Toy Rotation

Toy Rotation

We choose to live simply and keep our possessions pared down.

We would choose to live minimally regardless of where we live but the reality is we have 2 young children and live in a 1,300 square foot home. Children are magnets for stuff — especially toys. Without intentionally keeping our toy ‘collection’ pared down, the toys would quickly overtake our small home!

Our boys don’t have an abundance of toys. While we have a smaller than average amount of toys for 2 children, if they were all out at the same time, our entire home would be covered in toys!

The solution to keeping our toys manageable is a toy rotation.

Toy Storage

Our ‘excess’ toys are stored in the closet in our 2-year-old’s room. The top shelves store all the extras – blocks, play sets, vehicles and puzzles. (As well as a few blankets and nighttime diapers!)

When Paxton wants a ‘new’ toy, he will trade one of the ones he has already out, keeping the amount of toys out under control.

Besides not having toys everywhere, the toy rotation is fun — when we trade toys, it’s like getting a new toy again. We’ll get a ‘new’ toy down and it will hold their attention for awhile.

Preschool Toys

The preschool toys that are out are stored in Paxton’s closet on the bottom shelves. The shelves are natural limiters for the amount of toys that are out — if the shelves are too full, something else needs to be put up.

This week we have out dress up clothes, trains, foam building blocks (the other half were all over the floor when this picture was taken), wooden blocks, instruments, tractors/trucks and the walker wagonwhich serves as storage for their balls!

Toddler Toys

We also have a small bookshelf in Weston’s room with baby/toddler toys. He prefers playing alongside his older brother but we have some more ‘age appropriate’ toys available for his independent/one-on-one with mama/daddy play including board books, chunky puzzles, soft books, a few teethers and soft blocks.

Book Storage

We also do a similar thing for our books. The bulk of our children’s books are stored on the bookshelf in our room. While the boys have access to this bookshelf all of the time, we keep the books in their rooms rotated since they seem to spend more time independently ‘reading’ in their rooms. Preschool Books

We keep Paxton’s rotation of books on his dresser (so little brother won’t tear them up). During rest time or bed time, we’ll grab a stack of books from here to read to him or let him ‘read’ to himself.

Implementing a toy rotation really has helped keep our home from becoming overtaken by toys, keeps the toys we have exciting and keeps mama sane since everything is organized!

Do you have a toy rotation in place? 

And, I think it should be noted that the rooms are only this clean early in the morning and before bed. I tidied up a bit to snap these pictures. Remember, this blog is only a glimpse into my life and not the full picture — the reality is, I’m really a mess!

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responses to “Toy Rotation” 17

  1. I did this when my kids were younger. I had a medium size box and would swap out toys each month. Now my two daughters 8 and 5 have a toy box they share. Once the toy box gets too full we get rid of a few things. We will either pass them on to someone else or box them up for our next yard sale.

    Something I just started for the girls is a craft basket. (I use an old plastic laundry basket.) Anytime I find something around the house like an empty box, stickers ect I put it in the basket. They love making stuff ! They play with the craft basket stuff more then the toys in their toy box.

  2. Good idea! We pack away Beanie's "therapy toys"–her toys for guided play–so that she only gets out one at a time. Her other toys seem to take over every winter, though!____Bethany@ Journey To Ithaca (formerly Our So-Called Life)

  3. I think this is a great idea. I am slightly shocked sometimes at how many toys friends buy for their kids and so many of them are hardly played with.

    You can also do this with adults too! Just keep a small selection of DVDs/CDs/jewellery/computer games (or whatever you love) out and when you are bored swap them around & it's almost like buying some new ones!

    1. It is shocking how many toys kids have! Honestly, our kids typically only play with a few of the toys that are out each day, I think children really prefer simplicity!

  4. I already have to do this with my little man–he's not even 5 months old, I've specifically asked to NOT be given toys as gifts, and we still have an entire storage bin FULL of playthings. Now, some of them are for Montessori learning/play later, but they're still for fun. Right now, he really only cares for one toy, which helps me to keep things simple.

    1. It's a bit frustrating how many toys kids are given! We are thankful for the giver and the fact they love our kids but if it is something we don't need/want/think the boys will play with, we pass it on/donate.

  5. I've been hoping for a post like this! I just can't find a system that works for us to rotate toys despite wanting to so badly! I feel inspired to tackle this again now. First step, clear a space in a closet to put the "extra" toys! Maybe it will help me get through this last bit of winter – I'm feeling very drained and gloomy lately. A project might be just the thing to snap me out of this funk! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Oh Rachel, that is such a great system! I have an art table/cabinet that has become toy mountain. :ahem: Christmas and a birthday in close proximity have me thinking I need a massive purge! How do you decide to keep or donate/throw/recycle/regift a toy?

    1. We prefer open ended toys (blocks, trains, dress up, musical instruments) over 'noise' toys. Typically if it has a battery, it's gone quickly! (There are a few exceptions like our Little People barn and a toddler guitar). If we don't think it's open ended/encourages imagination and creativity it also goes. I also try to observe the boys and the things they prefer to play with, Items that aren't used by them when they're out in the rotation are purged.

      1. My biggest struggle with purging is "so and so gave them this so I should keep it." For example, Amelia is not really into dolls, at all, yet a family member continuously gives her a doll at each holiday/birthday. How do you separate the toy from the giver? Is it just as simple as not thinking about it? Every once in awhile there are days where I tell myself, "it doesn't matter. If it's not being used, purge it!" I just wish I could have more of those days 😉

        1. I know, it's hard to separate the gift from the giver! We are thankful for the gift and the giver but don't feel obligated to keep the gift, especially if it isn't an open ended toy or will be played with. I'd say with Amelia's dolls, keep 1 or 2 that she seems to like the most, you won't have a ton of guilt for getting rid of all of them but won't have as much clutter!

  7. When my son got to the point of he had more than a few toys and he wasn't just playing with teethers and rolling on the floor it was time for a new solution. I bought 7 small cloth cube sized bins and pulled out all his toys. I then sorted his toys and made sure there were books, balls, sensory toys, small stuffed animals and normal play toys in each of the boxes. We now have 1 bin of toys pulled out for each day of the week, we do have a toy box for the very large toys and 1 large toy gets pulled out with each bin. It has worked so well for us! We have a few things that stay out all the time like his books and the train table and a few puzzles but the rest of our toys are regulated. it insures that every toy we have is played with and allows me to see if there are toys he doesn't enjoy playing with. I clean out toys every 6 months and pack old ones up, or clean out the ones that he doesn't enjoy and sell them. I then rearrange them and add new items. If we have more toys than what fits in the bin we have too many. I love our system and I love not having toys scattered from one end of my house to the other.

    1. This sounds like a great system. I really like that he's playing with different toys each day too! And, yes, not having toys scattered all over the house is wonderful!

  8. The "one comes in, one goes out rule" is great for many things in the house. I did this with Barbie Dolls and stuffed animals for my daughter. If she saw a new one at the store that she wanted. I told her I was happy to get it but one would have to go when we got home. Almost always we left the store without the new one because she couldn't bare the thought of letting go of one at home. I use this rule for my own clothes, if a top attracts my attention at the store, I ask myself if I have cleared out any tops lately, if not I don't get it. This way the closest stays reasonable and tidy and not a cluttered mess.

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