Is your home overrun with toys? It’s time to start thinking about a toy rotation. Here is how to start a toy rotation and how to evolve it for years to come.
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My son was only a year old when I found myself looking around and thinking “where did all of these toys come from?”.
I am sure some of you can relate.
We don’t feel like our kids have the mounds of toys they do until we really take a look around.
I was noticing that many of the toys we had for my son were so deep in a toy box, they were never even noticed.
I was always intrigued by toy rotations, my mother-in-law told me about when she had 3 young boys only a few years apart.
Toy rotation was life-saving!
1. Want all of the toys you spent good money on to actually be played with.
2. Are tired of your child[ren] dragging out each and every toy they have in seconds just to have to take 3 hours to reorganize later.
3. Are looking for an easier way to store your kid’s toys.
…then you should absolutely start a toy rotation!
What Are Toy Rotations?
The basics idea of toy rotation is that toys are separated and grouped fairly evenly.
Only one set of toys is available for your kids at a time.
Toy sets are then rotated on a schedule.
Toy rotations do not have to be complex.
And your toy rotation will probably look different than another family’s.
There are no hard and fast rules, this system is 100% customizable.
Toy rotation works well for all ages, infant and up!
How many of us need our own version of “Toy Rotation”?
My decor to wall space ratio will always be off!
I have a problem.
I know. ?
Benefits of Toy Rotation
Our son loves our toy rotation system, he gets so excited to see all of his fresh toys.
He enjoys playing with each of his toys more than when he had over 4x as many to choose from at any given time.
We love it too!
First off, clean up is SO much easier!
Not to mention the gorgeous lack of clutter.
I love that by pairing down his choices he is able to deepen his play.
He is free to find new ways to play with his toys and is able to focus.
Clutter does not just affect us, mamas!
Disorganization and clutter can make our kids stress and feel overwhelmed too.
Clearing up that physical clutter for them can help them to regulate their own mental clutter.
Your child may even sleep better!
By being able to engage their minds more thoroughly, they can better rest at night.
How to Start a Toy Rotation
1. Get all of the toys together in one place.
It may be tempting to just sort as you go throughout your house…
But this first step might just be the most important step in setting up a toy system that works.
You need to see all of the toys.
All of the toys at once.
Not only will this provide a fantastic reminder of why you need a serious toy system overhaul, but it will also make you able to really see what you have.
2. Declutter as You Group Into Categories
The second step of setting up a toy rotation is to organize all of the toys in your house.
I know it sounds a bit daunting, but bear with me, it’s totally doable.
Go through the toys in your home and separate into 5 categories: Get Rid Of, Art, Thinking, Moving, and Pretend.
The Get Rid Of Toys
These are the toys that are no longer in good shape, are duplicates, your kids have outgrown, or are toys your children just don’t like.
Depending on the condition of the toy you can sell it, donate, or simply throw it away.
The Art Toys
These are things like crayons, markers, coloring books, crafty things!
The Thinking Toys
These are the things in your toy rotation that encourage thinking and problem-solving.
Toys like this include puzzles, stacking toys, interactive toys, and musical toys.
The Moving Toys
Not only toys that move themselves (balls, cars, etc.), but also toys that get your kiddo moving (jump ropes, tennis rackets, etc.)!
The Pretending Toys
These are the toys that really help your child dive into imagination. Things like dress-up clothes, dolls, and stuffed animals are examples of pretending toys.
3. Creating Toy Sets
Once you have these toys sorted out it is now time to put them into sets.
The goal is to have the about the same from each category in each set.
How many sets and how many toys are included is completely up to you!
In our family, we set up a weekly toy rotation with four sets of toys.
Once a week, we choose Monday, we switch out all of the accessible toys with the “new set”.
You can really set up a toy rotation any way you see fit.
Some families, like my mother-in-law, choose daily rotations.
Others prefer every couple of weeks.
There is no right answer, try things out to see what you like best.
There is definitely no law stating that once you have a toy rotation in place you can never change it again.
The Perfect Way to Keep it All Straight
You can download this free Toy Rotation Inventory sheet to keep each set of toys easy to find, easy to store, and easy to integrate.
