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How to Tackle Toy Clutter with Toy Rotation

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Are you overwhelmed with toy clutter? Are you knee deep in toys that go unused and unplayed with? If so, keep reading. 😉

After the initial excitement of a new toy is gone, that poor toy just gets thrown in a hardly-played-with pile. If this were a Toy Story movie, we’d cue the violins right about now.

I hardly had toys growing up, so when I had kids, I made sure they had the latest and greatest toys. Of course, I didn’t shower them with a new toy every day but they’d get toys during random outings, birthdays, holidays, and from friends and family, so this all added up and led to an overwhelming collection of toys.

And as a parent, we just get immense joy from seeing sheer delight from our children when they get a new toy so the toy collection can get out of hand.

Rather than throwing or donating toys and then buying new toys, implement a toy rotation strategy.

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What is Toy Rotation?

Toy rotation is essentially separating toys into bins/containers/etc. And then you only allow your kids to play with one bin at a time. After a certain time period, you swap out that bin with another one.

When you do a toy rotation, your kids remain interested and more engaged with their old toys. They no longer have to complain that there’s nothing to do while staring a room full of toys. And they don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices.

Toy rotation makes them appreciate what they have, reignites their imagination, and fosters imaginative play!

And let’s not forget that toy rotation means less clutter leading to a more organized and happy home for everyone — especially mom!

How to Start a Toy Rotation

Step #1: Declutter

First, go through your collection and throw away broken toys so you can get a good idea of what you have to work with. There’s no need to keep that Barbie missing a few limbs or the Captain America action figure missing his lower half — yep, we have these toys. Donate duplicates and excessive ones of one type. For example, if your daughter has ten varying types of tan teddy bears she hasn’t touched in a while, give it away.

Step #2: Divide and Conquer

Now comes the hard part. Sort your remaining toys into groups:

Moving toys: Moving toys focus on gross motor movements, movements your child makes with arms, legs, feet, entire body. Etc. These toys are balls, cars, trucks, sports-related items, etc.

Pretending toys: Pretending toys focus on the social/emotional and language development. These toys include costumes, dolls, action figures, etc.

Thinking toys: Thinking toys focus on cognitive development and fine motor skills. They include puzzles, board games, and other educational-type toys.

If you wanted to, you could further divide them into the following categories:

  • Active play
  • Construction
  • Dress-up
  • Science
  • Math
  • Books
  • Music
  • Puzzles
  • Vehicles
  • Crafts

I sort mine to the first three main categories. I just don’t have the time or energy to get even more specific. But if you do, more power to ya!

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Step #3: a Storage System

Next, decide on your storage system for your divided toys. I am a big fan of clear plastic bins so I can easily see what’s in each one. Go ahead and inventory your home and use what you have available. Chances are you already have some storage bins you can use. If not, purchase some more.

Then in each bin, include at least one or more toys from each of the main three categories in step #2 (for each child). It’s hard to say “put exactly ten toys into each bin” because everyone’s situation and toy collection is different, so aim for an amount you think will suffice for your kids. I have three children, so I make sure each bin has an adequate amount for each kid. I was able to get ten rotation sets. You may get more or less.

Try not to overthink this part and do what you can. Don’t get into analysis paralysis because this will quickly undermine your efforts.

Step #4: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I keep the inactive sets in our storage area (on shelves) so my kids can thoroughly enjoy the collection they have now without being distracted by what they can’t play with yet.

Step #5: Toy Rotation Schedule

Some people rotate their bins on a weekly basis like clockwork. There’s no way I can keep on top of this.

Test it out for yourself and decide on a schedule that works for you. Some moms have great results with a 2-week rotation schedule, while some moms do it monthly.

Whatever you decide, I recommend getting your kids involved in packing up the current bin in preparation for a new bin. This keeps it fun and exciting for them and helps you in the process.

Bonus tip: If you know a fellow mom who is also doing a toy rotation, consider exchanging bins! Your kids will LOVE diving into the new collection!

Get Started

You don’t have to let toy clutter paralyze you. Set aside a weekend to tackle the toys and implement this system. And feel free to adjust as necessary.

You’ll come to find that your kids are more engaged with their toys and playtime, and they actually look forward to cleaning up in preparation for a new bin.

A proper toy rotation system is beneficial for kids and moms.

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