I used to be a person who overcomplicates things. Ok, I still am. But I’m working on it. One area that I could have gone crazy trying to overcomplicate is the idea of the toy rotation system. I recently realized it doesn’t have to be this complex plan with an Excel spreadsheet detailing each item (kidding about the spreadsheet, of course).
I came across the toy rotation concept one night scrolling through Pinterest. I had this lightbulb moment that I didn’t have to let our toddler have access to every single toy in the house at all times.
My mind immediately went into overcomplication mode. I envisioned myself sticking to a routine of rotating her toys every four or six weeks. In a perfectly orchestrated system in which toys that are most applicable to the season are rotated in at the appropriate time, and in an ordered fashion so that each toy was perfectly spaced out from its previous appearance by four or six week intervals.
I never did get around to fine-tuning my toy rotation system. Because who seriously has time for that?
My attraction to the toy rotation was that it would make my life easier. I wouldn’t have 50 blocks, 10 blankets, 15 books, and 20 stuffed animals to pick up at the end of each day.
I talked a bit about my idea of limiting her access to toys in my post about how we keep our living room organized as the predominant playroom in our home. But even at that time I still thought I would improve my toy rotation system so that it was this organized process I was following.
I did improve it — by simplifying it. Here are my super simple steps for anyone wanting to do a toy rotation who doesn’t have time for developing and following a complex system (like me!).
Step 1: Recognize When Too Many Toys Accumulate
The other day our toddler was trying to sit on our chaise lounge with me and our six month old. The chaise is already a small space, and then she felt like she had to have six books, five stuffed animals, and two sippy cups up there with all of us the whole time. Everytime she would hoist herself back up onto my lap with her 50 toys, inevitably one toy would slide off the edge. Into the pile of already too many toys on the floor.
So she would go to the trouble to get down off the chaise to retrieve the rogue toy. There was no convincing her that she didn’t need it all with her. As funny as this was to watch, I realized I had let way too many toys creep into the living room. It’s just too much!
Step 2: When It’s Too Much, Weed Through the Pile of Toys
That night I sorted through the massive pile of books, stuffed animals, toys, and blankets in the living room. I weeded out what I thought could go back up on a high shelf for another time. I limited what she would have access to the following morning. And I realized that this is enough of a toy rotation system for me.
This doesn’t have to be done every four or six weeks or at any specific interval. Because I’m just being real — I don’t have time for that. Maybe other people do, but I think I can finally be honest with myself and know that among all the other things I should be tracking at monthly and quarterly intervals, the toy rotation is the LAST thing I need to remember.
Instead, I gave myself permission to just do this as needed. I get tired of reading the same five books day after day. So I occassionally pull a book off a higher shelf in her room to read, and then it ends up in the living room pile for that day and sneaks into the available toys. Or occassionally we receive gifts for this or that holiday, and suddenly there are more stuffed animals out than I would like.
I realized that my toy rotation system can happen whenever it works for me. There is no rule that it has to go by the season, or on the first of the month. That’s just too much for me right now.
Step 3: Choose a Place to Store Extra Toys for Later
This is also a good time to go to your reserves of toys, books, etc. and pick out a few items to re-introduce. Right now I’m using the shelves of her closet in her room as my storage area for extra books and toys. As she gets taller, I’m sure I will have to rethink this.
I would suggest choosing a place that is easy to access to keep this process as simple as possible. If the extra toys are stored on a high shelf in the garage, that could possibly make the task just inconvenient enough to put it off. I am way too familiar with making excuses to myself about why it’s not the right time to do something.
Toy Rotation: Simplified
The whole purpose of the toy rotation is supposed to be to make your life easier, not more complicated. And certainly not to create one more thing to do or to induce guilt.
When you realize that you’re picking up more books or stuffed animals than you would like on a daily basis, it’s time for the toy rotation. Weed through and pick out the items that you want to keep for later, when you are already picking stuff up anyway. Put the rest up until the next time you realize too much stuff has accumulated. Trust me, it will.
I’m sure this becomes more complex as they get older and realize stuff goes missing. For now, it is a trick that is simplifying my daily life and I am so grateful for that.
Do you do a toy rotation? I would love to hear any suggestions you might have.