To access this Toy Rotation Inventory sheet simply enter your information below and you will receive access to the My Homemaking Resource Library.
This library contains not only this free printable, but many others that will help you make the most of your homemaking life!
4. Store the Rest
Now that you have your sets of toys, you will need a game plan on how you will store the sets not currently in use.
Remember, you will only ever have one set of toys out at a time.
The sets should be stored in a place that is easily accessible for you and out of sight of your kids.
You don’t need to hide them necessarily… unless, ya know, you do.
You know your kids better than I do!
We put our toy sets in boring looking totes towards the back of our son’s closet.
5. Display the Current Set
Make the current set exciting!
You want their little minds lighting up with imagination as soon as they see them.
As tempting as it may be, do not just put them in a bucket.
Each toy can still have a place of its own without having to be banished.
I think the best way to make toy rotation work is to keep the toys in a Montessori way.
This applies more to littles, but even older kids can benefit from this style.
A room designed with a Montessori mindset means that everything is easily accessible to your child.
Think low shelving and containers that make it easy for your children to see exactly what is available for playing with.
As well as easy to get what they choose to play with.
Centers are also a great option!
For example, having a construction center, a tea party center, and a drawing station.
Centers are great for keeping things organized without hindering imagination potential.
6. How To Introduce New Toys and Phase Out Older Ones
Alright, you have got your toy rotation all set up.
Does this mean your children will never have any new toys again?
Of course not!
(Even if you wish that is what it means.)
Just like there are several ways to create a toy rotation there are that many ways to keep it going.
Here are some ways you can keep your toy rotation evolving.
Keep in mind you don’t just have to use one of these ways.
Mix, match, and create the toy rotation that works for you.
- Addition to the Category- evaluate which category it fits into then find the set that might be lacking in that category.
- One In One Out Method- when a new toy comes into the house, a toy from the same category leaves the house.
- Weekly Evaluation- after bringing out a new set of toys in your rotation, evaluate each toy in the set again. Remove anything you think your child has outgrown or that can officially be labeled as broken.
- Mix it Up- toy rotation is a great way to keep toys feeling new and fresh to your children. After several rotations, if you feel the combinations are getting stale simply mix the toys from each set around a bit.
- For bigger influxes of toys (Christmas, birthdays, etc.) lay them all out like you did with all of the toys at the start, categorize and assign a set.
- Toy Minimalism is another way to keep your kid’s toys in check, there is a great article by SimpleQuietMama you can check out here!
Toy Rotation Exceptions
This is very important, do not feel like every toy needs to fit into this toy rotation mold.
Does your child have a favorite thing they play with each and every day?
You do not have to put it away for three weeks at a time!
For some families, books are the perfect things to put on rotation.
Books, like toys, can use some refreshing too.
Personally, in our family we love books.
We quite literally read at least a dozen books together a day.
So, we don’t put books in our rotation.
This doesn’t mean that one day we won’t include them in rotation.
But, right now keeping our books (even though there are probably way “too many” of them) accessible all of the time is what works for us.
We also decided to keep all of our son’s stuffed animals out.
He doesn’t have a ton of them, he plays with them well and often, and they are easily corralled.
So, we left those out of the rotation as well.
Our stuffed animals may be your blocks, or dolls, or cars.
Explaining the New System
Depending on your child you may need to prepare how you will explain the new toy system to them.
A common way to do this is to simply say some of their toys are “resting” or are “on vacation” and they will be back soon.
Another way to do it is to get them involved in the process.
Let them help to decide which toys should go with which.
No matter how you do it, make sure your child knows their toys were not taken away as a punishment or anything like that.
Some of your kids might not even specifically notice that some of their toys are gone, they just know they feel different when playing.
By creating a toy rotation schedule you can reclaim your house while also helping your child to reclaim their own playtime.
As I said about 1000 times already, but I do really mean it, keep it flexible and do what works for you.
A toy rotation system could be the exact thing you have been looking for.
It has worked so well for my family, and I truly hope it does the same for yours.