Rotating and storing my kids toys is literally one of my favorite things to do. Not so much because I'm kind of a crazy person when it comes to organizing, purging, and storing, but because we live in a 1,100 sq ft home. You know, a family of 4 in a 2 bedroom apartment with no garage, storage unit, or secret Harry Potter-under-the-stairs-nook. That being said, my kids have *everything* and many different toys to suit their developmental needs.
If you have never heard of toy rotation, it’s a pretty cool new age concept. Every so often you sort through your kids toys that are currently out on display and accessible, and switch them out with toys that are tucked away neatly in “storage”. There are no strict guidelines as to which toys you can bring out and which toys need to be tucked away. My son is an avid train enthusiast so those have been out for the past 2 years and get played with daily. But the doctor kit that only is utilized for seasonal check ups, or the Duplo blocks that are making too much of a mess for me to clean up, or the 435 hot wheels cars are in a storage bin in my sons closet off limits until I am ready for toy rotation day.
The main goal to toy rotation is that
less is more
Seriously. The less items out for kids to play with, the less overwhelming and over stimulating for the child. Kids focus and impulse control are very slim the younger that they are. When they see a huge room full of toys, their focus gets lost and they jump from item to item not really giving it any full attention. On the contrary, when there are only a few items out to explore and discover at any given time, they spend more time turning it over and using their imagination to create new uses.
As a parent, we try to provide the best life for our kids. It comes from the most amazing place of love and generosity and we want so much more for our kids than we can ever provide.
I challenge you to review the reasons you purchase items for your kids.
I challenge you to identify the meaning of your kids playing and engaged in something.
Is it because they are quiet? Is it because we can't be around as often as we like so we are trying to make up for that lost time spent with them? Is it because saying no means they will cry, yell, ignore, or hit? There is no wrong answer, but being vulnerable and open to yourself can only help you and your relationship with your kiddos.
Picture this: your house is less chaotic, more organized, the kids are focused on their toy/activity, you can walk through a room without zig zagging through a bunch of the kids crap. This, my friends, is toy rotation. But how do you ask? Where do you bottle up this picturesque 1950’s house of Jack and Jane playing quietly at their fathers feet?
It starts with identifying a storage space to house the items not in use. Nothing special, a garage, closet, or under the bed is perfectly fine. For some items, it can be fun to rotate them at grandparents home so that there is something new to play with each month during visits. The items can be tucked away super organized in labeled bins neatly stacked, or in zip locked bags shoved in a drawer. It really doesn’t matter because you are already going above and beyond doing this for your kids so what ever method suits you, own it!
I love a good visual storage display. This allows kids to see what is available to play with, while still maintaining order and decor. Here is a link to a clean, organized, and simple storage unit for displaying the items out for the kids to play with.
After you have a dedicated space to store and display toys, sort through the kiddos stuff WITH OUT THEM PRESENT. I repeat, NO KIDS ALLOWED. In my experience, unnecessary anxiety and psychological trauma will be imposed on them while they watch you sort through their most valued and favorite items. My son still will start nervously swaying back and forth if he catches me during toy rotation day stating “but I don’t want to donate that!”. Let me be clear that I always ask his permission before donating his items, hell, I can now ask him what he wants to donate and he will make his own pile. But there is something to a kid and their dedication to their toys. Hence Toy Story 4…
That being said, yes, some of the items get tossed and donated. You know all of those flimsy and unnecessary birthday take home gifts you get from parties? Toss them. You know that 16th teddy bear in your daughters closet? Donate. This process is cathartic and about ridding yourself and family from clutter!!! Don’t think. Just toss and donate! Anyways, during this process, you will want to take items and tuck them away and leave just a few out for your kids. No need to spend too much time or thought deciding which stays and which is culled at the moment. They will survive.
Every two weeks or so, pending age of kids and how you feel they are doing, rotate them out again! Put the toys that were out back in the closet and replace with a few new items. The kids will get a kick out of finding “new” toys and they will begin to get more creative in the ways that they play. And have fun! Think Marie Kondo for toys- All the joy will arrive once things are in order!