Today, we’re talking all about how to rotate kids toys so you can cut down on clutter, enjoy fast clean-up each day, and create an ideal play environment for your kids.
What is a toy rotation?
Just like how it sounds. Toy rotating is when you put out a set amount of toys for your kids to play with, store the rest, and then periodically swap them, storing what was out and bringing “fresh” toys from storage for your kids to enjoy.
What are the benefits of a toy rotation?
When looking at how to rotate kids toys, it’s important to know why it’s worth doing in the first place. There are lots of benefits, but here’s just a few:
A better play time
Scientific studies now show kids do better playing in a simplified environment. When we pare down the toy selection, kids are actually able to focus better and be more creative and less overwhelmed.
Better organization and faster clean-up time
Toys are much easier to keep organized when you have less of them to organize. Go figure! Plus, another big benefit is faster clean-up time at the end of the day. When I’m exhausted from chasing the kids all day, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour putting the living room back together. If you’re interested in how we organize toys in our living room, I did a post on that a little while back.
Not only do our kids do better with less toys, but we do better. When there’s less mess and clutter in a space, our minds are able to relax more and our stress level drops.
Which toys should I rotate?
You don’t have to get complicated when you’re jumping into how to rotate kids toys. I start with two general rules of thumb in our home:
Remove toys your kids don’t seem interested in anymore
If it’s something you’re confident they’re past and won’t be into again, go ahead and declutter it for good, but if it’s something they just seem uninterested in at the moment, pull it out to store for a while.
Remove toys you need a break from
You’re not a bad parent if you just really need a break from that colorful spinning wheel that sings the alphabet over and over again, or you need to put away the train set that has 200 different pieces. If you need a break from a toy because it’s annoying or it’s complicated to set up and clean up, you can remove it without guilt.
If you need to go all the way to decluttering, that’s fine (and let’s face it, some of those noisy toys just need to quietly disappear), but even just putting some of those toys away for awhile can help keep everyone in the family happier.
How often should I rotate toys?
When you read up on how to rotate kids toys, everyone will likely tell you a different amount of time, but for us with a 2-year-old and an almost-toddler, every 6-8 weeks is about right. If you’ve never done toy rotating before, you may think the actual act of rotating toys is stressful, but it’s actually not. Because of the limited amount of toys we have out, choosing what to pull out and what to put away takes me about ten minutes.
How many toys should be out at one time?
I’ve heard different numbers, anywhere from 8-12 toys and activities, and I’d say we hover around 10. I always keep a few additional little toy items for the baby to chew on, as well. To be honest, however, since I started working on how to rotate kids toys in our house, I’ve never actually counted. Toys are all different shapes and sizes and I just know what feels right in our living room.
More than counting the items, I try to keep the amount of toys pared down to what can be picked up in five minutes. I first heard this advice from The Minimal Mom (I don’t think she gave a specific amount of time, though, just the principle), and I think it’s genius. I’m exhausted at the end of the day, and knowing I don’t have to spend time cleaning up mountains of toys is so wonderful.
In addition, if you’re training a toddler to help clean up, you know they have the attention span of a mosquito. Thus, they can actually help when the clean-up task is small.
Where should you store toys out of rotation?
Anywhere that works for you. My rule of thumb is up and out of sight to our kids, but accessible for me. I store them on a shelf in a closed cupboard in the garage. That way I can get to them easily, but our kids don’t see them.
How much should my kids be involved?
This is a great question, and it adjusts as your kids get older. While my kids are small, they don’t have input on what gets stored and what is set out for them. They just play and don’t notice any different. As my older kiddo gets more into preschool age, I’ll start working on teaching the container concept from Dana K. White and let them give input on what they’d like to have out and what they’d like to put away.
Every kid’s personality is different and this may be easier for some kids than for others, but from an early age, I want to teach my kids the benefit of living with less and how to manage their belongings well.
What about decluttering?
On a related note, toy rotation can be helpful if you’re working on decluttering and minimizing toys but don’t want to just do it in one fell swoop. Test out what it would feel like for your kids to have less toys by storing them away, and if after a few months there are no complaints, go ahead and donate most if not all of those items.
When contemplating how to rotate kids toys, there is a little work getting things set up on the front end, but once you get in the groove, it’s actually pretty easy. You won’t regret simplifying your kids toy lineup, both for your kids’ enjoyment and for your own sanity.