Parents, with all their love for their babies, can go overboard in buying toys for their kids. It’s for a good reason, though; toys are instrumental in helping kids grow. Toys foster child development and nurture a learning environment that they can enjoy as they learn. It’s just that sometimes – often – things get away from loving moms and dads, and the sheer number of toys leaves them with a home cluttered with trinkets that their kids can’t seem to organize.
It’s about time you learn some good old-fashioned toy rotation.
What is a Toy Rotation?
In many cases, parents don’t realize that they need toy rotation until they’re knee-deep in legos. Toy problems can sneak up on you. You love your kids, and you want them to be happy and have all the good things in life. The problem is that you don’t have the space for all the good things in life. You have room for maybe ten good things or maybe 20. Some families have a nursery and perhaps a playroom. Ultimately, you can only create a haven of fun and learning for your kids if you have a space for it. Otherwise, the toys take over, and the clutter leaves you with a disorganized mess that you don’t even recognize.
It’s in these situations where toy rotations shine.
Think of toy rotation as a simple solution to your toy problems. Believe it or not, too many toys can actually stunt children’s development. Montessori learning suggests that when children have too many choices, they tend to lose focus. A shift in their attention and focus causes a delay in their progress with a particular toy when it moves over to a different subject of interest. A child’s attention is fragile, and the excitement they feel when too many options surround them can cause their focus to break, resulting in lost progress.
To address this concern of having too many options, toy rotation is the process that parents use to eliminate excess choices by providing a selection of the best toys that their kids can use during playtime. There are several ways to achieve this goal, and this article will discuss the nuances, the pros, and the cons of the approach that you can take.
The great Benjamin Franklin once said that “for every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” With a proper toy rotation, you, the parents, will be able to work, navigate, and move around your own home efficiently as your children learn expeditiously.
Where Do I Start?
As Nelson Mandela once said, “know your enemy.” So the first step in creating a toy rotation that will change the household is to know what you’re up against and size them up. This preparation aims to identify the problem and see what you’re up against.
Step One: Gather All the Toys
To come up with an effective toy rotation, you will need to see the problem for yourself so that you can address it. To fully understand the situation, it would greatly help you if you could pool all the toys in one area to capture the gravity of the problem.
Do a full sweep of the house and check every nook and cranny for toys that need to be part of the deliberation. This step will allow you to keep track of every piece that you need to consider for the task ahead.
Step Two: Identify the Primary Suspects
Once you have all the offenders in front of you, it’s time to single out the most significant nuisance to your organizing efforts. Find the broken toys, the headless dolls, and the games and puzzles that have been missing pieces for the longest time and toss them out.
If a toy seems sentimental or your kids just outgrew a bear or two, box them up. If a particular toy no longer aligns with your kids’ developmental needs, it may be best to give them the boot. Consider the attic or maybe donate them to those in need, perhaps an orphanage or a charity; someplace they can be of use.
Step Three: Match and Categorize
By now, you would have made substantial progress eliminating the clutter, the broken, and the unnecessary from the equation. From here, you have two choices – you can either pare down even further or move on to categorizing.
Once you finish paring down, take a step back and put the toys that belong together in one place. Box up those legos, complete the doll parts, and assemble the action figures. Once you finish setting up, it’s time to categorize the toys into groups.
Put the building toys together, gather the arts and crafts materials in one area, stack the books, and so on. This will be an essential part of creating the rotations later, so make sure you note the categories you have for the toys.
Step Four: Paring Down Further
As you finish categorizing, give each group one last evaluation. Decide whether some of them need to take a trip to the attic, can be donated to goodwill, or even belong in the garbage bin. One important thing to consider is whether or not your kids still play with certain toys. If they rarely touch an action figure or a puzzle, maybe it’s time they part ways.
But perhaps the most tasking step of all is checking your kids’ collections. Do they need 50 Hot Wheels? Do they need ten different stuffed toys? You will have to dig deep as it will significantly benefit the organizing efforts later on.
Step Five: Form Toy Sets
The survivors of the mass paring should be a respectable number of the best and the kids’ most favorite toys. Review how you categorized the toys and find ways to mix and match the remaining toys for your kids to use for playtime.
Some toys will undoubtedly pair better with others, like dolls and tea sets or hot wheels and building sets. The goal is to group toys that fit well together and encourage creative cross-play. You may also consider building these sets according to themes or associations. An excellent example is if your kids play with a Transformers puzzle, you can be sure that they’ll be looking for their alien robot friends in no time.
