Toy rotation is a great way to ensure your little gems are getting the most out of their play time and not feeling overwhelmed by the choices available. I know that Everly benefits hugely from this routine- she’s always engaged with the toys she has available, and as a bonus for us, clean up time is a breeze at the end of the day! Now, admittedly I am a bit of a minimalist in all aspects of life. Toys included! So my starting point may be easier than most, BUT- it’s all relative! Here are my monthly steps to Everly’s toy rotation:
1. Get ALLLLL of the toys out. From the main play area, the cupboard, the nursery, the toys in your bedroom, all of them! Have a clear space that you can lay them all out…
At this point, you may want to do a cull. Are there broken toys? Puzzles with pieces missing? Happy Meal toys, toys that absolutely drive you up the wall, toys that are no longer developmentally suitable? Bin anything broken, and bag up the ones that you never want to see again. (Toss these in the boot of your car and drop into a donation bin next time you drive past one. Your least favourite toy may be someone elses treasure!)
2. SORT. You can sort any way you like- themes, play type, brands etc. Make it simple enough to remember next time!
I sort in to four piles:
- DIY/household utensils
3. SEPARATE. Remove around 1/3 of the toys from each pile. Be thoughtful when you’re doing this- does your child enjoy using the wooden cutlery with the plastic picnic basket? Then don’t remove one and not the other. Keep things together that you know they like playing with!
4. If this is your first attempt at a toy rotation, then you’re finished! Put all the toys that you’ve separated into a basket or container, and hide it away somewhere that your child won’t see them! (I use a washing basket and put it on the top shelf of the linen cupboard.)
If you’ve done this before and this is your weekly (or like me- monthly) rotate, then you’re ready to swap some toys in! Grab the basket that you keep the ‘hidden’ toys in and pick out replacement toys for the ones you’re removing.
5. A FEW EXCEPTIONS. Not everything needs to be a part of the toy rotation! All kidlets have favourite toys… The ones that they sleep with, run to first thing in the morning, take with them to the shops. Ones that are consistently and thoroughly PLAYED WITH. Everly has a Miniland doll (Kiko) and pram that she is obsessed with. Likewise a huge Elmo toy, a stuffed wolf (Delta Wolfram), a picnic basket, and two Mt Franklin water bottles filled with rice. These toys will never be rotated, they’re here to stay! Her creative play items (Playdoh, markers, pencils, crayons, colouring in books etc) are also always available, and she has a basket of special soft toys in the nursery that she loves to dig around in before bed time.
6. MY SECRET ADMISSION… I have a small stash of toys that I find unbearable, BUT Everly loves them too much for me to give them away. A talking/walking lion, a teeny, teeny, teeny tiny set of books, a pair of flashing sunglasses, a Smurfs dvd and more along those general lines. These things stay pretty constantly in their secret basket. Occasionally I bring one out and add it to her available toys… usually it lasts an hour or two before I’ve relegated them back to the forbidden toy basket. I don’t feel guilty about this, and I urge you not to either! Your sanity needs to take priority.
My toy rotation is super simple and generally only takes around half an hour. But if you’re someone lucky enough to have an entire play room, (or perhaps you have four kids, so of course you have ten times more toys than we do!) I’d recommend checking out How to start a toy rotation at The Spruce. It’s an incredible, in depth, but still super easy guide to toy rotation!