The thing that really struck me was the toys and books. So far, that was the thing I was able to start with and see the change. I put 2 grocery plastic bags full of books in storage--I eventually plan to probably both downsize the collection some more and get them a (small) plastic tub. Since I narrowed down the available book choices to about 20 (was supposed to be 15, 5 per kid) books plus their small collection of magazines (about 10-15 wildlife magazines mostly) they *all* read so much more! (before, they rarely got out books unless I initiated, now *they* bring me books a couple times a day and my oldest is finding and reading books!)
Before, it was a jumbled mess and they couldn't easily find their books.
my plan is to switch out some every so often, probably not all 20 at once, just the ones I don't see being read maybe? (might be a good way to further downsize the collection too.
And since i have downsized and organized the toys, they actually go in and play. (I think I said in the OP what I got rid of.) I made sure to leave in things like blankets to use, make forts, etc. and ADDED a few washable art supplies--with 3 kids 5 and under, I limited this to erasable colored pencils, washable crayons, pencils, erasers, a sharpener, and paper. Other art supplies still need more supervision or only come out when baby's asleep. (that's all in the book, suggestions on what to take out and actually ideas on things to *add.*)
we actually don't have many board games at this point, they are 5 and 3 and 1 and I find it frustrating really to even try it. (we used to have candyland...)
I've often thought it would be really fun to have a local lending library for stuff like board games and puzzles, but I've never really come up with a plan for how to get the money to start and to replace items with lost/broken pieces. Really...I mean, how many times do they want to put together the same puzzle? (OK initally, a lot, but after awhile...) Does anyone play more than a few board games in a week or so time frame?
Eventually you get bored with one, play something else, and it's eventually fun to come back to an old favorite again. but with a SERIOUS lack of storage space, I've really thought it would be fun to lend them around when not in use so *I* don't have to store them....
The thing I am trying now is the meal planning and menu use. I just did a big grocery-shop (all but the fresh stuff basically) of ingredients for many favorite meals for the month. My plan is to come up with a 'theme' for each day of the week and then 4-5 things that fit that category, so that I have meals for the month and not too much repetition. (with the exception of having tacos and chicken enchiladas rotate Tuesdays--also cheap restaurant day, so that is the day likely to have takeout sometimes. and I'll occasionally do chicken fajitas and tacos--dh and I like chicken fajitas, nobody else really does. And Chinese and pizza might rotate a 'fun day' because you can have plenty of different toppings and I'll rotate between doing just a big fried rice thing that they love and stir-fry) Those are the 4 major favorite things I think so they'll show up a little more than once a month.