How to create a toy rotation system

With Christmas well and truly over I can imagine many toy boxes are filled with an abundance of toys, which can easily be made into a mess.  When my kids were younger they had their favourites and a lot of the toys at the bottom of the toy box were neglected and rarely played with.   This was when I realised I needed to change our toy system.

How-to-create-a-toy-rotation-system

Many of the toys at the bottom of the box were similar to the ones they were playing with so I created a toy rotation system, it’s very easy to do.

How to create a toy rotation system

  1. Gather enough storage boxes for the toy rotation
  2. Divide up toys into ‘like’ piles.  Eg. trucks in one pile, dolls in another… you get the idea
  3. Declutter your pile as you are sorting, purging any toys that that are broken, outgrown or have way too many off etc.
  4. Fill the storage boxes up with some items from each pile, so you are leaving the kids with a range of different toy choices from each like pile.
  5. Place the storage box out of site – top of wardrobe, linen cupboard, garage etc.
  6. After a period of time 2-4 months, depending on your child’s interest in the toys, switch the toys over, it will be like christmas all over again with new toys
  7. Remember to put the toys your child was playing with into rotation

Toy Rotation System 1

image credit Juniebug Love

The bonus of a toy rotation system is that it will make it easier for the kids to keep their toy area tidy as they have less toys to mess up!  I helped a mum last year organise her toy room and we put away some of the duplicate bulkier toys to help reduce the clutter in the toy room.

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What other mum’s do:

I asked a few mum about their toy rotation system, this is what they had to share:

How do you decide what items to store in your toy rotation?

What we have out depends on what my kids are interested in at the moment… the rest is away. Now that I have older kids too some things that I know they like to revisit often are put away in accessible places so they can access them when they want to, other things are packed away more long term until we rotate things. ~ Kate from Picklebums

We don’t actually have a lot of toys, and the ones we do have are open-ended things like blocks, lego, and dollhouse furniture, so they’re mostly all out all the time! I do however rotate activities like Tri-Ominos, jigsaw puzzles, and board games so they catch the kids’ attention and always feel fresh. I don’t really have a decision rationale – usually it’s what I want to play with that week! Or if I think something hasn’t been out in a while, I’ll choose that. ~ Stacey from Veggie Mama

How much of your toy collection do you put away ie. 50% of it

We probably only have 10% out in the living room at any one time… probably another 40% away but in cupboards the kids can access if needed, and 50% packed away for longer periods. ~ Picklebums

I leave out what they’re playing with the most when I divide the toys up into rotation tubs. Sometimes I adjust the tubs a little to suit their current interests when I am swapping.  ~ Jac from Common Chaos Chronicle

I usually keep out two activities and pop the rest away. My kids are only little (two and three years old) so I know if I leave everything out, alllll the pieces will get lost! The toys themselves are always out, but in the playroom. They’ll usually bring downstairs what they’re interested in that day, which ends up being eight thousand matchbox cars and things for their dolly “babies”. ~ Veggie Mama

How often do you rotate?

Whenever I think about it! LOL Often it is prompted by my small child seeming bored or not being able to find something to do, sometimes it is prompted by a big clean up, or one of the kids asking to get X out. Usually every 1- 2 months or so. ~ Picklebums.

I think rotating on a monthly basis works best for us here at Chaos HQ. It gives them enough time to enjoy what is out, and keep their interest. when I rotated fortnightly, they would say “I’m not really finished with that”. ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

Roughly every two weeks. Or whenever the op-shop/thrift store has a cool game or puzzle I want to buy! ~ Veggie Mama

What do you use to store the toys?

We don’t have lots of storage in our house so some bigger things are in large plastic tubs in the shed, others in smaller containers in cupboards.  The toys and activities that are out all live in a double set of Ikea trofast in the corner of the lounge. ~Picklebums.

We store our toys that are not being played with in big plastic tubs. Some labeled in categories like ‘Mega Bloks’ & ‘Little People’, others just a general mix of play things. ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

We both used recycled Huggies Nappy boxes (labelled with their contents) to store the toys in our toy cupboard (I think I might have had 5 in total). Jen and I used to swap boxes between our houses also – it was a great way to ‘test’ out new puzzles and toys. We kept a mixture of toys in each box – typically a puzzle, blocks, cars, sensory play items etc. (our playgroup also shared and swapped toys regularly). ~ Jenny and Louise from Paging Fun Mums

The top of the playroom cupboard. The op-shop/thrift store! I cull pretty often. And I get a lot of cool stuff from our local one, so it’s almost like we use that as “storage”. ~ Veggie Mama

Where do you store away the rotation toys?

The plastic tubs are stored out of sight in a little storage area we have near our laundry. Out of sight, out of mind! ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

What do you do if your child asks for a toy from the rotation box?

Usually I’ll get it and put away something else to make space. ~Picklebums.

If they ask for something from the rotation boxes, I ask them “Why?” and “What for?” and if there is no urgent reason (like a school project), then I suggest ways that they can use what is already out to do a similar thing. I think once you start digging in rotation boxes during their time away, it leads to having everything dragged out again!  ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

They can have it – my goal is to have on hand things they want and will use. I will probably put one of the games or puzzles away that they haven’t been that interested in that week. ~ Veggie Mama

Is toy rotation worth the effort?

