I’ve been on the topic of toys for a few weeks now. First, we talked about why having fewer toys is actually better for your children. Next, we discussed how to set criteria for keeping toys, how to purge toys, and how to organize what you’re hanging on to. Today, we’re talking about toy rotation.
What is toy rotation?
Toy rotation is a nice middle ground between keeping more toys than are 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 at any given time.
There is no magic number of toys to keep out, 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?
No special materials are needed to rotate toys, however if you’d like your system to be seamless and simple, I do suggest buying new, matching bins. It might cost a little money 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?
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 dads) 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. Custom vinyl labels are anoter fun labeling option—but that’s more time consuming and expensive and we’re keeping it simple here. Here are fun other labeling options.
After the toys are binned and the bins are labelled, line all the bins up in the middle of the floor. Let your children pick about one-third (or another portion that works for you) of the bins to keep out to play with. Be sure to tell them that 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!
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.
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 and 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.
I highly recommend toy rotation. 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.
Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!
**Disclosure: This post contains links. Some are affiliate, some are not. If you make a purchase through them I may earn a small commission. I link these companies and their products because of their quality and use, not because of the commission I may or may not receive.