Toy clutter can be overwhelming, and it can seem like a never-ending battle to keep organize toys and keep things tidy. You start to feel toy clutter piling up, and you realize you’ve got more playthings than you have storage bins. In this post, we will show you some tips to organize toys, and we will talk you through the simple steps to rotate toys by setting up a simple toy rotation system to help you on your journey to minimize the kid’s clutter in your home!
Life with kids can be messy, our living room can soon become burdened by a plethora of toy cars and craft supplies, we see an accumulation of mess and find all sorts of things in the strangest of places such as :
- Cups and plates under beds
- Spilled 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
- Underpants draped over the kitchen shelves
We can’t do much to tackle the lurkers, but we can make an effort to deal with the clutter, help our kids stay organized and able to find their much-loved toys. 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 kid’s toys are unplayed, 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 minimize broken toys.
A toy rotation system is organizing toys into storage, from which you will choose several toys 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 organized and calm play area for your kids to relax and unwind in.
Learning how to organize toys by setting up a toy rotation system 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 keep the toy clutter down and prevents toy clutter from building up and taking over.
Before you start to organize 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!
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 cannot find their toys due to a lack of efficient storage space 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 get rid of. 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. It can be a good idea to ask for activities such as a theatre trip or day out as gift ideas to prevent receiving unwanted gifts.
- Keeping toys that are not an appropriate age for your child for sentimental reasons.
- Book clutter, too many books, or outgrown, unread books. A parent’s love of books often causes this. 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. Try creating a simple, clutter-free reading nook for your kids to relax and read in. If you struggle to let go of books and need help with reducing book clutter, read this post.
- Sentimental toys such as stuffed animals which overflow their storage boxes
- Paper clutter, including school papers, drawings, notes, letters, colouring books and scraps of paper. Paper clutter is another huge reason for cluttered play areas and should be kept on top of whenever possible. I have a great post about keeping school paperwork organized. To read it, click here.
- Stationary art and craft clutter, including glue, glitter foam stickers, dried-up playdoh, and anything that doesn’t have a home.
- Dressing up clothes that no longer fit. This is an area of the playroom or bedroom that 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 that 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, playdoh, and glue
- Baby toys
Toy rotation benefits .
- Starting a toy rotation system helps to keep toys exciting for your kids. Each time old toys are taken out of 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 organize toys into a collection and allows your child to see exactly what they have got to play with.
- Rotating toys for babies helps with dexterity and fine motor skills
- Having fewer toys gives your child a larger area 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 refine your child’s fine motor skills.
- Rotating toys for toddlers helps to supercharge their imagination and prepares them for nursery and school.
How to implement 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 that 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 fire up a child’s imagination. Try not to rotate toys that 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:
✔️ Board games
✔️ 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
✔️ Wooden blocks
✔️ Wooden toys
✔️ Wooden cars
✔️ water play, pouring measuring, etc
✔️ Measuring tape and play tools
✔️ Nuts and bolts
✔️ Musical instruments
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 the ideas on the list encourage learning and educational play.
- How to categorize toys, separate all the remaining toys into groups:
● Animals/ farm
● Arts and crafts
● Board games
● Roleplay 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, take one game out to play with this week and put the rest of the board games into toy rotation bins 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 organized 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 solutions to accommodate the toys your little one will be playing with.
Shelves or shelving units make a good DIY toy storage solution for display especially if you are organizing toys on a budget.
- Sharpen coloured pencils
It would be best if you sharpened colored pencils, and all pens should be working. These should be stored in a basket with paper and kids scissors, glue, and other craft materials and 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 will be bored with so few toys but resist the temptation to bring more toys out. You will soon begin to see the benefits of rotating toys and keeping toy clutter to a minimum. read more about the Montessori way of play here
- 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 how your children interact with their toys and each other soon after you start to rotate toys within a few months.
- Rotate the toys and books after a week
Each week choose a new toy from each group and put the toys your children have played with away in another box/area. Once you have rotated through all the remaining toys, you will bring them 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. If you notice unloved and unplayed 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 that 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 repeatedly, even the toys that 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 they played together in their dens for huge amounts of time.
They drew, colored, and painted every day and seemed to have a longer attention span for arts and crafts.
They wrote stories together, then made costumes and acted out the stories. This is one of their favorite things to do when the weather is poor.
They didn’t ask for tv, electronics, or tablets. They seemed content with each other’s company, and they kept arguments 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 overfeeding 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 of their games. Their games last all day without boredom kicking in!
They read books to each other, chatted about the stories, and often played games around the stories.
They played the board games regularly and with a lot more patience.
No, quite the opposite. Our storytimes became much more animated at bedtime, as my kids got much more familiar with the story. They got the know the stories so well they were role-playing them in their general play during the week!
Although having only two books and a reference book each to read seemed a tiny 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 with 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 I swapped the books, 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 favorites.
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 played 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. 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 enamored by, and any noisy toys get donated, and they are definitely not missed by the kids or me.
Toys typically 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 choose which toys suit your kids and how many days you keep the toys and books out before rotating them again.
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If you have any questions about toy rotation or would like to tell us about your experiences with the toy rotation system, or have any toy storage ideas for small spaces, leave us a reply in the comments below!
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