It’s a necessity for us – we don’t have a play room, and my kids share bedrooms so there is not a lot of space for toys or play in their rooms, so we need to rotate to keep the amount of ‘stuff’ under control. It also pays off for me because if my four year old can easily find a range of toys and activities that he is interested in that he can do without much help, then I get a happy kid who lets me work without many interruptions! ~Picklebums.

Toy rotation is definitely worth it in a large family. Before we used this the of system, we were drowning in toys, to the point that I refused to have birthday parties because the thought of more toys was too overwhelming. It makes cleaning up a much easier and faster experience too. ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

I think it can be, although I don’t really do it for toys. ~ Veggie Mama

What is the benefits for you for toy rotation?

Kate from Picklebums says:

  • space saving
  • less toys are easier to pack up
  • less toys means that my kids take better care of what is out and play with it more often
  • less toys means less choice so my kids find it less overwhelming.
  • taking time to choose toys and items that interest my kids mean they are more likely to engage in independent play for longer periods.

I think kids can get a bit overwhelmed when there’s too much choice. Plus I really would like to cultivate an attitude of “less is more”, and for them to really love and take care of the things they do have. I would hate to think they have so much that they can’t see the forest for the trees! Toy rotation keeps clutter down, and keeps child entertainment fresh and interesting without having to buy something new all the time. ~ Veggie Mama

How long does it take you to swap over the toys for rotation?

If the toys are packed up at the end of each day, it doesn’t take long to swap things over at all. ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

Does your child get upset at toy rotation time?

I think the excitement of seeing new things that they have forgotten they had is far greater than the thought of putting other toys away. Of course I keep a few of those sentimental ‘all the time’ toys out for the younger ones, but on a whole, our children have never seemed to mind the swap over. ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

No, they’re usually excited about what’s coming out. ~ Veggie Mama

How do you reveal the new toys?

like to set up the swap while they’re at school or daycare or napping so its a surprise! I can imagine as a child, walking into a room full of toys you haven’t seen in yonks would be like having free-range in a toy shop. Very exciting indeed! ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

We used to swap the toys over at nap or sleep time so they would wake with ‘fresh’ toys and generally we had no dramas with them missing the ‘old’ ones. We probably kept only 30% of their toys out of rotation (it was a great way to minimise clutter around our home). ~ Paging Fun Mums

Do you keep a list of what goes in the bin?

No I don’t bother with a list, no time for that! 😉 ~ Common Chaos Chronicle

Creating a Toy Rotation System 1

image credit: Healthy Tipping Point

 Find more ideas about Toy Rotation:

Do you rotate toys, can you answer some of the questions above to help others that are considering to start.

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12 comments

Abbie March 4, 2015 - 11:46 AM

Thank you for this post.
We have HUNDERDS of toys as Grandma is a giver for sure.
Having so many toys isn’t so bad in our house but when other children come to play the house gets trashed and some toys even broken!!
I keep meaning to rotate them, but never really know where to start.
There are some good ideas here. But just wondering what you may do with Dressups and Matchbox cars and Animals?
Is it worth separating these also? Say 50% stay out. (Think I just answered my own question.. haha.) Or just put the whole Dressup box away?

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 4, 2015 - 3:38 PM

If you have too much yes Abbie for sure put some away. I remember when my son was younger he had a set of matchbox cars for inside use and a set that were always kept outside in the sandpit (in a plastic container so no spider or insects could get in).

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 5, 2015 - 11:58 AM

Hi Abbie, Yes i think leaving half out and putting the rest away and then rotating them every few months. With the dressup’s i have them in a seperate box under their beds only because i know that they go through stages with their dressup’s. And by storing them under their beds they can get to they easily and put away just as quickly.

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Uroos Qindeel March 4, 2015 - 1:28 PM

Wow!!! What a great idea to swap and rotate toys. I found the article very beneficial is really convinced to adopt it very soon. Thank you!

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 4, 2015 - 3:36 PM

Hope it helps to organise your toy clutter 🙂

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Molly March 4, 2015 - 10:18 PM

i have just unpacked our large storage tubs i used to move house with, they were what we used as toy boxes but were better for bulky kitchen stuff then cardboard.
so tomorrow we (kids and i) will be sorting toys out and i will be putting half of them away! we have more room in our new house but still want to minimize the mess and clutter. looking forward to some sorting and tidying. love these ideas.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 5, 2015 - 11:50 AM

Sounds like a fantastic idea, Molly.:)

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Joanne March 5, 2015 - 1:28 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. I’ve been trying to do it for a while but have lacked any real plan of attack and as a result most of it ends up back in the living room. These tips have helped me to see the changes I need to make.
Thanks again for your great website.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 6, 2015 - 8:38 AM

Ooh that is wonderful! I am so happy this has come at the perfect time for you.:) x

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Joanne March 17, 2015 - 8:22 PM

It’s done! Thanks again for the post 🙂
I was going to add a photo to show you, but can’t work out how.

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife March 18, 2015 - 8:31 AM

Awe that is fantastic! Nice work, Joanne.:)

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Julie March 6, 2015 - 10:57 AM

I love this idea but never get around to doing. I so have to do it soon.

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