I have a hard, hard time dealing with toys, too.
I have been able to purge just about every group of things I call "mine": my hair, my computers, my motorcycles, my tools, my clothes, my books.
Once my wife got the bug, she started purging her stuff, too. That has been going well, and we work on it together.
One of the reasons I find toys difficult is that I'm making the decision for someone else. I know that, by getting rid of 1/2 of my books, I lose something (the opportunity to read that book at a moment's notice, the status symbol of books that define "me" to visitors) and gain something in return (space on the shelf, ease of managing my stuff, order in my home, money that I don't have to spend on more storage). I can decide if that trade-off is the right choice for me.
However, with the kids toys, I know that most of the gain is the parents' (for it is our feet that hurt when we step on a marble; we are the ones that separate the blocks, trains, wedgits, and legos) and most of the loss is kids' (they don't have access to a toy that they might enjoy).
What I remind myself of is how much the kids gain, too:
- Their parents are slightly less cranky.
- Their parents have more free time to spend with the kids, to cook nutritious meals, to take care of themselves so they can take care of the kids.
- Kids, too, like a clear, open space to engage in play.
- Clear, open spaces are particularly good for wrestling with Dad.
- Being able to clearly see a small number of toys works better than being surrounded by a plethora. It gives kids a chance to really focus their play in one area, and to not be overwhelmed when considering what play to do next.
- Kids play with non-toy things as often as toy things. Wooden spoons and sofa cushions are current favorites. Those items serve double-duty (yes, you can stir with a wooden spoon), thereby increasing their "density" in the home.
I've noticed recently that even the babies (16 months on Saturday) will often not think of playing with something until someone points it out to them. So, providing them with bucket upon bucket of toys won't really help them find fun. Having just 1 toy can meet their needs, if there's someone to help them get engaged.
In January I put a bunch of kids' toys in storage. It was a really good choice -- the kids haven't missed the toys, and life has been a bit easier since.