I think my kids understand me a little better now. I have made myself more clear. Several weeks ago while Daddy was out of town, is when it happened. Over time we had become discouraged - actually down right irritated is a better word - with the level of care that our children use with their belongings. They are so rough on toys and things seem to break easily. I had been working hard to talk to them about how we use things the way they were meant to be used instead of using our creative minds to find new and destructive ways to play. Well, this particular day I guess I was already a bit high strung because when I saw another broken toy I put a stop to it. I told each of the kids they could have their blanket and pick one toy to keep. The others would all be gone when they woke up the next morning.
Of course when you say those things, you have to mean it or you will never be able to threaten any action again. Prior to bedtime, I had them remove all of the toys, games, etc from their rooms. I stayed up most of the night and cleaned out the play room. Some stuff went to the garbage can, some stuff went to Goodwill and the rest went to our closet and other hiding places throughout the house. It was exhausting but worth the effort. Here is what their playroom looked like when they woke up.
The toys that I saved returned to the playroom last week and it was like Christmas. They were so excited to see all of the things they had been missing and wanted so badly to use during playtime. I haven't found a broken toy yet. I can always remind them of this time without toys. It's good for them!