Toy clutter can be overwhelming, and it can seem like a never-ending battle to keep toys tidy and organized. You start to feel the toy clutter piling up, and you realize you’ve got more toys than you have toy containers. In this post, we will show you how to start decluttering toys, and we will talk you through the simple steps to rotate toys and introduce a simple toy rotation system to help you on your journey to minimize the toy clutter in your home!
There are only a few days left of the school holidays, and we are all still enjoying mornings which are not rushed and scheduled, as we come to the end of the holidays we see an accumulation of the usual mess our kids make, and we start to find all sorts of things in the strangest of places such as :
- Cups and plates under beds
- Spilt drinks
- Crisps crunched into the carpet.
- Piles of toys
- Dirty piles of half worn clothes.
- Shoes under the settee
- Paper clutter
- Arts and craft clutter
- Tangled up knitting
Then there is another level of unexplained mess lurking in the most extraordinary places,
- The sweet wrappers in the candle holders
- The half-chewed sweets behind the cushions
- The underpants in the paddling pool
- The Lego in the shower
- The spiky seashell in your bed
We can’t do much to tackle the lurkers, but we can make an effort to deal with the toy clutter and help our kids stay organised and able to find their much-loved toys. By learning how to rotate toys and introducing a toy rotation system will encourage imaginative play, role play and reduce screen time. If you are struggling to keep your kids off electronics and are looking for ways to reduce screen time and social media read this post.
What is a toy rotation system?
Most kids have so many toys that their play area is often cluttered and drowning in broken unused and unloved toys. 60% of most kids toys are unplayed with while the other 40% of toys are loved and used daily. We hang onto unloved and broken toys out of a sense of duty and are often afraid to tackle toy clutter just in case we upset our children. Using a toy rotation system allows us to weed out the unloved and unused toys and to minimise broken toys.
A toy rotation system is organising your child’s toys into storage, from which you will choose several toys from each category for your child to play with for a week. After a week, those toys go back into storage, and another set of toys are brought out for the following week.
Having only a few toys to choose from during the week allows your child to focus on the toys available without getting stuck with toy overwhelm. It helps to create an organised and calm play area for your kids to relax and unwind in.
By learning how to rotate toys and by setting up a toy rotation system it allows you to see which toys your child would naturally pick up, and which ones they show no interest in. Getting rid of unused toys regularly helps to keep the toy clutter down and prevents a toy clutter build up.
Before you start to rotate toys and create a toy rotation system you will need to get rid of all the toy clutter. If you need help getting rid of toy clutter head over to this post to get started!
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What Is Toy Clutter?
Toy clutter is having an accumulation of so many toys that your child can not see what they have to play with and are unable to find their toys due to lack of efficient toy storage and toy bins.
Toy clutter can be caused by a few different situations:
- Holding onto broken and unloved toys: this is one of the biggest reasons for toy clutter. we often bring more toys into the house than we do declutter, therefore an excess of unused and broken toys starts to build up.
- Holding onto unwanted gifts can cause an excess of toys. Holding on to gifts or stuff other people have offloaded onto you is one of the biggest causes of toy clutter.
- Keeping toys which are not an appropriate age for your child for sentimental reasons.
- Book clutter, too many books or outgrown, unread books. This is often caused by a parents love of books. Often we think that the more books a child has the more they will read. this is not true in most cases. book clutter can overwhelm a child and can put them off reading. having one book out at a time, reading digesting and talking about the book opens up a whole new love of reading storytelling and imaginative play. Bedtime storytime becomes a really special part of the day and one looked forward to by both children and parents. If you struggle to let go of books and need help with reducing book clutter, read this post.
- Sentimental toys such as stuffed animals.
- Paper clutter, including school papers, drawings, notes, letters, colouring books and scraps of paper. This is another huge reason for cluttered play areas and one which should be kept on top of whenever possible. I have a great post about keeping school paperwork organised to read it click here
- Stationary art and craft clutter, including glue, glitter foam stickers, dried up playdoh
- Dressing up clothes which no longer fit. This is an area of the playroom or bedroom which is often overlooked when decluttering toys.
