Toy Rotation, Made Easy

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Toys are a hot topic with both parents and professional organizers. You probably know having fewer toys is actually better for your children and it’s helpful for moms. 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 can be helpful.

Implementing a Toy Rotation System

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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.

Toy Rotation Made Simple. How to rotate toys in and out of use to help your kids focus and learn to take care of their spaces.
A matching set of bins that are clearly labeled are not totally necessary for toy rotation to work, but it is nicer to look at!

Setting 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:

That’s it.

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.

Toy Rotation Materials

How do I do it?

The ease you’ll experience in setting up a toy rotation system will vary based on how many toys (and kids) you currently have, as well as the state of your toys.

If you’ve got some organization going, it shouldn’t be difficult to transition. If your toys are chaos, expect to take a few hours creating a system.

Step 1: Contain & Label 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 and explain 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.

Step 2: Pick What Stays Out

Toy Rotation - Toys in-use
These toys are “in rotation.”

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.

The toys “in rotation” stay out in your everyday play area.

Move the toys that are “out of rotation” into your designated storage space.

Step 3: Create a Toy Rotation Schedule (or don’t)

Consider creating a schedule for rotating your toys, especially at first.

Once a week, every other week, or once per month, are all great options.

Write this on your calendar or to do list until it becomes routine.

If creating a schedule sounds too restrictive and you don’t want another “thing” to keep track of, just pay attention.

Signs its Time to Rotate Toys

  • Fighting over toys
  • Not cleaning up when asked
  • Boredom

When you notice this happening, either involve your kids or wait until they’re gone or sleeping and surprise them with a “new” space.

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.

Outgrown Toys

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 takes a little work to set it up so it’s easy and effective.

Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Let's talk toy rotation. Why should you do it? How will it help your kids? How will it help you? We've got the answers to all your questions!

Melissa, home organization expert

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