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How to Set Up a Toy Rotation

Do your kids have legions of Legos? Masses of Matchbox cars? Battalions of Barbies? 🙋‍♀️

If the toy crazy at your house is driving you, well, crazy, you’re not alone…

And I’m here to teach you my favorite trick to manage kids’ toys: the toy rotation.

Don’t worry. It’s quite painless, especially considering the high pain-threshold you’ve developed from stepping on all those Legos. 😉

Note of caution before undertaking this project: Use your best judgment to decide whether or not your kids should participate.

Kids under age 5 will be more of a hindrance than a help. And since they’re generally of the out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality, they probably won’t remember which toys are missing. (Of course, don’t discard any of their true favorites… that well-loved Thomas train and battered-but-beloved My Little Pony should stay out at all times… but you already knew that!)

Kids over 5 can be helpful, depending on their temperament. If you decide not to have them help, just remember that they may feel upset if you discard toys without their input. It might feel scary, but I’d encourage you to get them involved.

They’ll learn valuable lessons about living with less, giving to those less fortunate, and valuing their possessions. I used to be scared to have my kids help with decluttering, but now I realize that the more they do it, the better they get it at it!

Alright, enough caveats… let’s get to it!

5 Steps to Creating a Toy Rotation at your house:

Step 1: Toy Mountain

Ferret all those toys from their pesky hiding places (play room, kids’ rooms, the crisper drawer of your fridge, wherever they may be) and assemble them into one big pile. This doesn’t have to literally be a pile (that could be terrifying!) but you want to get them all together into one spot. You might even make several smaller piles with different categories, such as: Puzzle Mountain, Train Mountain, Lego Mountain, etc. You get the idea.

Step 2: Cut It In Half

Get out a samurai sword (or just imagine you have one) and divide toy mountain in half. Yes, half. Half will be kept, the other half… sayonara.

Your kids don’t need all those toys, they don’t play with all of them, and your life will be much, much easier without them.

I speak from experience here. The less toys I offered my kids, the more creative they became. And bonus: there were less toys underfoot because my kids could actually put them away themselves. (Mom win!)

Worried that your kids won’t have enough toys to play with? Don’t be. If I’ve learned one sage truth about toys over my decluttering years, it is this…

Kids will play with whatever number of toys they are offered. And they will also fight over whatever number of toys they are offered.

I speak the truth on this, mamas. So make your life easier and just offer them less.

Step 3: Divide Remaining Toys into Two Groups of Equal Awesomeness

One group will stay out for play and the other group will be stored for rotation.

As you make the two groups, really think about what types of toys your kids would consider equal.

For example, if your kids consider Mr. Potato Head and Buzz Lightyear to be of equal awesomeness, put Buzz out for play, and let Mr. P chill in a bin for awhile. (I mean, he’s a potato, after all, chillin’ in a bin is kind of his thing…)

Step 4: Store It!

Select a good spot for out-of-rotation toys. When my kids were little, I put mine in the attic. You could also use any available closet or cupboard.

It really doesn’t matter, as long as the location is not easily accessible for your kids.

You don’t want them treating the out-of-rotation toys like another play area. Once my kids were old enough to access the out of rotation toys, I told them that the toys are resting and need to be left alone. However, I did sometimes let them swap me a current toy for an out-of-rotation one, if they wanted.

One client’s out-of-rotation toy bin, which she stores in her basement.

Step 5: Rotate!

Some people do this every few weeks. I did it when my kids got noticeably antsy with their current toys, usually every two months or so, more often in winter. When I had an in-home nanny, this was something I assigned her to do.

A major bonus of toy rotation: the day you get those “new” toys out, your kids will play happily for hours. I loved using toy rotation as a sanity-saver for bad weather days!

That’s it! Toys rotated, mom and kids happy, the world a better place. I’d love to hear some ideas about how you use toy rotation in your house!

To less toys… and more happy play time!

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PS: If you’re a busy working mom who wants to declutter your home, simplify your work-life, and calm your mind… Sign up for my FREE 30-Day Simplicity Challenge!

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