To start decluttering toys you will need a large bin bag, and you will need to throw away anything broken, has a piece missing or is incomplete. The type of toys to declutter would be;
- Board games with pieces missing
- Jigsaw puzzles with pieces missing
- Dolls and bears with missing limbs or heads
- Garden toys which are rusty or broken
- Cars with missing wheels
- Broken or empty ink pens
- Broken crayons and snapped pencils
- Used notepads and paper
- Broken stationary
- Dried up paints, playdo and glue
- Baby toys
The benefits of a toy rotation system.
- Starting a toy rotation system helps to keep toys exciting for your kids. Each time old toys are taken out of toy rotation storage and you rotate toys, your child will feel like they are getting new toys all over again!
- A toy rotation system makes it easier to organise toys into a collection and allows your child to see exactly what they have got to play with.
- Having fewer toys gives your child a larger space to play, which encourages role play and imaginative play as they are less overwhelmed with toy clutter.
- Playing more imaginatively with toys, and engaging in more craft activities, helps to refine your child’s fine motor skills.
How to start a toy rotation system.
10 simple steps to a toy rotation system
- Remove any noisy branded or battery operated toys.
There is no room in our toy rotation system for toys which do not encourage imaginative play! Often battery operated, noisy toys do all the work for the child. Reducing and decluttering the number of noisy toys a child has, helps to fire up a child’s imagination. Try not to rotate toys which hinder role play, donate these items instead.
- Rotate toys which encourage imaginative play (pretending toys)
Choose toys that help your child play calmly and creatively. Good examples of creative toys are:
dressing up clothes
cooking and food toys
playshops, post office, and play money.
pretend hospital toys and bandages.
non-branded figures such as police, fire service, etc
dolls and dolls houses
lego and other construction items
water play, pouring measuring, etc
measuring tape and play tools
nuts and bolts
The list is pretty much endless, stripping away all the branded, noisy toys encourages your child to create their own stories and games. most of these ideas on the list encourage learning and educational play.
- Separate all the toys which are left into groups:
Arts and crafts
Role play and costumes
Dolls and figures
Lego & construction
- Choose one set of toys from each group to keep.
For example, if your child has ten board games set one out to play with this week and put the rest of the board games into the basement, garage or anywhere out of sight to be rotated later on. Do this with each of the groups of toys until you have one main set of toys from each group on display to be played with. With things like dolls, you could keep them in sets of similar dolls.
- Choose two books for each child to read
Put the rest of the books into the rotation for later on. I also recommend keeping one reference / educational book out too, which will also be rotated weekly. I found my kids started to read from their reference books much more often after starting the toy rotation because they weren’t overwhelmed by too many book choices.
School books, afterschool activity books, and school reference books should not be included in the toy rotation system.
having so few books to read may feel a bit strange if your child loves to read, but we will discuss the reasoning behind this system later on.
- Display the toys beautifully
Display the toys on an easily accessible shelf or bookcase and make sure each toy is easy to put away. Small groups of toys should be displayed in baskets within reach. Try to display one toy on one shelf or ensure that each toy is displayed in an organised manner so your child can see the toys available to play with. The play area should be kept free from clutter and clean at all times. Keep floors free from toys not being used by using a toy box for a quick clear up. Make sure you have plenty of toy storage to accommodate the toys your little one will be playing with.
- Sharpen coloured pencils
Coloured pencils should be sharpened and all pens should be working, these should be stored in a basket with paper and kids scissors, glue and other craft materials and should be easily accessible.
- Resist the temptation to bring out more toys
The toy rotation system will feel incredibly strange at first and it will seem like your children have very few toys, you might feel a little anxious that they are going to be bored with so few toys, resist the temptation to bring more toys out. You will soon begin to see the benefits from rotating toys and keeping toy clutter to a minimum.
