Six months ago I got fed up with all of the toy clutter around the house and decided it was time to take drastic action. I gathered up all the toys, sorted them into bins, and started our family’s experiment with a toy rotation system. It is time to report back and share what is working, what isn’t working, and if it is really worth the extra effort.
If you’ve never heard of toy rotation or you want to hear exactly how I set up our system, read the post Cutting Down on Clutter with Toy Rotation from six months ago.
An Update 6 Months After Starting A Toy Rotation System
How often do you rotate the toys?
In the winter months I did it every week or every week and a half. As soon as the weather got nicer, I started spreading out the rotations even more. I don’t have a strict schedule for it, but I’m probably rotating the boxes every two weeks.
How long does it take you to pack up the old toys and pull out the new ones?
It always feels like it is going to take me a lot longer than it actually does. If all the toys are cleaned up, I can pack up the bin in less than 10 minutes. It takes me more time if the kids are around when I do this. I do not recommend trying to pack up toys with children around.
How do you reveal the new toys to your children?
I had read about a mom who packed up their toys each Friday night after the kids were in bed and then every Saturday morning was like Christmas when the kids came downstairs to see the new toys sitting out. That was not my experience. My kids were very unimpressed when I tried that.
What really works for my family is to let the kids unpack the new bin of toys themselves. They can clearly see all the new toys without any of them getting “lost” inside a basket or on a high shelf. They don’t have to go “hunting” for the new toys. They are all right there for them to dig through. They love it!
Do your children miss toys that have been packed up? Do they ever ask for packed up toys?
At first Grace asked for toys quite often. I explained that her toy was packed up and we would get it out another time. If she insisted, then I went looking for the toy. I think she just needed some time to learn what this toy rotation thing was all about.
The only thing Noah ever seemed to ask for was a ball. I learned quickly that Noah needed to have easy access to the balls at all time. I was careful to make sure there was some kind of ball in each bin, but Noah has his favorites.
What is the hardest part about using a toy rotation system?
Setting up the system took the most time, but maintaining the toy rotation system is the hardest part. Although it doesn’t take much time to pack up a bin and bring up a new one, I have to mentally be in the mood for the task and the children need to be occupied somewhere else.
We don’t have a play room. Toys don’t stay in just one spot in our house. It is annoying (and a bit of a drag) to gather all the toys that wandered away. I often find missing puzzle pieces, a lost Little People animal, or random blocks after I’ve packed up a bin. I started to throw them all into a basket on top of our toy shelf so I can keep the random little pieces somewhat organized until I bring up the bin that they belong in.
Do you keep a list of everything that goes in each toy rotation bin?
Oh goodness no. I’m not nearly that organized. As a matter of fact, the last time I switched out bins I brought up all of the bins so I could reorganize them a bit. They weren’t quite as even as they had once been. Grace has taken some of toys that were once in the bins and started keeping them in her room for quiet time play. I’m fine with that, but it did mess up my system a bit. So I just sorted through all the bins again. I pulled out toys Noah has out grown and anything else the children never play with.
Where do you keep the bins of toys so your children don’t find them and play with everything?
Our bins are in the basement. Our children never go into the basement by themselves. We don’t encourage them to play down there since it isn’t a finished space. Honestly, I think they would be a bit scared to go down there alone. It helps that our children are 2 years old and nearly 5 years old.
After all the work to set it up and maintain it, is a toy rotation system worth the effort?
Yes, yes, and yes a thousand more times. There are moments when maintaining this system is a pain, but keeping our toy clutter under control before was a daily pain. It is so much easier to clean up the toys each night.
My children are much more engaged with the toys than they were before we started the system. There is genuine excitement when we pull out a new bin. Before the only toy excitement my kids expressed was at Christmas or on their birthdays.
An added surprise bonus to doing toy rotation is that it was much easier to gather toys for our 8 hour road trip this summer. I usually try to hide some of the good car ride toys a couple weeks before we have a big trip so the kids are excited to play with them in the car. This year I went in the basement, opened all the bins, and pulled out plenty of good toys the kids hadn’t seen for awhile. It was so easy!
If toy rotation sounds like something you would like to try, make sure you read Cutting Down on Clutter with Toy Rotation to see how I sorted our toys and set up our system.
Do you have any more questions about toy rotation systems? If you’ve tried it, did you think it was worth the effort?