Every look at homes on Instagram and wonder how it looks so tidy all the time? The toys are never in a mess and they seem to have only a couple of baskets or one large bin of toys.
It's because a)they are minimalists or b)they rotate their toys or c) everywhere else in their house is a mess.
Try not to fret though, your home can look like that too! Today we will talk about one strategy for minimizing the clutter in your toy space. Toy Rotations are a handy way to keep toy mess to a minimum while still offering variety to your kids.
What's a Toy Rotation?
It's an ongoing library of toys you have created for your children whereby you cycle through which ones are actively being played with in your home and others that are in storage waiting to be used.
Your toy rotation does not have to live at your home either. If you don't want to purchase your own new toys (it can be expensive!) there are most likely local toy lending libraries in your community (most Early Years Centres have these available to some level and larger cities have independent toy libraries).
How Often Should I Rotate Toys?
Every so often you can switch out the toys in your playroom with a new set of toys from your toy library.
I suggest rotating approximately once every 2-3 months but if your child is actively engaged in imaginative play with the toys currently available then there is no need to switch it out. Kids don't need much to play with. If they start getting bored or are looking to advance their play then it may be a good time to rotate some of the toys.
What Does a Toy Library Look Like?
It depends on your home and current situation.
It can look like a rubbermaid filled with extra toys. A large basket hidden in your closet.
It can look more organized by sorting toys by categories (moving toys, pretend play toys, animals, etc).
It can also live at a local toy library to save you the hassle of storage.
Why Start a Toy Rotation?
It always seems like more choice is better for people - kids and adults. But in reality more choice inevitably leads to indecision and fear of missing out. Kids don't need lots of toys and they definitely don't need to see all of them at once. It can be overwhelming and overstimulating for them and as a result they may not move into deep imaginative play when given too many options. Less is best definitely applies to the category of toys for your children.
What toys should I include in my toy rotation?
Check out our post about 5 Essential Toys All Kids Need . The gist is that you should include toys from the following categories:
- Silks Scarves, playcloths, blankets
Where Should I Store the Toys?
Having a dedicated toy storage area will help create a calmer and easier to manage home. In our living room we have a basket system whereby we have 4 baskets and toys are placed into each basket according to their category (animals/people, silks/playcloths, blocks and vehicles). You may want to use a toy chest or large laundry basket to throw all the toys in. Choose something that will work for your home and your preferences.
Your toys may be in a designated toy room or could be part of your living space. We like to have the toys in our living space so that we can all be together. Our living room is not a fancy, save the room for guests type living room. It is a well lived in and well loved space. My husband and I will often read books while the children play around us. If they want to take toys to their room to play by themselves they are more than welcome to. At the end of the day all toys get returned to the toy storage area.
I recommend keeping toys out of the bedroom. A bedroom is meant for sleeping. Having toys in the bedroom can be a distraction for kids when they are going to sleep and waking up. I know many parents like to have toys in the bedroom so that when kids wake up in the morning or from a nap they can play quietly; however, if that is the case I would suggest leaving one or two toys in the room for that purpose and keeping the remainder of the toys in a designated toy area in your home.
Books, What About Books?
We don't categorize books as toys. Completely separate in our home. You can also do a Book Rotation too! We do this in our home. I have love for books (perhaps it's the teacher in me) and as a result we end up with too many. Children don't need a library full of books in their home and could benefit from a smaller selection. Ever notice how they always choose the same books anyways? Create a Book Rotation as well to allow your child more opportunities to read different styles of books.