Some people claim that you cannot start too young with teaching children to pick up their toys. Others support a freedom from responsibility, i.e. the kids can simply play and then leave the toys out. I tend to lean more towards the former position. As soon as your children can walk (or even crawl), you can begin showing them how to put their toys away. As they get older, instructing them in how to hang up their own coat, put away their own shoes, and clean up when they're done playing is useful to both of you. While you must succumb to a bit of disorganization when raising children, you needn't allow your home become a pigsty because you can't physically clean everything up or do not have sufficient means for hiring a cleaner. You may wonder how it is possible to keep your house clean. I know it's like trying to keep the kitchen free of dirty dishes, but it is possible.
Step Two: Organize. "A place for every thing, and every thing in its place." This phrase is indispensable in a large household (or any household for that matter.) Create a toy closet with shelves and buckets or boxes for separation of various toys. Use empty cardboard boxes to create dividers for large shelves. Label all the boxes or buckets so that your children know what goes where. Try to keep the toys in one or two central locations. This will diminish the clutter throughout your home and create an easier method for choosing something to play when your children whine about having nothing to do.
Step Three: Ground Rules. As your kids get older, you can set a few rules for playing with their toys. A favorite one of mine (from my mother) is this: Whatever you are currently playing with must be put away properly before another toy is taken out. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule such as leaving out the Playmobil set or the doll house. In general, however, it is a good idea to limit the number of toys allowed out at a time. By doing so, you more firmly establish the "clean up after yourself when you are finished" mantra. Other rules may include asking permission before getting out certain toys or the loss of toy privileges as punishment.
Step Five: Be patient. Discovering the best organizational methods for your family may take a large amount of time. Be open to suggestion and variation from your kids. Ask the older kids whether they have ideas for the toy situation. Work together as a family to find the best fit for you all, one that keeps the house clean (and, therefore, your nerves a bit more intact) and also one that allows your children to be kids while teaching them skills for life.
Above all, remember that being able to clean up after themselves is extremely important. Unless you are fabulously wealthy, chances are they'll have to clean their own home one day. At that time, the guys will be grateful for clean habits when they try to impress their girlfriend. The girls will be grateful for a pleasant atmosphere when returning home from a stressful day at work. All your children will benefit from the "hardship" of responsibility for their toys and personal belongings.