How To Make Toy Rotation Actually Work

Ever been so frustrated by clutter from your kid’s stuff, that you just want to move out of your home and start over? Yeah, same here. Well, my friend, there might be a solution that’s actually great for your little one too. Enter - Toy Rotation.

messy toy room in need of oragnization and a good example of why toy rotation helps

What is Toy Rotation

Toy Rotation is a strategy used by parents and caregivers to manage children's toys more effectively by periodically rotating them in and out of play, keeping only a portion accessible at any given time.

How Does it Work?

  1. Organize and Select Toys: Divide toys into categories or sets based on factors such as type (e.g., building blocks, puzzles, dolls), age appropriateness, developmental stage, or educational value.
  2. Set Rotation Schedule: Determine how frequently toys will be rotated. This could be weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on preference and the size of the toy collection.
  3. Store Toys: Toys not currently in use should be stored away in an area that is easily accessible to you but out of sight to your children to maintain novelty of the stored toys.
  4. Rotate Toys: At the scheduled rotation time, swap out the current set of toys with a new set from storage. The newly introduced toys offer novelty and excitement for the child, sparking renewed interest and engagement in play.
  5. Observe & Assess: Watch your child play and interact with the rotated toys, noting which toys capture their interest and which ones need to be removed from rotation.
organized toys after implementing toy rotations for a child

The Benefits of Toy Rotation

Research shows that toy rotation makes for better, more engaged play.

Benefits for Children:

  • Reduces Overstimulation: Limiting the number of toys available at any given time can prevent children from feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, allowing them to focus and engage more deeply as they play.
  • Promotes Creativity and Imagination: Rotating toys encourages children to engage in more imaginative and creative play, as they find new ways to interact with familiar toys and discover novel combinations of play materials.

Benefits for Parents:

    • Reduces Clutter: Toy rotation helps keep play spaces organized and clutter-free by minimizing the number of toys out at once. This makes cleanup easier for everyone.
    • Lightens the Mental Load: A toy rotation system is just like any other household system. Finding systems that work for your household is crucial to help lighten the mental load of parenting.
    • Extends Play Value: By periodically reintroducing toys that have been temporarily removed from rotation, you can prolong their play value, preventing them from becoming stale or losing their appeal.

Common Pitfalls of Toy Rotation

This all sounds pretty straightforward, but in reality many parents find toy rotation hard to keep up with. Here are the common pitfalls we see parents fall into. If this is you - hi! You’re in great company. We’re here to help you make it work better for you!

  1. We’re trying to get it perfect: Isn’t it funny that something that’s meant to help lighten your mental load can in fact make it heavier. Toy rotation can feel cumbersome to keep up with, particularly when we create too many rules around it.
  2. We forget about stored toys: By the time we remember them, it’s too late and our child has outgrown them.
  3. We’re still drowning in clutter: Somehow even with sorted toys and bins, our playspace is still a mess!

How to do it Better

Toy Rotation is just a tool. And it’s meant to make your life easier, so it’s important that it fits easily into your life, routines, and existing organizational strengths.

  1. Personalize your Toy Rotation System: Before getting started, think about your goals - why are you doing Toy Rotation? Are you running out of living space? Maybe just rotate the big things like ball pits, slides, climbing gyms, etc. Is your child having a hard time picking and focusing on a toy? Maybe reduce the options further and organize by type of toy (ie. building blocks, puzzles, dolls). Is clean-up a chore? Maybe ditch the organization by type and just throw all “available” items into a few unsorted bins and only sort them when you go to store them at a rotation point. Based on your goals, what do you need to add/remove from the standard “Toy Rotation” playbook? There’s no gold medal for following the rules 100% - do what works best for you and be adaptable as your kids grows and needs change.

  2. Declutter First: Keeping up with toy rotation can be really difficult if you don’t spend time at the beginning decluttering. Without decluttering, toy rotation is always going to feel like a major task and you’re not going to want to keep up with it week after week or month after month. Also, as we know, Kids get overwhelmed by stuff and are more likely to play with toys and engage more creatively when they have fewer options. You can curate and rotate a large selection of toys on a continual basis or you can just have less stuff, give everything a home, and make the whole process easier to manage.

  3. Consider Renting Toys: Renting toys helps you “outsource” toy rotation and provides a ton of benefits, particularly for the big toys that take up a lot of space. Renting from a company like JoyLet, you’ll receive expert recommendations about what toys make sense for each stage of development, so you know you always have age-appropriate items without needing to do the research yourself. Your toys will be delivered package-free, assembled, and ready for play and then picked up when you’re ready. No need to store items when not in use. Here’s an example of how you can use rental as a way to outsource toy rotation.
toy rotation diagram



Author Bio

Alli Cavasino

Alli is the co-founder of JoyLet and is all about intentional living. She has a passion for creating sustainable systems that make it easy to elevate everyday life and loves helping others do the same. When not building JoyLet, she loves soaking up quality time with her husband, baby boy, and goldendoodle - preferably in sunny 75 degree weather with an iced latte in hand :)

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