Does your child seem bored even though you have a playroom full of incredible toys? Despite having more toys, kids find themselves bored, which encourages bad behavior. That’s where toy rotation saves the day.
I can’t tell you how often I hear friends say that their child has so many toys but never plays with them. They’re baffled – what’s happening?
Your child has too many choices; it’s like analysis paralysis for kids. Imagine having ten good decisions in front of you – how do you decide which one? It’s hard, and you might bounce from place to place instead of enjoying the one thing.
Too many toys are a problem for kids.
We want our kids to have toys; play is educational and helps your child develop appropriately. Chances are you want to see your child thoroughly enjoy their new puzzles or blocks rather than toss them to the side.
The answer is toy rotation. If you’re ready to get started, here is everything you need to know.
What is a Toy Rotation?
Toy rotation is a simple solution to the problem of a child having too many toys. When a child has too many toys, they feel overwhelmed by all their amazing choices, so they pick nothing.
Not to mention, they might not be able to find what they want with dozens of options around them.
A toy rotation is simple. You simply rotate the toys that are out and available for your child to play with throughout the day. It divides their toys into smaller, more manageable amounts, and you switch them out regularly.
What are the Benefits of Rotating Toys?
When I first heard of rotating toys, my first thought was that it would be more work for me. I had to collect the toys, store them, and bring more out.
So, why would I put effort into that when, let’s face it, we always have a thousand other things to do?
It turns out that toy rotation has several benefits that I knew would benefit my family.
1. Reduces Clutter
The fewer toys you have out, the less clutter you have in your house. That means less mess, and things won’t get jumbled up as much. In addition, your children find their toys much easier when they don’t have piles to dig through whenever they want their favorite doll.
2. Makes It Easier for Your Child to Tidy Up
Teaching your children to clean and tidy up their messes is an important habit and skill, but let’s be honest, even adults find it frustrating and daunting to clean a room full of a huge mess.
That’s why reducing the number of toys your child has truly helps.
It’s much easier to clean up fewer toys that all have a home. Another essential aspect of rotating your child’s toys is that they need homes like bins, rope baskets, or a toy box! Set your child up for success.
3. Helps Your Child Focus More
When you’re in a chaotic environment, do you struggle to focus? Instead, your brain focuses on the things around you, and your child is the same way.
Messes are chaotic and unsettling. Kids find it hard to focus on their play when it’s crazy around them.
When you start rotating toys, you’ll notice that your children stop bouncing around from toy to toy, confused and stressed by all the choices. Instead, your child will find himself enjoying his toys for much longer.
4. Develops a Heightened Sense of Creativity
When we reduced our toys and started a rotation, I noticed my kids became more creative with their toys. They created more games and imaginative situations, and toys became repurposed in different ways.
How Do You Decide Which Toys to Rotate?
The first thing to know is that there is no right or wrong way to rotate toys. It’s not a science or an art; if you rotate toys, it’s a good thing no matter how you do it. Your rotation might be as simple as dividing their toys in half and trading out every two or three weeks.
You also can come up with a more advanced rotation.
For example, you could rotate out the different types of vehicles your child has. One week, you might have boats, and the next could be cars. Rotate the various art supplies your child has available.
Should You Rotate Bigger Toys?
If your child has a kitchen or a farm, you might wonder if you need to rotate those. While every family is different, large open-ended toys rarely need to be rotated.
These larger toys also can be used in several ways. For example, kids rarely play with toys like the real world, so they have no problems playing with their dinosaurs in a dollhouse. That might be a fun game for them!
How To Get Started Rotating Your Child’s Toys
Once you decide that you want to rotate toys, it’s time to get started. Of course, you have to put a bit of work into it at first, but once you have the system down, it’s a lot easier!
Here are the steps to starting rotating toys.
1. Take Inventory of What You Have
The first step is to figure out what toys your child has. That can be easier said than done if you have a lot of toys!
You can make a list or separate it into piles based on what they are. That lets you see what you have and decide how you want to rotate the toys.
I suggest, when organizing, that you pair like with like. Here are some examples:
- Arts & craft supplies
- Building toys – Legos, fort builders, blocks, etc.
- Domestic play – kitchen items, tools, etc.
- Make-believe – dress up, costumes
- Games and puzzles
- Moving toys – cars, ride-on toys
- Emotional toys – dolls, dollhouse, stuffed animals, etc.
