I know, for a project like this I really should have been taking before and after pictures, but to be honest I don't want to be reminded of how it used to be!
So far I've done Step One (clothes) and Two (books) for me, Daniel, and Tristan, and got a good start with Catie. (Jake's a big boy, he can handle his own stuff.) The older kids have had input on what to get rid of and what to keep, and I only overruled when they were trying to keep outgrown items. The boys are currently sharing a room, and the bulk of the mess was books and clothes - we tackled that room entirely, and it's been almost completely tidy and vacuum ready ever since!
I was stunned to see how much STUFF we got rid of. The first few boxes of books, I took to a resale shop, but frankly they didn't do well there, so the later rounds of everything ended up at the thrift store. Thank goodness for my mom - she's been helping with the purge, and hauled away at least two car loads so far for me!
In practical ways, this is going really well - I no longer have an overflowing bookcase of my own, and the kids actually need bookends. (Remember bookends? They're for people who don't have stuffed bookcases!) We were able to have Tristan's third birthday party (no big thing, just some family) and getting everything clean and party ready was much easier with less stuff around.
I've done a bit of Step Three (papers) and I did a run through Tristan's toys, since he doesn't have much storage space - that was a Hefty bag all on it's own! So a few days ago, I looked around and thought the upstairs could use a vacuuming. AND I DID IT. Because everything was already picked up and out of the way! I vacuumed the living room, dining room, and two bedrooms in about 10 - 15 minutes, and sighed with relief.
Downstairs... that's another story. That's Catie's room, the family room, the laundry room, utility room, and the under-construction new bedroom. Like I said, we got a start on Catie's room, and her closet looks great. The rest of the room still needs a LOT of work. Even though (hopefully) that won't be her room much longer, it still needs to be arranged better so she can be comfortable and enjoy her space. Thankfully, with the initial purge, we may actually be able to eliminate a few pieces of furniture. A small bookcase nightstand is looking unneeded, there's a futon in there that's going to a relatives house, and a 4 story Barbie-sized wood dollhouse that will go into storage until we find out if the new baby is a boy or a girl. Then we're going to move her bed into a better spot, move her desk to a spot that will make it easier for her to use, and shift the dresser and bookcase to logical places.
Then I have to purge and organize the kitchen, laundry room, bathrooms, linen closet, family room, storage closets... sigh. The important thing is to focus on the progress being made, and not the work ahead. All I know for sure is with every bag and box we haul out of here, I feel lighter and better.