Before I had children, one of my favorite things to do was to organize! I could seriously do this for hours and be enjoying myself the entire time. Needless to say, my love for organization was pretty much thrown out the window once I started having children, and so was some of my sanity.
For a while, I could at least have my office at work organized, which helped me stay somewhat organizationally sane. Then I decided to stay at home with my children after having my third child, and my thoughts on my home changed.
The first few months after having my third child, I was in the newborn baby cloud. I could not even see the mess around me. Then, the hazy film slowly started lifting from my eyes.
I had now been spending so much time at home that I felt like the mess was going to eat me up and swallow me!
We started to slowly organize the house whenever we could, which helped…BUT THE TOYS! So, first, we loaded up the minivan for a donation trip. And I mean LOADED up the minivan to max capacity with toys. The helpers at the donation center asked if we were moving! Nope, just toy purging. After the first toy purge, I felt a weight lifted. I also noticed a change in my children. They seemed calmer and more willing to help pick up because they were not so overwhelmed.
A few months after the first toy purge and after my two boys had their birthdays, we did another purge. Again, we somehow filled the entire minivan. Our home seemed calmer once again.
But then…here came the holidays. And out of nowhere, the house was filled with TOYS! I wanted to become a minimalist, but quickly realized that won’t work for our family right now.
Binging and purging on toys was not solving our problem long term.
A few months prior to the holiday toy explosion, I had reconnected with a friend from my high school days. She also has three children almost the exact same ages as mine. I remember when I first went to her home, I was in awe of how well she kept the toys picked up and organized. There was space for her children to play, but the toys were thoughtfully selected. What was her secret?? Toy rotation!
The idea of toy rotation had stuck with me throughout those months, but it seemed like so much work up front to organize our toys into bins and get the process started.
But we finally did it. It took two days.
Bin 1 – Learning
Bin 2 – Building
Bin 3 – Vehicles
Bin 4 – Toddler toys
Bin 5 – Train sets
Small bin – Small items (toy animals, little people, pirates, and other odd items)
We store these bins under the stairs, which took over part of our dog’s “room.”
All puzzles, games, legos, and play-doh are stored in a closet organized on shelves. These we just take out as we or the kids want to use them. We also have one small closet in our upstairs play room for dress up clothes, since my 4-year-old adores dressing up!
How we rotate:
Every 2 weeks, or whenever it feels like they need fresh toys, my two boys (who are 6 and 4 years old) can choose 2 to 3 items from bins 1 through 3. For every other rotation, we offer bin 5, the train set bin. They can also choose a few small items from the small bin. We store these items in a toy storage shelf that is easily accessible to them.
My 14-month-old chooses some of her rotating toys but we help her, too. We usually rotate about six toys for her every 2 weeks. She just wants to play with her brothers’ toys or random items throughout the house anyways!
We have only been doing toy rotation for about 3 months now, but it has made such a DIFFERENCE for us all!
1 – There is less clutter. This was the main goal, right?! It is amazing the difference in the time it takes to pick up the house and feel like it looks presentable and livable.
2 – The kids get excited about the items they choose. They haven’t seen these items in at least 2 weeks, so they are practically new!
3 – The kids (and myself included) don’t feel as overwhelmed with cleaning up. My boys, and even sometimes my toddler, are much more likely to help with the toy pick up.
4 – There is a generally less stressful feeling throughout the home. My house doesn’t look perfect and there are other things around the house that I just have to let go, but these toys had been a burden. They have now become more meaningful and thoughtfully used.
On the other hand, BOOKS are one thing we have never limited our children on.
They are spread throughout the house sorted in different areas. Truthfully, it doesn’t bother me to see books spread throughout the house. If there is one thing I WANT them to be doing, it’s reading books!
Toy rotation has helped to save my sanity. It has also given a less cluttered and calmer feeling to our home. I am once again (mostly) organizationally sane!