2. Reduce Toys if You Have Too Many
If you feel like your child has too many toys, then you might need to do a purge. Kids get upset when toys are removed, even if they haven’t played with those toys in months. So, depending on how old your little one is, you may want to ask them if they are done with an item before removing anything.
First, I look for toys that have missing or broken pieces. And I remove any duplicate toys. If my kids have aged beyond a toy, then it’s generally safe to remove those as well, but I do still ask for their permission. That is very important! Don’t give away or donate a toy your kids play with without your child’s permission.
Set these toys aside to donate or store for your future babies.
3. Decide Which Toys to Rotate
Once you know all the toys you have and sort them into categories or piles, pick out the toys you want to put out for the first rotation.
It takes time to find the right amount of toys and activities that need to be out for your child. Having a balance of toys and activities that focus on different developmental skills is key.
For example, one week, you might keep some gross motor toys like a tunnel with balls and stepping stones. The following week, you might switch to fine motor skills like nesting blocks and a shape sorter.
4. Put The Toys on Display
Something I learned is that kids love when their toys are put on display. It encourages them to take the toys out and play with them.
We use cube shelves with and without the cubes. On the shelves without the cubes, I might have trays or baskets with toys for them to explore and play with. It makes it much more enticing to play with the toys when they’re easily accessible.
5. Store The Toys Not in Use
Finally, you have to store the toys that aren’t in use. I prefer large, plastic bins by Sterilite or Rubbermaid, but use whatever you have available or want to use! I find that labeling the bins makes it much easier when I bring toys back into rotation.
I don’t suggest grouping toys all together for each week. Ideally, you don’t want the same toys every time you pull out the rotation. Having a different mix of toys gives your child the opportunity to be more creative.
FAQs about Toy Rotation
What Age Should You Start Doing Toy Rotation?
It’s best to start rotating toys early to familiarize your child with them and understand the process. Start as early as six months or whenever you notice your child gravitating towards toys more.
How Many Toys Do You Need for a Toy Rotation?
An average child plays with less than 20% of their toys daily, so you don’t need any particular amount of toys to start a rotation.
What you should consider is rotating toys for each child and variety. For example, your child won’t want to have all vehicles one week or toy blocks the next. A variety of toys is the best place to start. That means you might only need a few things like blocks, some cars, animal figurines, and a train set.
All you need is a manageable amount of toys to get started. Trust me, even if your child only has ten toys, they probably don’t play with them daily. Try a daily rotation even if you don’t have an overwhelming amount of toys for your child.
If you have holiday-themed toys, make sure to put those away when the season is over. They’ll be much more excited if you bring it out every year than if you leave it out to get lost and forgotten.
How Often Should I Do a Toy Rotation?
Once again, how often you should rotate toys is a family decision. Some families want to rotate their toys weekly, but others rotate every two weeks. Some rotate on a daily basis.
The only “rule” is that you need to leave toys out for long enough that your child can play and explore the toys fully but not so long that they get bored with those toys. I find that once a week is a reasonable length of time, but some toys need to stay out longer.
Watch your children while they play and make judgment calls from there!
Where Do You Put The Toys You’re Rotating?
Parents often wonder where they should put the toys they’re rotating out each week or month. You don’t want the toys visible to your child because they’ll end up trying to take them out of the storage and play with them.
Your goal is out of sight and out of mind.
If you have a basement or garage, large plastic storage totes will work great. If you don’t have those, consider the flat plastic storage totes with lids that slide under your bed or on the floor of your closet. Totes fit on top of your closet as well.
Does Toy Rotation Work for Older Kids?
Absolutely! All kids face the same feelings about too many toys and the chaos it creates for them. Most kids feel like they can’t decide what they want to play with when overwhelmed with options. Setting up a rotation of toys for an older child is a great idea and gives old toys a new life.
Older kids are capable of even more creative play. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way your child uses their toys.
How Often Should You Rotate Toddler Toys?
The toddler toys’ rotation is no different from rotating toys for babies, preschoolers, and older kids. It’s recommended that you rotate toys no more than once per week, but you might decide to rotate every two to three weeks to give your kids more time to enjoy all of their toys.
That’s especially true if your toy rotation is larger.
Toddlers still have short attention spans compared to preschoolers. They’ll move through their toys faster than preschoolers, who are capable of more extended creative play.
Start Rotating Those Toys!
Try toy rotation for a few months to see if you and your little one reap the benefits. Chances are you notice that your child focuses more on their toys and plays with more of their toys than ever before. Toy rotation is a win-win for everyone in your family.
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