Honestly, I have to admit that I am pretty lazy mom. I hate cleaning and we’re usually in our pajamas until we absolutely have to be somewhere. But I worked at a preschool for six and a half years where the toy rotation was king and we did “bins” every week and rotated out the toys. I have witnessed the benefits of a toy rotation and they are real! Here are my 5 secrets to implementing a toy rotation at home that will lead to an increase in your kiddo’s toy engagement and independent play, which is truly the lazy mom’s all time parenting goal.
- Marie Kondo style: Lay out ALL of the toys. This is a good chance to purge any broken toys or toys that are missing pieces (or those toys that just drive you crazy). Group all the pieces of a toy together (i.e. a peg board with all the pegs).
- Organization: There are two general ways to organize your toys (according to me). The first is to group them by developmental category (fine motor, gross motor, pretend play, wow toys or sensory toys- these are the toys that light up or spin, etc., and cognitive). The second way is to group them according to what you have the most of (in my house we have 4 categories: fine motor, pretend play, puzzles, and vehicles). Once you decide on a way that works for you, separate all the toys into your categories.
- Storage: There are also two different ways to go about storage and whichever way you pick will determine how you carry out the rotation. The first way is to put a variety of different toys from each category into a single storage bin, this will be the “bin” you set out for your kiddos to play with and then 1-2 weeks later you’ll set out another prearranged bin with toys from each category. The second way is to put each category into their own storage bin (this is how I do it), so you have a fine motor bin, a pretend play bin, etc. And then when you rotate toys, you just pull toys from each bin to create a good variety.
- Setting out the toys: Less is more! Experts believe that children actually play better when they have access to fewer toys. It’s less overwhelming for their developing brains and fewer toys can lead to more creativity when playing and longer engagement because there aren’t as many toys to bounce around to. If you need more toys, you can always put more out, but start with less than you think your kids will need.
- The Rotation: Every 1-2 weeks. Keeping up with the rotation is probably the hardest part! We’re all busy and the last thing we want to do is add one more line to the never ending to do list, BUT rotating your kids’ toys on a regular and frequent basis will make your life easier! The more engaged your kids are with their toys, the more you’ll be able to get done without those adorable little scavengers nipping at your heels. Also, let your kids help! My boys love going to the garage and “picking new toys.” It’s like shopping for them! And I can get them to clean up their current toys with promises of new ones from storage.