I can clean up my son’s play area or bedroom in less than 5 minutes. Yes, you read that right. Under 5 minutes. Start to finish. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? If you are overwhelmed with toy clutter, you are not alone! Spend an afternoon with moms for a play date or read in a social media family forum for a few minutes- the topic will always pop up! Spaces are being overrun with kid toys and clutter, and parents are constantly seeking ways to confine it! The good news is that it is possible to develop an easy to implement toy rotation system that will tame the mess and improve the value of your child’s play.
What is Toy Rotation?
Toy rotation is a no-cost way to increase novelty and interest when it comes to your kids and toys. It’s also a great way to organize toys for high-quality play. Children learn as they experience a new toy or play with an old toy in a new way. By creating a system where you rotate toys on a systematic basis, kids get exposure to a variety of toys more regularly. Changing out what toys they interact with creates more interest and less boredom. Follow these six steps and create a toy rotation system that will simplify your space, reduce your stress, and increase your child’s engagement!
Toy Rotation Steps
1. Gather Toys in One Place
Pull together all toys into one space, whether it’s the living room, playroom, or bedroom. In order to create a toy rotation, you need to see what types of toys you are working with and how many you have. If you become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff you have just collected, I recommend decluttering and organizing your children’s toys.
2. Get Rid of Low Hanging Fruit
Bring a trash bag to the toy rotation party and toss any toys that are broken, junky, or just not worth the energy to pass on to someone else. I’m looking at you, Happy Meal toys!
3. Organize Toys by Types
Place similar style or function toys together. Stuffed animals here, building toys there, books in this stack, and so on. Placing similar toys by types helps you see which toys you have by function. This way you can have a variety of toys represented in each rotation. If you notice there are a lot of a particular item, consider keeping the favorites and getting rid of the excess. This rule is great for things like Hotwheels, blocks, and games.
4. Sort into Toy Rotation Containers
Decide how many rotations you want to have and sort the toys accordingly. For instance, if you decide to have two rotations, place a puzzle, a stuffed animal or two, a couple of books, an electronic toy, blocks, etc. into each one. You’ve already sorted the toys by types, so this step goes pretty quickly. In our home, we use two big baskets to swap toys, which seems to work just fine. If you have more toys or would like smaller batches of toys to rotate, just add more containers.
Consider the type of container you’d like. If you want to be able to see what’s inside each bin, consider clear totes with lids. Opt for solid totes if they will be stored where your children might see them. If you’ll be storing containers where dirt or dust collects, consider purchasing totes with lids so that toys stay clean.
5. Toy Rotation Schedule
Decide how frequently you want to swap the toys out. I find that changing toys every two weeks works for our toddler. You might find swapping more frequently works better for your child. Some families rotate on a weekly or daily basis. A good sign it’s time to switch- when the luster of the toys begins to wane. When your kids start creating their own novelty by dragging out everything you own, rotate toys!
6. Consider the Timing of your Toy Rotation
It’s probably best not to pack up one set of toys and get out another when your children are around. Unless you like the cries of the overdramatic. Instead, opt for switching out containers during nap time or after the kiddos have gone to bed. Keep the containers that are not in use out of sight from little eyes. Consider tucking them away in a basement, garage, or closet space they don’t frequent.
Caveat- There are a couple of well-loved items that get a free pass in our house. Right now, these items are included in both rotations. I am fine with this because there is still room in the basket to store these items. If there is a favorite toy your child wouldn’t want to part with for a week or more, just keep it out instead of including it in the rotation. Additionally, we don’t rotate out the large toys that are difficult to move, such as his wooden workbench and slide. Remember, there are no hard or fast rules here. The goal is to simply reduce the number of toys available at any one time to build interest and novelty.
Benefits of Toy Rotation
Promotes Novelty and Decreases Boredom
Since your child won’t see the same toys all the time, he or she is more likely to engage with their toys on a deeper level. This is a sign of true play and is great for little, developing brains!
Reduces Clean Up Time
In my opinion, this might be the biggest benefit of toy rotation! It is so nice not to have to spend loads of time cleaning up after my kiddo! Less time picking up means more time spent on things that actually matter to me, like playing with him!
Too many options can be overwhelming. Ever notice how hard it is to narrow down a purchase as an adult when there are too many choices? I’ve stared at the varieties in the tea aisle at the grocery store longer than I’d like to admit! That same feeling of overwhelm can happen to kiddos when faced with the option of too many toys to play with. By reducing the variety provided at any one time, you reduce the chance of your kiddos being overwhelmed by options.
Give Toy Rotation a Try!
It can feel overwhelming to tackle something new. Creating a new system for toys is no different. However, following these six steps will give you a guide to the process. The time it will take to create this system will change based upon how many toys you have to sort, so don’t be discouraged if it seems to take longer than you’d expect. If you gather all the toys in one place and become completely overwhelmed, take a deep breath and begin analyzing what items you can declutter.
Change is a process. Every step toward your goal is a step in the right direction. So dig in, follow these steps, and know that a more restful- and less stressful- abode is waiting for you!