How to Keep That Toy from Getting Stale

“It looks like a day care threw up in my living room.”  ~recent quote from my sister

Yup.  I hear you.  Kids have toys.  Toys are fun.  They are good to have.

But.  Sometimes I get sick of stepping on another toy.  Or having a primary-colored explosion in the house.  Sometimes I am completely over and done with the toys.

Since we moved here, I’ve been practicing what I call Toy Rotation.  These are the toys available for play:

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In case you can’t tell from the mess, that is one shelf of books and two shelves of toys.  Not pictured:  a few freestanding things like Thomas Train, a car track, and the Exersaucer.

But where are the rest of the toys, you ask?  Come, I’ll show you.  They are tucked away in our apartment’s one walk-in closet.  Voila.

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This space used to look like this, but it was harshing my toy rotation.  I decided to move an underused bookcase into the space, and I’ve been very happy with the result.

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How my Toy Rotation works:  I just, you know, rotate the toys.  Sometimes every few days.  Sometimes once a week.  Whenever I feel the need.  Sometimes I rotate everything.  Sometimes I just swap a few things.  No fixed schedule.

Why I like the Toy Rotation:

  • This way I only have as many toys out as I can handle strewn across the living room floor.  And trust me, the toys are usually strewn across the living room floor.  I use the rotation to break up how many multi-piece toy sets are out to help on the all-over-the-floorness as well.
  • Mac has no opinions (that guy will chew on anything!), but Henry tends to quickly notice when new toys show up.  It helps him really see the toy again.  And then he actually plays with it.  It could just be him getting older, but I think he has a longer attention span with just a few toys out.  The other day, a sweat band came out of the toy closet.  Henry treated it like being reunited with an old friend.  He then spent quite a bit of time zinging the sweat band around the house.  Would said sweat band have garnered this enthusiasm if it were always in reach?  I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing not.
  • I always have something in reserve.  It’s been raining for days on end?  Ooo, look, new toys!!  I consider the toy reserve pretty sanity saving in these moments.  I also keep the coloring books, play doh, reusable stickers, and pipe cleaners tucked away to be deployed as needed, although Henry is now tall enough to reach this drawer so I may need to rethink the location.
  • It helps me see what toys to purge.  There are some toys that I haven’t rotated because they are kind of duds.  If a toy isn’t making it out of the closet, I should probably move it along.

But doesn’t Henry notice when his toys are gone?  Yes.  Sometimes.  But not as much as you’d think.  I haven’t attempted to rotate some of the most favorite toys.  Heaven forbid should the matchbox cars go on holiday.  But usually he just enjoys what is there.

When he asks about the truant toys, sometimes he is satisfied with “Dump truck isn’t out right now.”  Other times, I’ve made a rotation on the spot.  I’m hoping that is what the system will be someday.  A collaboration between us and them on having the toys they want without having toys everywhere.  I know I’m not the only one who has such a system.

I’ve had moments of hope.  The other day, Henry, unprompted by me, offered to exchange his moto for Thomas Train.  Yesssss, I thought.  This could work!  Then the next morning he raged hard that his moto was missing.  Sigh.  But at least I didn’t have to go far to retrieve the moto.

This system may not be a good fit for us forever.  But I’m definitely enjoying it for now.

Do you rotate?  Confine the toys to a certain location?  Any toy containment tips?


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