If your kids have tons of toys, but don’t play for long with any of them, rotating toys is the answer!
Have you ever stood in front of your closet and looked at all your clothes and thought….”I have absolutely nothing to wear.” An entire dresser full of clothes, a whole closet full (perhaps your husband shares 10%) of dresses, skirts, shirts, running shorts, t-shirts… many many t-shirts… and yet there is nothing saying “wear me, oh wear me, I will make you look and feel good today.”
How is it a woman can have a closet full of clothes and still think there is nothing to wear? Simple. Because when we say there is nothing to wear, what we really mean is there is nothing new to wear. Your children are no different. Except for them, it’s toys and not clothes.
I had a friend tell me when I was pregnant with my first that she separated all her toys into 3 bins/baskets/trash bags (whatever suits your fancy) and then let the kids have one bag at a time. After a week or two, she’d switch. I thought it sounded like a good way to save some money on toys and since I’m cheap, it stuck in my mind.
Here’s my case for it.
1. Kids don’t focus when they are spoilt for choice
Contrary to what your intuition might say giving your children too many choices will actually encourage them to toy hop. Have you ever noticed your living room has exploded with primary color plastic and yet your toddler goes from one to the other in a matter of seconds and is still bored. It’s because with all the choice they don’t sit down, dig in and learn to focus and use their imagination.
When my kids have independent play time I take out a few toys each day and them fly. They will sit with one or two toys for almost an hour and sing and dance and do who knows what. Both my oldest son and daughter will sit for thirty minutes looking at their books alone. It seems incredible, but it’s true. They will actually play longer and focus when they have fewer options.
2. It helps keep toys new and fresh
I store all toys in my children’s closets which remain shut. At various times during the day I’ll go and take a few toys out. I bring out new ones each day and – though we don’t have many toys – I may not bring out the same ones less than a week apart. Not because I’m trying to deprive them of fun, but because they don’t mind. That way, toys seem new and fresh and when the children grow up they can begin to use the toys for imagination games.
Since they haven’t played with a toy to oblivion they don’t connect it with age and so my 2-year-old may do all sorts of things with blocks even though he had them at 11 months. Val wrote on why the location of toys matter as well in her article entitled Location, Location, Location (of toys).
3. You save money
I like to spend money on experiences rather than things. Of course, I want my children to have toys so they can play, grow, and use their imagination. But I’m not one to buy out the toy store or get something simply because it’s the big thing so this really helps us. Once we spent $40 one time on 3 wooden toys and I almost passed out on the car ride home.
However, they are still going strong and even though they don’t really understand the concept of domino’s they love to point out the animals and make noises. If you are on a budget (or have space limitations in your home) then rotating toys is a great way to save money because the novelty of the few toys you have remain much longer than if they’re on display day in and day out.
4. Kids learn to use their imagination
Similar to what I wrote on why city kids have less imagination, children only really dig in and use their imagination when they have to. Those who are bombarded by constant streams of media will have less of an imagination than those who don’t. And I don’t mean the kind of imagination that imagines the things they’ve seen on TV, I mean true Anne of Green Gables type imagination and fancy that so enriches a child’s development.
If you send them outside and all they have is a plastic toy house then they come up with all sorts of things to do. It isn’t child abuse or neglect to limit their consumer appetites by rotating toys and having fewer on hand, and in fact, it may make them more appreciative of what they’ve already got.
5. Your house doesn’t turn into an off-location Toys ‘R Us
I know everyone has different opinions on the state of your house when you have children. Some feel that if it is tidy and in order and there aren’t lots of toys visible that it isn’t “lived in” and children will feel as though the state of the couch cushions are more important than they are. I don’t really subscribe to this and like to keep a tidy house. Throughout the day there’ll be toys around and pillows and blankets and candles and remotes scattered as little ones are wont to do, but I always make a point to tidy regularly and my kids do help.
I think that you can have a clean, orderly house that is homey and welcoming to your children without being taken over by Fisher Price. Now, many women could care less and love to see the toys as evidence of their growing babies and I think that is great for them, they are cultivating and keeping their home to their liking. As every home should be. But, if you are more in the camp that prefers for there to be less visible toys around, then rotating them and keeping them out of sight (except for the ones in use at the time) will surely help.
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