If you've ever wondered how to rotate toys for toddlers, right now is the perfect time to get your questions answered and put a system into place for a fresh start to the new year! This is an especially helpful time to introduce toy rotation and toy organization into your home, as you likely brought a few new items into your home through the Christmas season! While we all value quality time with loved ones and desire for our little ones to be free from the plague of materialism, we must admit that new toys which capture the attention of our babies, toddlers, and children are of great worth in our homes! To have our children wrapped up in imagination, engrossed in building, or mesmerized by an activity or toy is a joy to behold. Watching our littles grow in the ability to self-play or sibling-play brings the excitement of new growth milestones, as well as the excitement of the thought of a free moment to breathe...or use the restroom!
Toy organization and rotation is not only good for your home, but done thoughtfully, we can also help our littles develop new skills through play. Rotating toys helps maintain the captivating feel of newness even as time passes, engaging your little each and every day.
As parents, we've heard about how beneficial it is to provide our children with opportunities to make choices. We also know that when offering choices to our children, the list of options needs to be short and sweet in order for their brains to be able to assess the possibilities and make their choice. Having all toys accessible at all times creates a situation with too many choices for a child's brain to sift through to make the decision of what and how to play. When toys are constantly available - and especially when they are mixed and jumbled together - children end up playing with everything all at once but never really settling into playing anything in particular. They often spend their time sifting and sorting through the jumble, dividing their attention between toys rather than settling in and focusing. Ultimately, the play isn't as appealing as it could be, leaving both mom and littles disappointed.
To understand what our littles are feeling, let's consider our own closets, our favorite grocery stores, and shopping experiences. It is much more challenging to choose necessary items, whether they be clothes, toys, or food when they are jumbled together or have been picked through and strewn together. And we have adult minds that have been practicing sorting and organizing for years! Our little ones need our help keeping their toys and activities sorted, stored, and organized in such a way that sets them up for successful, engaging playtime!
This is a great time of year to begin this process, whether it is completely new to your home, or you've been operating on a similar system for years and are simply adding the new items to your already established storage and rotation. While our children do not need every new Christmas toy brought out right away, having these new toys entertain our little ones for a day may give us organizers the few hours we need to create the system we want. Get your child settled into playing with a new toy, get to work on your organization, give a fresh toy when the first loses its luster, and continue!
If this is new to you, you'll want to purchase some inexpensive lidded bins, predominantly shoebox sized with a few larger and/or smaller. These bins will get sat on, stepped in, drummed on, and everything else you can imagine, so choose the least expensive option out there! After years of use, most of our bins have several sections attached by duct tape! Shoe box sized is the general recommendation, as larger bins can store too many options or too many pieces for toddlers to sort through and enjoy playing with. Various sizes of small plastic containers are great options for storing art supplies. Keeping crayons, colored pencils, markers, stickers, glue, etc. in individual containers prevents the options and mess from taking over the creativity and fun.
Each bin will have its own individual contents, and will be stored in the place of mama's choosing, so we can determine when something fresh is beneficial in the accessible rotation. The train set goes in one bin, blocks in one bin, doll clothes in one bin, Playdough in another bin, and the list may go on; all games and puzzles can remain in their individual boxes and be stored out of reach to keep the pieces from mixing. There is nothing more disheartening than getting a puzzle or game out to play only to realize you don't have the correct pieces! Jumbling those toys wear newness off nearly immediately!
Once toys are separated, we have options for the ways we decide to rotate. Here are a few of the options. Combine a couple or design your own, whatever best suits the ages, stages, and needs of your family!
- Choose a specific closet that doesn't get touched until the seasons change, and do an overhaul of available toys seasonally.
- Keep certain toys in certain closets in certain rooms of the home, and play with each toy choice depending on their location in the house: bedroom, den, living room, dining room, kitchen, outdoors.
- Keep messier, multi-pieced toys out of reach, while easier to manipulate (and clean!) toys stay within daily reach. Keep a hat or bag handy with the stored activities listed on strips of paper to be pulled out when a messy or complicated activity is feasible.
- Keep newer toys stowed away for a “rainy” day, pulling out one at a time as a fresh addition is desired. This method can still be used even if you play with each of these new toys during your organization day! Simply choose one to keep as a part of the daily options and stash the others until needed.
As our children get used to a system, they will find themselves not only enjoying more of their toys, but enjoying them for longer. We need to help our little ones with this organizational, rotational endeavor to help their brains grow in organized, orderly, and systematic thinking, even as they play, learn, explore, and run wild enjoying their toys!