When it comes to toys, you can definitely have too much of a good thing. While seemingly endless piles of toys may seem like a recipe for endless fun for your child, the exact opposite can actually be true. Children are highly prone to overstimulation, so too many options can overwhelm your child or even stress them out.
Rotating your child’s toys can be a wonderful way to keep your child stimulated and interested in their toys. It can also help you to make cleanup easier and reduce clutter, all while encouraging your child’s imagination and sense of play—which means everyone has more fun! If you follow these simple steps, setting up a toy rotation system can be a breeze.
Schedule Some Time Alone Without Your Child
The initial prep work of setting up a toy rotation system is far easier when you don’t have your little one distracting you—or trying to play with every single toy while you organise it. Try to find several, uninterrupted hours when you can be home without having to watch your child.
You can do this prep work while they’re at daycare or school, when they’re at a friend’s house for a long playdate, while they’re visiting their grandparents for the day, or even while they’re on a fun day-adventure with your spouse. If you make it as easy as possible for you to focus, you’ll get through the task much faster.
Gather All The Toys In One Place
Go around your house and find every toy of your child’s (they can be hiding anywhere!), and then gather them all into one room. This may seem overwhelming, but it makes it much easier to go through everything and be certain you aren’t missing toys hiding in the kitchen, under the couch, or in the back of your child’s closet.
Don’t let the amount of toys stress you out; try to make this task as fun as possible. Blast your favourite music, put on a beloved movie, listen to a new audiobook, and take frequent breaks.
After all, any task can become more much enjoyable if you throw in some entertainment and try to make it fun!
Throw Out or Donate What You Can
This is a fantastic chance to par down and clean out unwanted, broken or outgrown toys and games. Any puzzles with missing pieces, stuffed animals with holes too big to easily repair, board games with lost tokens or instructions or electronic toys that won’t turn on should all get tossed.
Anything your child has outgrown or was never very fond of can be donated, as long as it’s in good condition. View this as an opportunity to purge anything unwanted from your child’s toys and start afresh.
Decide What Toys to Have Available At All Times
While most of the toys will be rotated, there are some favourites or classics that your child will always want to have on hand. If there’s a stuffed animal that’s their best friend, an action figure they carry everywhere or a toy you know they go to more than once a week, keep it available at all times.
You may also want to keep certain classic toys out, or toys that are great for playdates. Building blocks, Play-Doh, Legos or a dollhouse are all options you may want to keep on hand, no matter what other toys are in or out of rotation.
Separate Toys Into Categories
Separate all the toys you’re keeping into specific categories. You can narrow it down as much as you like, depending on how many toys your child has and how varied you want each rotation to be.
To keep it simple, you can sort the toys into just a few categories, such as: imaginative toys, learning toys and active/outdoor toys. If you’d like to get more focused, you can narrow it down into more particular categories, such as: art supplies, musical toys, stuffed animals, dolls and action figures, math toys, science toys, building toys, etc.
Store The Toys Not In Use
Have several storage boxes ready for the toys. The amount of boxes you need depends on how many toys there are and how many rotations you plan to do; a good number for most households is four boxes.
Sort the toys into each box, making sure to put something from each category into each box. When the toys are all sorted, take all the boxes but one and store those away somewhere that is easily accessible for you but that your child cannot get to.
Display The Toys Currently In Rotation
Pick a designed play area for your child, or choose several options around your house if you have the space (such as a place area in their bedroom, in your living room, and maybe a designed playroom).
Display the toys from the box that you didn’t store in this area (or areas). Make sure to make the toys as visually appealing and accessible to your child as possible. Keep them all within easy reach of your child, and try not to stack toys in front of or on top of each other.
Decide How Often To Rotate The Toys Available
You can customise your rotation schedule to work well for your child’s attention level and the amount of boxes of toys you have. Many families rotate out every two weeks, which is likely just enough time to let your child begin to start growing tired of their toys without letting them get over stimulated.
You can also rotate toys as often as weekly, if your child does better with continual variety and new experiences. You can even rotate as infrequently as once a month if you have a solid variety of toys.
Keep in mind the seasons when you rotate as well; you don’t want to have a lot of outdoor toys in rotation during the colder months, for instance.
At The End Of Each Rotation, Reevaluate The Toys
When each rotation phase ends, as you are switching out and storing the toys, take advantage of the chance to reevaluate your child’s interest in those toys. If your child never once played with a toy while it was available (especially if they neglected it for multiple rotation phases), consider donating it.
This is also a good chance to toss any broken, damaged, or outgrown toys right away, instead of letting them clutter up your home for months.
Review Your Rotation System As You Go
Part of the beauty of rotating toys is how flexible the system can be. Keep an eye on your child and how they are reacting to their toys, and be willing to change your system if you find an element that isn’t working well for your child.
You may find that your child does better with their toys rotated more or less frequently (especially as they get older), or that they begin to prefer one type of toy much more than the others. Don’t hold rigid to a system that isn’t working; let it grow and change along with your child.
When you rotate your child’s toys, you may well give your child their best chance to enjoy what they have, and even help encourage a healthy imagination and sense of fun. A toy rotating system can help keep your child from becoming overstimulated, let them have more fun, and even keep your home more neat and organised.