now that they're not bogged down by stuff. Nightly toy pick-up had been one of the major points of confrontation and frustration in our house -- and that's been almost entirely eliminated. I think it's safe to say that we intend to keep our scaled-back approach to things going. In fact, I'm planning on sorting through a lot of my own stuff and doing a major purge as long as I'm working on this garage sale...