Toys are a hot topic with both parents and professional organizers. If you’re of those, you probably know having fewer toys is actually better for your children and it’s helpful for moms. It’s helpful to set criteria for keeping toys and purging toys. But purging toys is easier said than done. Sometimes you have really worthwhile toys that you’d like to keep, but you also know it’s just too much. That’s where toy rotation comes in.
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What is toy rotation?
Toy rotation is a nice middle ground between keeping more toys than is absolutely necessary, but also not overwhelming your children with more toys than they can play with and maintain. Basically, toy rotation is keeping only a few toys out for children to play with and enjoy for a certain amount of time, and then rotating some toys out when you rotate other toys out. You are minimizing the number of toys your child has access to.
How many toys should a child have? It’s whatever works for your space and your child(ren). Here’s a guideline I like to use: if your children can’t mostly clean their play space on their own, they probably have too many toys. Try to reduce the number until they can clean up.
What do I need to set up a toy rotation system?
You don’t need any special materials to rotate toys, however, if you’d like your system to be seamless and simple, I suggest having a matching set bins. It might cost a little money if you have to buy new materials, but it will be worth it (and sell the old stuff to make some money back).
Here’s what you’ll need:
· Matching storage containers. I like these.
· Toy storage shelf, this is what we have.
· Empty closet, shelf, or corner of the basement
· Labeling supplies
You’ll want one storage container for each toy category. After our big purge, two sets of these bins (20) were enough for my three children’s toys. And if you’ve got a cube shelf, these fit perfectly inside.
How do I do it?
Contain & Label the Toys
Put each set of toys into a container. Have kids help—mine love this part. Label the container with words or pictures if your kids can’t read. Show kids the label. Explain to children (and other adults in the house) that when they clean up, they’ll be putting each category of toys into its own matching container. My go-to label system is chalkboard tape and a white chalk marker, it’s super simple, inexpensive, removable, and cute. Here are some other labeling options.
Choose a Fraction to Keep Out
After the toys are binned and the bins are labeled, line all the bins up in the middle of the floor. Let your children pick about one-third (or another amount that works for you) of the bins to keep out to play with. Be sure to tell them you’re keeping all the toys, you’re just not keeping them OUT.
Put the bins you’re keeping out in the shelving system in your play area. Put the bins not in rotation away in the designated location. That’s all!
Our Toy Rotation System
We have a playroom right off our kitchen. Recently, we dedicated one wall of the playroom to be a homework station, so we cut down to a cube unit with 4 spots for toys. Those are our “in rotation” toys. The out of rotation toys are down in the basement in a larger cube shelf unit. As our children are getting older, we’ve allowed them to have access to all the toys, but the ones upstairs get used a lot more than the ones in the basement.
Toy Rotation Schedule
You can decide whether to rotate the toys in and out on a schedule, like the first of every month, or whenever the kids ask, assuming they are choosing something to go OUT of rotation when something else comes IN. Involve your children in this decision if you’d like. Or, if you’re like me and don’t need another thing to keep track of, just try to pay attention. Fighting over a toy, saying, “I’m bored” or not cleaning up their play space, is a sign that you should rotate things. Involve your kids or wait until they’re gone or sleeping and surprise them with a “new” space.
As your children outgrow entire boxes of toys, you can put them right into storage for future children or future grandchildren or you can donate the bin and fill it up with a new toy come Christmas or birthdays.
We’ve been using this system in our house for years. Cleaning up is so much simpler, it keeps them from being overstimulated, and it renews interest in the same old toys.
Setting Up Your Toy Rotation System
Toy rotation has so many benefits for both kids and parents, but it does take a little work to set it up so it’s easy and effective.
Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!