About six months ago, I got fed up with the constant disaster our living room always seemed to be. Toys were everywhere, it was too much for the kids to clean up (they’re 3 & 1), and I ended up picking up a lot myself at night or just crossing my fingers I didn’t step on anything in the middle of the night.
So I decided to try out toy rotation. Let me tell you…it’s been AMAZING! And it only takes 1-2 hours of initial setup. Worth it!!
First step – buy the storage bins. I bought mine at Target. They’re 12 gallons / 48 quarts, have lids that clip on (easy to close even when they’re a little overfilled), and you can’t see the contents inside (keeps kids from realizing what’s missing). I don’t see them on Target’s website anymore, but Home Depot has one very similar.
Second step – divide up the toys. For the area that you want to tackle, divide up the toys into groups. The number of groups should equal the number of bins you purchased + 1. So if you bought 3 bins, divide the toys into 4 groups, since one group will always be out. Try to evenly divide up similar toy types (balls, dolls, musical toys, dress up, cars, puzzles, etc.), so each grouping has a good variety of toy types. This is a great time to throw away broken toys and put any toys they’ve outgrown into a donation pile. Leave big toys like ride-on cars, large trucks, big bags of Legos, etc. out of these groupings.
Here are a couple of examples of my toy groupings. And yes, all of this fits in a 12 gallon bin!
Third step – label the bins. I just used an index card to number the bins “1,” “2,” and “3” with some packing tape.
Fourth step – pack the bins! Ahh – the bliss of reducing the toys in a room by 75%! Find a place to store the bins where the kids don’t often go. I put mine in the bottom of the coat closet.
Fifth step – set up some kind of reminder to switch out bins and keep track of which bin is next. I already use Google calendar, so I set a calendar event up for two weeks out with the next bin # noted. When that date comes and I switch out bins, I just update the event date and bin number. You could also set up a reminder on your phone. Two weeks per bin has worked well for us!
A few notes…
- Pick the biggest problem area to implement toy rotation. I chose our living room, which means I didn’t implement this for the game room or kid rooms. Those areas seem to be more manageable, and honestly, I don’t have to look at it if we leave it messy overnight (or two or three…).
- Stick to the rotation despite any pleas for a specific toy. I think my 3 year old would be hard pressed to name even just a few of the toys that are not out at the time. When he does think of one and ask for it, I just tell him that the toy is “taking a break.” I’ll tell him how much longer we have until we rotate toys, and that seems to work. He understood the system after we did it a couple of times.
- I have a little extra room in the coat closet, so a couple of bigger toys can be stashed in there too on top of one of the bins.
Whenever you rotate toys, it will be like Christmas morning! Old toys become new again when they’ve been out of sight for a month or more, and they get so excited to see them again.