Friday, September 17, 2010

In Celebration of Toy Rotation

You know the scenario. Your house is bursting at the seams with toys, and you spend your day tripping on, stepping over, and endlessly tidying them up. Yet surrounded on all sides by toys, your little one seems to have outgrown or lost interest in most of them. So you go out and buy some more…
There are few more powerful tricks you can have in your mommy tool kit than understanding the magic of toy rotation. It will save you time and save you money. It will make your house tidier and your world a little saner. And most importantly of all, it will mean more fun and better learning opportunities for your child. Having too many toys out at one time can be overwhelming and distracting for young children, interfering with their ability to focus on an activity. Rotating toys simply means putting some of the clutter away, reducing the distractions and allowing your child better opportunities for learning. And as you bring old toys out of storage and back into the rotation, your child will enjoy them as though they were new again!
Your first attempt at toy organization will likely be the most time consuming, so set aside some time one evening when your little one is asleep. As you get the hang of it, you’ll find that it’s a simple system, but one that can make a world of difference. For best results, keep the following tips in mind:
·         What to keep – If your child plays with a toy regularly (at least once every day or two) keep it out for your child to play with. You may find that some of your child’s favourites never end up being rotated into storage, and that is just fine. The point is for your child to get optimum learning and enjoyment out of her toys.

·         Think variety – When choosing what toys to keep or bring back into the rotation, think of the big picture to ensure your child has a variety of toys to choose from – a variety of pretend play toys, some building toys, some art and creative activities, a few puzzles, a few games, etc.

·         What to rotate out – If your child rarely or never plays with a toy, put it into storage. If you have multiple versions of a similar toy, put a few of those toys away as well. Your child will have just as much, if not more fun playing with two puzzles than with twelve! If you’ve been given toys that are too difficult and more appropriate for an older child, put these into storage as well - just be sure you don’t forget to bring them out again when your child gets a little older. And as a sanity saver, put away those toys that your child loves to hate – ones that they seem fascinated by but often result in tantrums or tears. My daughter has a shape sorter she loved, but couldn’t quite get the pieces back out of once she had put them in, a problem which resulted in frequent bursts of tears. I put the toy in storage and rotated it out a few months later, and was thrilled to discover that she can now get the pieces out on her own – no more frustration for either of us!

·         Find a storage solution – When you put toys away, be sure to put them in a place where your child cannot see or have access to them, or else you have defeated the purpose. A big bin with a lid kept somewhere your child does not normally play is the simplest solution. Make sure it is easy for you to access, not buried somewhere deep in storage – the point is to make your life easier!

·         Pieces together!!!! – Nothing is a bigger waste of money than buying a toy and then promptly losing all its pieces. When rotating a toy into storage, take the time to ensure it still has all of its pieces. If some are missing (and you know you had those pieces at some point!), put the toy on a shelf somewhere until you find the missing piece. Sounds finicky, but there is no better way of saving money on toys and reducing that clutter at the bottom of the toy box. Once you get into the habit of it, you’ll find it is amazingly easy to stay organized!

·         Rotate regularly – I find it works best to rotate my daughter’s toys about once every four to six weeks. Once you get started, you’ll figure out what works best for you. Just be sure to keep rotating regularly. The more you do it, the quicker and easier it becomes. You’ll save time. You’ll save money. Your house will be tidier. And your child will be happier. Take it from this faithful toy rotater – it is absolutely worth the effort! Happy rotating!

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