Have you seen the term “toy rotation” thrown around, and while the term itself is pretty self-explanatory, you don’t quite know how to go about it, or why to even do it in the first place? I have been doing it with Elijah since before he was one (now three) so I am going to tell you how and why I do it!
Toy rotation is the practice of switching around and refreshing your child’s toys so they don’t have access to everything all at once. Do you find your child has what feels like unlimited toys – toys up to their eyeballs – yet they get bored easily and don’t play with a lot of it? Toy rotation solves this problem! Sometimes, having TOO much choice becomes overwhelming and it is just easier to choose nothing. Toy rotation will bring back life to old toys they haven’t seen in a while so that your child will actually want to play with them again, and for longer than 2 seconds. Toy rotation fosters both focus AND independent play!
Another big reason to do toy rotation is to maintain order. When there are less toys and materials out, there will be less mess and then your child can focus more since they are in a calm and organised space. Even when there is mess, it is a breeze to clean up because everything has a dedicated spot.
So, now you know why to do it, where do you start?
- The first thing is to consider doing a toy cull. Decide what to keep and what you want to donate/discard. Keep in mind that if there are toys your child doesn’t currently use, they may very well become interested in them again once you start toy rotation. Think broken toys, toys with missing pieces, or plastic toys if you’re making the switch over to wooden (switching to wooden isn’t a must, but I will explain the benefit of doing so in an upcoming blog).
- The next step is to get a good storage system in place. You need somewhere to store the toys that will be rotated away. For us, we have cube shelves from IKEA in our playroom with those fabric inserts but I know this won’t work for a lot of families where a child won’t be able to resist going through them. This works for us though because Elijah knows not to go open them, plus he is too preoccupied and engrossed with what is available to him that he doesn’t feel the need to. Having this in the playroom does make it easier to rotate so if you also want to do it this way, all you can do is try and see how your child adapts. I make sure to never open the drawers with Elijah around so he doesn’t see me doing it. The other option is to remove the temptation altogether and have your storage system in a separate room.
Now you’re ready to rotate! But how often? How much? And when? Rotate everything? Or just some?
- Firstly, I only ever do a rotation when Elijah is in bed so he has a fresh playroom to wake up to and doesn’t witness toys being taken away for him to try and find again later. It is always greeted with such excitement “Wooooow! Look, Mummy! Amazing!” What follows is hours of engrossed AND independent play. As for frequency, that is totally up to you. I started out doing it weekly but it was just too much and unnecessary so now I do it about once a fortnight but I don’t really keep track as such.
- When I rotate, I don’t do everything. From the current set up, I will pick a couple of items that I know Elijah has been playing with the most and rotate away everything else on the shelf. The best thing to do is just observe your child and follow their current interests. There are some items in our playroom that never get rotated so don’t feel you need to be switching everything up. These items are either too big, are being used daily, or simply because I like the look of them on display.
- How much should you have out for them to access? Again, this is up to you but remember less is more. For example, with my cube shelves, I make sure to only have one item per cube, plus the items on top. When things are less overwhelming and displayed nicely, they are much more enticing to children!
- As to how I decide what to put out? I do just grab random things but I try to make sure there is a good variety and that I don’t have similar items out together. For example, two colour sorting activities, or too many stacking toys.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about toy rotation. It may seem like a lot of effort to some (it really isn’t), but this system works perfectly for us and the benefits make it well worth it! Hopefully this has covered everything but if you have any questions, let me know down below or contact me on Instagram 😊