How to give their toys a second life: toy rotation & organisation, made easy!
Toy rotation might seem like an unnecessary level of effort at a time when everything seems like a push. But it's one job that will reap many benefits when you take the time, both for yourself (yay, tidy house!) and for your little ones. They'll rediscover special toys, giving you a chance to revel in more quiet, self-directed playtime with less 'I'm bored's', saving you money on purchasing new toys, and keeping things at home fresh and exciting.
There are two stages of toy rotation, and it's important to understand the difference.
#1 GET ORGANISED
The first step is organisation. If your playroom is overflowing, then it helps to get this right first. It might seem painful, but trust us, it's a game-changer and wildly cathartic, too! Once you've got a system in place, you only need to do 'touch ups' during gift-giving seasons or 6-monthly—it's your choice.
Embrace your inner Marie Kondo, and let us help you with our top tips:
- Collect all toys and group them, so they're visible.
- Decide what you'll keep, then create piles for:
- Group the keepers into categories (e.g. puzzles, dolls, cars, crafts, etc.)
- Once you can see the categories in front of you, assess your space.
- Will everything fit?
- Will you need more storage or shelves?
- Are there toys you can place away in long-term storage?
- Don't pack toys too tightly—they need to be easy for little hands to access and for everyone to pack away later.
- Create storage where toys can stay in their categories.
- You may find that some of these categories can be broken up into sub-categories to fit the tubs or shelves you have.
- Label these in ways your children can recognise. We love an image/symbol on one side and words on the other, so they start to recognise the category and read as they develop.
- Set-up play stations or easy to access open storage around the playroom.
- Rotate using our toy rotation tips.
#2 It's time to rotate
The second step is rotation. For those who already have a good organisational system in place for toys, follow these simple rotation tips every 1-3 weeks, depending on your child/ren. With most kids currently at home all day, we believe you will get the best benefits from doing this more frequently.
- Arrange 10 different items on a low shelf or an easy to access area around the playroom. Baskets on the floor are great and make for a fast clean up!
- Try to display a variety of toys that use different developmental skills. Don't be put off by younger toys that may seem too simple for them. Repetition helps them develop new areas of imagination and creative play as well as confidence.
- Put other toys away and out of view.
- For older children, labelling the toy storage vessels helps them recognise, discover and develop a sense of independence.
- Pay attention to the toys that delight your child. You might change only a few toys one week but change all of them the next, depending on how your child plays and shows interest. Go with the flow!
- If you have a reading area, also rotate the books in the same way.
- Try to complete the rotation when your child is not around.
- Don't forget that toys can be any objects your child loves to play with. Sensory items from the garden, suitably aged crafts, and basic kitchen utensils and containers are all excellent, budget-friendly ideas.
- For those crazy busy parents (aren't we all?!), we suggest having a 'dump bin’—a single basket or tub to quickly store all loose pieces or small toys at the end of each day.
If it's not possible to reset the play area each night, a dump bin helps keep the area clean and inviting for the children to play in. It also serves as the place your kids go to first when they can't find what they're looking for.
Do your best to put the dump bin items back correctly every few days.
The goal with this style of toy rotation is about setting super realistic goals for yourself and your current situation while teaching your children independent and explorative play. Tweak the system over time to suit your needs—whatever works best for you, your child/ren and your house layout!
Do you have any additional organisation tips that work for you at home? If so, please comment below; we'd love to empower other parents managing the juggle!