- Give your children uninterrupted time and space to play
Allow your children the time and space to play without interruption; you should start to notice a change in the way your children interact with their toys and each other pretty soon after you start to rotate toys.
- Rotate the toys and books after a week
Each week choose a new toy from each group and put the toys your children have been playing with away in another box/area. once you have rotated through all the remaining toys these toys will be brought back out to play with again in a few weeks.
- Declutter as you rotate!
As you start your journey through toy rotation you will have a better idea of which toys your children never play with with. if you notice unloved and unplayed with toys do not put them back into the toy rotation system, donate them immediately, this is a great way to keep on top of the toy clutter!
The benefits of decluttering toys.
After decluttering toys and starting a toy rotation system, I soon noticed that my kids suddenly got excited about their easily accessible toys, it was as if they were discovering these long lost toys for the first time. These were the same toys which had been ignored and never played with within the past year.
I observed them playing together for the first time, with no arguments, I witnessed their imaginations come alive. Their once neglected toys were picked up again and loved and played with over and over again even the toys which were over a year old!
Now you’ve read all about toy rotation, why not read how to clean wooden toys in this post!
Frequently asked Q&A
The simple answer is no, my kids really didn’t notice that most of their toys had gone, as they could find things much more easily without the toy clutter and without having too many choices.
They built dens inside and outside with clothes, sheets pillows and anything else they could find. then played together in their dens for huge amounts of time.
They drew, coloured and painted every day, and seemed to have a longer attention span for arts and crafts.
They wrote stories together, then they made costumes and acted out the stories, this is one of their favourite things to do when the weather is poor.
They didn’t ask for tv, electronics or tablets, they seemed content with each others company and arguments were kept to a minimum as they worked more as a team.
They started helping out more around the house especially cooking, making breakfasts and helping with evening meals. My son started paying more attention to the pets and took over the job of feeding them and looking after them more. They both enjoyed trying new experiences together.
Their play seemed to be much more in-depth and imaginative, with role play becoming a major part in their games, their games last all day without boredom kicking in!
They read books to each other and chatted about the stories then often played games around the stories.
They played the board games regularly and with a lot more patience.
No, quite the opposite, at bedtime our
Although having only two books and a reference book each to read, seemed a ridiculously small amount to give my kids, I soon discovered that my kids treasured their books more than they ever had. They looked forward to their bedtime story much more than ever before. They understood the story in greater depth and were able to talk about the feelings of the characters and their relationship to each other. They read to themselves in bed for longer too, before going to sleep which is a habit I’d always hoped they’d adopt.
When the books were swapped the kids were excited to see which books were next to read, and old unread books were given a new lease of life and became firm favourites.
Rotating books also gave me a better insight into which books the kids enjoyed and which ones they were not so thrilled with, this helped hugely when it came to decluttering their books.
After my kids had been playing with their toys and books for a week I put them back into storage, then I got out a fresh set of toys from each group and another two books. Exactly the same thing happened again. my kids were super excited to play with their “new” toys and they were calmer happier and more focused.
A year later I still use toy rotation and my kids are still excited to see which of their toys are coming out of the rotation ( it’s almost like they’ve been toy shopping in their own house!)
I donate any toys, games or books they are not enamoured by, and any noisy toys get donated, and they are definitely not missed by me or the kids.
Toys typically now only take five minutes maximum to tidy up, which is amazing, and it is also easy for my kids to put their stuff away themselves, which is a win for me!
I prefer to store all the toys not being used in groups, in an airtight toy bin or boxes, so it is easy to choose new toys to rotate. I store my toy bins in the garage but a basement is perfect too. make sure all toys are stored out of sight from the kids!
You can use the toy rotation system in any way that suits your family. you can chose which toys suit your kids, and how many days you keep the toys and books out before rotating them again.
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