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Faced with moving into a much smaller apartment after living for 3 years in an 1800 sq. ft. house (with a huge basement for storage), this January I decided to start the year with a Toy Rotation system. All this means is that I wanted to keep most of his toys packed up and stored away somewhere accessible, and only allow him access to some of his toys at a time. The goal is to periodically rotate out which toys he has access to.
I noticed that, despite having bins and bins of toys and shelves full of books, Bash was spending a lot of his playtime playing with basically the same few toys, or not playing with his toys at all and playing with things he shouldn’t. Now, obviously, he’s a toddler and will always be getting into things he shouldn’t. But if there was a way I could interest him more in the toys he already had, I was all ears!
I was also so, so done with all of the toy clutter all over the house. With a downsized living space in the works, I knew it would only be worse after we’d moved. My options were to a) put up with the clutter being underfoot ALL THE TIME b) cull out some of his toys and get rid of them or c) come up with a new solution.
We hadn’t moved yet, but I knew this was something I wanted to implement that I could accomplish BEFORE we moved.
Like any good Millennial mom, I searched around on Pinterest first before starting out. What had others done before that seemed to work? I gathered my ideas, hit up Target for some storage bins (the cheapest I could find), and in one afternoon nap time, we were all ready to go.
I decided I wanted to try rotating out toys once a week. It seemed long enough for him to get some good time in with all the toys in that rotation, but not so long that he would become bored with them. Plus, I didn’t want to create too much work for myself. If I did it too often, I knew I wouldn’t keep it up.
So, I bought 4 large, plastic bins on my next Target run. These have worked beautifully (and they’re so affordable!).
Then, I gathered all his books and toys into one area of my living room. It was time to sort.
The first thing I did was cut out all the things that weren’t developmentally appropriate. The books and toys for babies (like his door jumper and rattles) went into permanent storage. The books & toys for older children (that he’s not ready for yet), went into more accessible storage.
The next thing I did was sort his books according to topic: holidays, counting, animals, characters (like Sesame Street & Disney), bedtime, etc.
Then it was the toys’ turn. I sorted them into categories like stuffed animals, blocks, cars, balls, puzzles, etc.
After purging & sorting everything, it was easy to put a little of each category into each of the 4 bins. Once the bins were full, I labeled them with a number (a chalk marker makes this so easy!) and stuck them in his closet.
Each week, I rotate out a bin. I try to involve him in it (he helps me pack it up and unpack the new one) because I think it makes it seem like these are new toys; it amps up his excitement! Now, I had ambitions of doing this on the same day each week. It hasn’t worked out that reliably for me, but it does happen about every 10 days. Bash is young enough that this hasn’t been an issue yet, thank goodness.
The toys available to Bash for each week I put out in bins and on a ‘play shelf’. At our house, I originally had a whole cube shelf where I displayed things as attractively as possible. He loves to pull things out of bins, so I leave some things for him to ‘discover’, and some things out and available.
This play shelf needed to be centrally located because Bash always wants to play around where I am. He’s not independent enough to have all of his toys in a play room separate from the rest of us yet. So, the play shelf was in our living room near the couches & TV.
In the new apartment, we don’t have space for me to put the cube shelf in our living room (and I don’t like that it doesn’t match our living room decor). So, I use the bottom shelf of a small bookshelf and the bottom shelf of our TV stand as his ‘play shelf’.
Since I implemented this system, I’ve seen a real increase in how much and how often Bash plays with his toys. I really think he spends longer playing and reaches for a greater variety of them than he did before!
Some of that might be because he’s maturing, but all things being equal, I’m just pleased his toys aren’t as underfoot as they used to be!
It’s also proven to be pretty sustainable. I don’t feel like it’s much work to keep it up, which means I’m much more likely to keep it going. Convenience is important!
Written by Becca
Questions? Ask them below! Have you tried a Toy Rotation System?