Toy Rotation

We’re spending a lot of time around our house cleaning and organizing. I’ve figured out that my PPD is much more tolerable when things are in their place. It’s probably to the point of compulsion, but my psychologist isn’t at all worried. It’s not interfering with my spending time with my kids or ability to do other things, so I’m not worried either. It just makes me feel better when the laundry is put away and the sink is empty. If that’s what I need to get through my day, so be it.

So when an area of the house is bothering me, it starts nagging me in my brain. I go about what I need to do, but my mind keeps going back to what’s bothering me. Peanut’s toy area, especially with her recent birthday, has been bugging me big time. Even with her no-gift party, she still got a bunch of stuff from grandparents and uncles. Not to mention the fact that Christmas was just a few months ago and a lot of stuff was added then too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful that she has family and friends that love her and want to give her gifts. It just stresses me out when all the toys are all over the living room and there’s not enough space to fit everything into her toy cabinet.

My first thought was to get rid of some toys. I’m certain that I could go through and find some stuff to get rid of, but I’m hesitant to do so at the moment. I don’t want to make any rash decisions stemming from my need to keep the house clean and regret them later. Still, I couldn’t stand the mess of her toy area, so I decided to compromise by starting a toy rotation.

If you’ve never done this, it’s wonderful. The idea is that you take all of their toys and put them into piles. However many piles you want to do. Since we really don’t have that many toys (I went through and got rid of a bunch of stuff that was too young or not in good shape before the holidays) and I only currently have one plastic tote that’s empty, I decided to do two piles. One for in the tote, one for in her play area. Then when you have the separate sets of toys, you keep one of them out for a few months, then rotate a new one in and that one out. Of course, any absolute favorites or lovies stay out all the time.

The benefits to this aren’t just keeping your house clean. I read some research a while back that showed that if there are less options for toys, children play with each toy individually for a longer period of time and they use their imagination more. It also gives the child the opportunity to play with all of their toys rather than just a few. As we were going through making the piles, I realized there were toys that I hadn’t seen out in months. They’re just sitting there taking up space.

So when I decided that I was going to start a toy rotation again, I asked Peanut if she wanted to help. I explained to her that we’d put away some toys for a while, but not get rid of them. Then when she’s tired of the toys that she has out, we’d switch them. I’m not sure if she totally understood the concept, but she was excited about the prospect of helping mommy decide which toys to put in the “in” the box pile and which ones to put in the “out” of the box pile. I also explained to her that we needed to keep the piles pretty even in size and that she’d want to put some of the toys she likes into the “in” pile because when we switched, those would be the only toys she played with. I was amazed at how well she did and how few reminders she needed.

Peanut choosing which pile to put a necklace in.

I think the process went much smoother with her involvement rather than me going through her toys and suddenly half of them are gone. I would hold up a toy and ask her “out or in?” and she would tell me which one. She also chose some toys for the “out” pile that I wouldn’t have thought she cared about right now and some for the “in” pile that I would have thought she wanted now. I was afraid that she’d put all the toys she liked into the “out” pile and then when we rotated, she’d be sad that there weren’t any toys she liked to play with inside the box, so I was happy that she distributed them evenly.

The "in" the box pile.

The "in" pile.

She even helped me put the toys into the “in” box without getting even the least bit upset. I figured she’d be sad when I took the box upstairs, but she could have cared less! I think she actually understands that she still gets the toys, just later. Or she was just distracted enough by coloring. Either way, it went smoothly!

Peanut putting her tambourine in the "in" box.

The full "in" box, minus the blocks that I just put on top of it in storage since they obviously don't fit. No, she doesn't play with Shape Up shoes, that's just the box that her Oma gave her a life-size Elmo puzzle in, so it's what we keep it in.

I forgot to take any before pictures, but here’s what her desk looks like now. It used to have two more big puzzles and lots more coloring stuff. Along with stamps.

Missing her chair because it was downstairs next to my desk when I took this.

And here is what her cabinet where we keep her toys looks like now. It used to be stuffed to the point where you couldn’t see the back wall, let alone all the toys.

Yeah, that's marker on her face. The markers were definitely put in the "in" pile. I'm so tired of those things!

I already feel much better about her toy area. It’s like a stress is just lifted off my mind. Now it’s time to tackle my desk!

How do you keep your children’s toys under control? Have you ever tried rotating toys? Have you involved your children in the process? What else do you do to keep your house under control? 

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