Trying Out a Toy Rotation

Happy December, Readers! Too often this month can become a frantic checklist of holiday planning, last minute shopping (or crafting), readying the house for guests, packing for travel, stressful eating and general busyness. Let's be honest, that is not a recipe for a calm and happy parent. This month we asked our writers to share some of their holiday plans, their reflections on the past year and their thoughts and goals for 2013. As 2012 closes, we are so thankful for the wonderful things that have happened at The Motherhood Collective over the past months. We wish you all a very happy and fulfilling end to your year. ~TMC-- A couple of months ago I noticed that my two sons, 18 months and 3 years, would go to their play area, dump all their toys into a large pile and then wander around the house looking for something to do. While they enjoyed dumping all the toys out of their boxes, it seemed to me that the pile then overwhelmed them. They couldn’t see the individual toys and couldn’t figure out what to play with. Likewise, it was difficult for them to put their own toys away, because, again, the pile was overwhelming.

I had heard of toy rotations before and have friends that do it, but I never thought it was for us. I didn’t think we had so many toys to warrant a toy rotation. But after many days of toy piles and bored children, I decided to give it a try.

After the kids had gone to bed, I went through all their toys and arranged them into categories. I decided on a few rough categories: thinking/logic (like puzzles and games), pretend play (toy food, cell phones, wallet, broom, etc), and toys that foster motor skills and active play (blocks, cars, balls, train set). My goal was to have 10 total toys out at a time. I chose a few things to stay out all the time. For me these were a set of blocks, a train set, and some accessories to our toy kitchen. I picked 2-3 toys from each category to be out at a time. I included groups of toys as “one” toy—so a small collection of cars or airplanes or a small box of pretend items (wallet, cellphone, broom) counted as one.

As I was categorizing I also noticed toys we had out that were either no longer played with (like baby toys) or that I didn’t like. I set these toys aside and either donated them or packed them up.

We ended up only having enough toys for two full rotations with a few extra items to mix things up a bit. Honestly, I was skeptical as to whether my kids would take to it or not. The first thing I noticed was that my children did not notice the missing toys. The second thing I noticed was that my children did not dump all the toys in a pile, but actually played with them! It was honestly surprising. After about a week, they were ready for a switch. But the longer we’ve been doing the rotation, they longer they seem to be happy with a set. I just switched toys today for the first time in two or three weeks. Another benefit I’ve seen is that I play with them more! I’m also less overwhelmed by the toys and am more likely to want to sit down and play with them (WITH the children!).

There are many blog posts on the internet about toy rotations, so you can get a lot of different ideas that might work for your family. I would encourage you to give it a try and see if it doesn’t bring a new perspective into your house. If it doesn’t, you can always go back!