A toy rotation is simple: keeping some toys accessible, putting some toys away, and then switching them out periodically. It might sound like unnecessary work, but when you rotate toys, there are benefits for both parents and kids.
It Might be Time to Rotate Toys If…
- Your kids tell you they’re bored.
- The amount of toys overwhelms YOU.
- You can’t stay on top of the clutter.
- Your children can’t clean up when you ask them to.
- Your kids don’t play with toys very long.
- Toys aren’t well cared for.
- You’re craving a simpler space.
If you answered, “Yes!” to any of these questions, it might be time for you to try toy rotation!
9 Benefits of Toy Rotation
Here are 9 benefits of rotating toys:
- Simpler clean up
- Less visual clutter
- Reduce decision fatigue
- Richer play experiences
- New excitement for old toys
- Toys last longer
- Less materialism
- Longer play time
- Encourages kids to appreciate what they have
Intrigued? Keep reading for details & research behind each benefit.
1. Fewer Toys Out, Fewer Toys to Clean Up
One of the easiest arguments in favor of rotating toys is that having fewer toys out means there is less to pick up when it’s time to tidy.
When you have a ton of toys, the mess can be overwhelming after a big play session. You ask your kids to clean up and they whine at you — because it’s a big job and they probably don’t even know where to start.
Having fewer toys in a play space makes cleaning up so much easier to handle. This makes picking up easier for both you and your child.
It’s simple – fewer toys all over the floor means less time spent cleaning up.
2. Less Visual Clutter
A toy rotation means less visual clutter. This is especially important when toys are in a central living space, like the living room, where you can’t just close the door and walk away.
Everyone in the home can become overwhelmed by visual clutter, especially when you’re sitting down to relax.
Fewer toys out at once equals less visual clutter… for everyone!
3. Fewer Toy Decisions
If you, as a parent, feel overwhelmed by organizing, storing, and tidying toys, imagine how your child feels!
Having so many toys to choose from sounds like a “good problem” — certainly kids can’t be bored with so many options — but just the opposite is true.
Scientifically, young children do better with fewer choices. Their brains aren’t developed enough to handle so many options! Fewer toys mean less choice—they are spending less time and energy on decision fatigue.
Providing fewer options allows children to spend a longer amount of time actually playing.
4. Richer Play Experiences
Rotating toys provides children with a richer play experience. How? More meaningful play fosters more creativity.
Rotating toys provides a child with the space (physically and mentally) to create. When they only have a few toys, they find new and interesting ways to use those toys.
Play that fosters independence, cooperation, imagination, and creativity is a gift to a child.
There might be a part of you reading this thinking, why would I take away my kid’s toys? That sounds mean! but it’s not! It’s actually setting them up to have more fun.
5. New Excitement for Old Toys
We’re all guilty of impulse-buying new toys for our kids, but can we learn to savor the toys they’ve had for years? Yes! It’s possible to bring new excitement to old toys they haven’t seen in a while.
Kids often go through “favorite toy” phases. Superheroes, building, farm animals. They play with one type of toy, then tire of it.
This is okay and expected.
Instead of leaving the toys that aren’t getting as much play time on the shelf, pack them away for a bit. When you bring them back out in a month or two, your kids will be thrilled.
Side note: If you do this and they’re NOT thrilled, it’s probably time to let go of that toy. Here are a few great places where you can donate them.
However, we can curb this by rotating out toys. By tucking away a toy before they grow tired of it, we can save some of their enthusiasm for later, so to speak!
6. Toys Last Longer
When you rotate toys, kids aren’t playing with every toy they own every day. This makes the toys they have last longer. Less play means less wear. Rotating toys out, rather than having the same ones available daily, allows them to last for years. Constant handling or rough play daily means favorite toys will wear much quicker.
7. Less Materialism
Rotating toys allows children to become less materialistic. As parents and caregivers, we often have to steer kids away from becoming consumed by material things (toys!).
It’s natural for a child to look in a store or the toy aisle and want to take home or play with every single toy. But could you imagine an entire Target toy aisle dumped in a room of your home? No, thank you. Fewer toys allow children to become less materialistic.
8. Longer Playtime
Decreasing decision fatigue, offering fewer choices of toys, and being mindful of kids’ overwhelm leads to longer playtime. We can increase a child’s stamina for (independent) play with time and practice. Children can then definitely build up stamina for longer play with more meaningful play.
Are you seeing the pattern yet?!
Fewer toys = less overwhelm. Less overwhelm = more meaningful play. More meaningful play = richer play experiences. Richer play experiences = longer play! (And all the tired moms said AMEN!)
9. Encourages Kids to Value What They Have
As parents or caregivers, we want to teach kids to value the things that they have. We want to instill responsibility, stewardship, and pride in taking care of their things. By rotating toys, we present them with the opportunity to do so. Their toys are getting less everyday wear, which gives kids the chance to be excited about what they have.
I love seeing the look on my kids’ faces when I rotate back in a toy they haven’t seen in a while. They are perfectly content playing with the other toys they have. However, seeing their excitement for a familiar, but not recently played with toy always makes me smile. Their excitement leads them to take pride in their things – in playing with them and in taking care of them.
How to Rotate Toys
There are many ways to implement a toy rotation. It’s important to find a method that works for you, your home, and your kids. This may take some trial and error!
Start by storing some toys out of a child’s sight and reach (in a closet, a storage room, a plastic tub, etc). Keep out basics and a few favorites.
We keep out 1-2 building materials, animals (because my daughter always incorporates them into play), and some type of car toy for my son. We keep the larger toys out, like the kitchen, play table, and dress-up things (but rotate costumes and dresses).
There is no exact formula. Eventually, you’ll find what works best for you. I like to rotate toys once a week but have tried bi-weekly rotations as well.
Toy rotations may vary based on the child’s age, interests, and amount of toys. There are no hard and fast rules. Do what works for you!
Try Rotating Toys!
Rotating toys offers so many valuable, important benefits to both children and parents. Talk to your child. Reassure them you’re not getting rid of toys, just storing some away. Figure out what type of system works for you and go from there. It may take some trial and error, but soon you and your child(ren) can experience all the great outcomes of implementing a toy rotation!
Do you rotate toys in your home? I would love to hear about the system or routine that works for you in the comments below!