3 minute read


  1. How rotating toys keeps down toy clutter
  2. Keeps toys feeling new
  3. Helps evaluate if toys are still even wanted


Keeping down clutter

Kids tend to dump toys, and sometimes too many toys can be so overwhelming. They won’t even know where to start. Kids should be responsible for cleaning their own toys, not the parents doing it for them. Fewer toys keeps it manageable and rotating toys helps keep the number toys in circulation down.

Extra toys can be stored in large plastic bins and organized in those bins. Those bins are close and easy for Amy to access, but not the kids.

Mitchells originally kept extra toys in the crawl space, but it was a hassle to rotate. Eventually they built a new closet at one end of the toy room, which provides a great storage space for extra rotated-out toys as well as games and puzzles.

Mitchells don’t rotate toys on a strict schedule, rather just when there’s a need. When cousins are coming to stay for the holidays, they pull out the toys the cousins like such as balls, trucks and superheroes. If they are starting to babysit really little kids who like toddler toys, they rotate those out. But some things always stay out like books and dress ups.

Although last week Yellow child even went through some of the dress ups and noticed there were some things no one wore much anymore, so she rotated those out. The kids help rotate too, so they can pick what they are in the mood to play with at that time.

In the summer, the toys don’t get rotated as often because they aren’t getting played with as much. Kids are all outside riding bikes, playing ball more than inside. In the winter time, toys get rotated about every two months.

One sign that it’s time to rotate toys, is when the kids have left a mess on the floor of the toy room, and then not played with anything for awhile. Then it’s time to put all those away and get out new ones from the bins.

Evaluating toys to keep

Every spring the Mitchells declutter their house and hold a yard sale. Sometimes they’ll realize certain toys never were chosen to be rotated back into play. Those are good options to get rid of. As the boys have gotten older, they are more willing to let toys go. The younger girls are still playing with many of the girl toys, so those are kept. Mitchells usually check with the kids to make sure they are done playing with certain toys before getting rid of them.

Rotated toys feel new

Many people use this system. They all like it because it’s nice to keep clutter down as well as keeping toys feeling like new again when they are brought back out. Then you don’t feel like you have to keep buying new toys for your kids all year long.

Having a successful system

In order to keep this successful, find a place where you can keep those extra toys away from kids. If they are easily accessible for kids who can pull out toys whenever they want, then you’ll find yourself having more toys out than you need.

Amy doesn’t mind if kids do want one or two toys out of the buckets and back into play. She just asks the kids to ask her first, so she can keep track of how much is out and make sure it doesn’t get too overwhelming to clean up for kids.

Dave suggests putting toys that aren’t being played with any more into one bucket, so it’s easy to see what you want to get rid of.

When developing a system, keep it simple. You want something kids can do. Some like one big bucket. That’s easy. Some families like keeping sets together, because kids play with toys better in sets. Whatever system you choose, keep it simple.

When cleaning up in a set system, you could have one kid go around and pick up all the cars and trucks and put them in a little bin. You could have another kid go around and pick up all the dishes and food and put them in a separate bin. That keeps them organized and it helps keep it simple when a kid is looking for just one type of toy to gather up.

Mitchells label drawers with pictures when kids couldn’t read, like Polly Pockets or Bionicles, so even little kids could put toys away in the right place.

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  1. Toys, by James Allen. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesallen/7395998056