Two weeks ago, I realized (AGAIN) that my girls have too many toys. If you know me at all, you know that I am a regular purger, but toys have always stumped me. We’ve already culled down the collection to educational games, puzzles, and open-ended toys–no loud, battery-operated toys or Happy Meal collections for us–but the girls still had too many choices and not enough stamina for self-directed, meaningful play.
So I did what all moms do in this day and age: ask for input on social media and search for tips on Pinterest. “What do y’all do with ALL THE TOYS?”
What I found is that most parents in my circle are in the same boat. Our kids are easily bored, and we spend more time cleaning up than actually playing. So, I made the decision to try toy rotation.
Here are the steps I took to get started (and how I’d advise a friend to do the same):
- Gather ALL the toys together in one spot. If you tend to lose steam in the middle of big projects, bring a box of Girl Scout cookies.
- Purge. Make a donate/sell pile and toss the rest in the trash. (Hint: get this stuff out immediately–take it out to the car so it doesn’t migrate back in!)
- Make a handwritten list of every toy/game/art supply/educational material that you’re keeping. Don’t over-think this one–but make sure you can read your writing.
- Look over the list and decide how you want to divide them into groups. I chose six categories:
- Then it came time to actually sort the toys. This fell on day 2, when I pulled out the bins, baskets, and baggies. Everything is going to be stored in their (huge walk-in) closet, so I wanted everything as condensed and easy to locate as possible. All the games are in one bin, all the blocks are on one shelf, etc. As toys started to disappear into the closet, I was amazed that each girl picked something to play with–and kept at it for more than 15 minutes!
In the midst of all of this reorganization, our family went through some illness–I spent a lot of time resting on the couch, and there were two days mixed in there where BOTH mom and dad were sick and unable to play. It was during THAT time that I was so relieved that both girls were occupied and learning.
I want you to see the toys that our girls had to play with for the last two weeks. Lincoln Logs, a basket full of transportation toys (and a few animal figurines), giant magnetic letters (with an oil pan), cheese container & straws, a large pickle jar with pom poms and tongs, and several bangle bracelets (with a jewelry box). Our girls have unlimited access to their books (ours and from the library), and we also did Play Doh several times. That’s it!
You would not believe how focused and creative their play has been. I am amazed! And clean-up time? A breeze! They have not asked for one other toy from their closet, either. I’m a believer!
Do you have any questions about toy rotation? If you’re doing it too, I’d love to hear from you!