Once you’re confident about the sets you’ve made, it’s finally time to get organized. Bust out the trusty label maker and containers because it’s time to party. Neatly assemble the sets in containers and store them properly.
Strategizing the Toy Rotation
Deciding on the Toy Rotation isn’t rocket science. It’s more of a trial and error. The important thing is to change the set of toys available to the children regularly. Perhaps consider changing the available toys sets once a week, twice a month, or even once every few weeks. The best pace is whatever feels comfortable for your and your kids’ schedule because, in the end, comfort is the goal of this whole endeavor.
However, there are certain practices that are recommended and have helped and worked for many parents in the past. Here are the most prominent suggestions and recommendations:
To some extent, any form of rotation would undoubtedly have a positive effect as it would immediately assert a semblance of organization. The house is no longer cluttered, and everyone can breathe freely.
According to parents’ experience, the toys they put out one day are often played with just as frequently as the different sets of toys the previous day. However, they also noticed that if you’re able to diversify the selection of toys from one set to the next, children become more excited for playtime.
The most important thing about diversifying your toy sets for each rotation is to ensure that children get a little bit of everything from the categories you set. If you have seven different types, consider including one toy from each of these for every set.
Consider the Favorites
Children have favorite toys. It’s just a fact of life.
Children can be particular when it comes to their favorite toys when parents implement a toy rotation. One thing you can do is separate one or two favorite toys from all of the toy sets and include them in the rotation for much longer than the usual pace.
Some toys require a bit of rule-bending because of certain habits or attachments your children may have developed. Ultimately, the goal of going through all this toy rotation is to maximize your children’s joy and learning. If they have a particular bear they like, it wouldn’t be breaking any backs to keep them in the rotation for much longer.
Display the Current Rotation
Children still love seeing the options they have for playtime. The Montessori learning philosophy, for example, values freedom and independent play. Allowing your kids to choose the toys they play with among the available options in the current rotation is one way to empower them to exercise their freedom and enjoy independent play.
Every once in a while, you may want to try putting the toys on display instead of keeping them locked up in their baskets or containers. This way, you can also try enforcing the rule that would have them put their toys back in place after they play with them.
Out-of-Rotation Toys are Off Limits
Part of why you do toy rotations is to enforce some form of discipline. Besides, science has proven that children benefit from toy rotations. So it’s crucial that, as you go about your toy rotations, you make it a point that toys that you did not include in the current selection are, as they say, out of sight and out of mind.
You can help your kids exercise discipline by avoiding the use of transparent containers or keeping the toy chests somewhere the children can’t access, like a closet or your own garage.
Stick to a Consistent Rotation Schedule
The schedule for the toy rotation is all about convenience and comfort. You may consider a weekly or monthly schedule or even consider basing the toy rotation according to your children’s whims by seeing how long it takes before they get bored with the current set.
There is no cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all standard for the scheduling. Ultimately, what matters is that it works for the family. It may take some observation and trial and error before you find the best toy rotation for you and your kids.
Benefits of Toy Rotation
While getting your kids’ toy rotation down isn’t necessarily backbreaking work, it’s also not a walk in the park. But trust the process. This endeavor comes with its perks, and on top of that list is decluttering your space. Beyond that, the benefits extend to child development and overall health.
The logic is simple: a clean home benefits your mental health, and being knee-deep in clutter isn’t. Also, navigating the home becomes smoother because toys cluttered hallways can be a possible hazard. Houses littered with toys and all sorts of things subject your family to the risks of safety hazards like house fires, things falling over, or injuries due to tripping.
Distractions are impediments to productivity. A clutter-free home is conducive to a productive environment as it will prevent sickness or injuries, making everyone available for work or school. A neat and clean space also benefits mental health as it will allow your mind to relax and feel less stressed. There are even people who find cleaning and maintaining their environment’s cleanliness meditative and therapeutic.
An effective toy rotation allows children to focus and play with their toys with more enthusiasm and spirit. This exercise develops patience and broadens children’s attention spans. By exploring all the ways they can play with the toys, kids also get to enhance their creativity.
For parents, a toy rotation also helps you alleviate the pains of having to tidy up. With a limited selection of toys available to your children, you also help yourself by lessening what could be a bigger mess.
Overall, toy rotations help the family in many ways. A practical and well-thought-out toy rotation benefits the whole family from cleanliness to physical and mental health and even child development aspects.