If you have kids you will know how quickly toys can build up, some of which are enjoyed on a daily basis, and others which are left to collect dust, forgotten in the corner of your once tidy lounge room. You’ll also know how this clutter and mess can be the bane of your household cleaning duties, or is that just me? No? Well here’s how to deal with your child’s growing toy collection without surrendering precious floor space or cruelly throwing out half your child’s possessions.

Toy Rotation

The basic idea of toy rotation is described by Kim John Payne and his book ‘Simplicity Parenting – Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids’. He explains that “A smaller, more manageable quantity of toys invites deeper play and engagement. An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm.” Now without getting into the theory of what kind of toys are good for your kids and what kind may be detrimental (Kim explores this very effectively), toy rotation is well worth the effort and it simply makes logistical sense.

Through rotation your child gets to play with fewer toys, engaging deeply for a period of time, before a different set of toys is re-introduced and engagement is once again sparked. With less toys, children look to play in different ways, avoid overstimulation and fight less. On top of this, you have the simple bonus of your house not being overloaded with toys, all the toys get a good amount of use, and clean up becomes significantly easier.

How to Do it

The benefits of toy rotation are clear, it’s simple and effective and if you find yourself intrigued by this idea, here’s how to go about it.

Collect and Choose

The first step to implementing a toy rotation system is getting every single toy of your child’s together in one room. If this seems like too much of a task, you can try tackle one room at a time with the following steps.

Once you have all the toys together, decide what ones are actually worth keeping. There’s sure to be at least a few headless dolls and lost puzzle pieces that need to be thrown out.

Maybe there’s a few items that you can allow to be left out permanently.


From here it’s time to divide the toys in to 3 main categories. These are:

Thinking toys: these target cognitive and fine motor development (puzzles, board games)

Moving toys: which target gross motor movements (ball, cars)

Pretending toys: these target social and emotional development as well as language development (Lego, dolls)

Prepare each rotation

Now it’s time to set up each rotation group. The amount of rotations you will have will depend on the amount of toys you have. This could be 3 – 6 different groups of toys. If you decide on 4 rotations, you should have 4 boxes to rotate between.

Each box should have an equal number of toys from each category that provide an equal amount of engagement. Any areas that are lacking can give you ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts.


If you have 4 boxes in rotation one box will be out at all times. The other 3 boxes should be stored out of sight. A great idea is to find a local storage location on a site like Spacer. Spacer connects people who need space with people who have space for rent.

Display and Rotate

Display the toys that are in rotation on shelves and in their baskets, alongside their books and artwork, making it welcome and exciting.

A good time frame to rotate toys is 2 weeks. Simply switch the current box with a new one and you’re set for another 2 weeks!


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