5 Unexpected Results of Creating a Toy Rotation

toy rotation

My son's toys used to live in the corner of our family room ...one big pile in an overflowing basket, threatening to take over the house at any given moment.  It was daunting to me and to Lewis.  He wasn't playing with toys, he was scattering them.  He was discontentedly flinging one for another, searching for something to satisfy him, only to find a cluttered floor and nothing to play with (did he learn this from my closet?).  As soon as we got out of survival mode with the babies, I told myself, something was going to change.

The perfect solution seemed to be a toy rotation.  I was desperate to get the toys that were threatening to overtake our house (and drive me crazy) under some form of control.  I also wanted to start teaching Lewis self-control, resourcefulness, and contentment.  So on my first day in ages where I was without all 3 boys for more than a short hour, I tackled the project.  I won't go into detail about how to create a toy rotation.  Go to Pinterest.  Go to Google.  The instructions and tutorials are many.  Basically, you just get containers, fill them with toys, and then only pull out one or two containers at a time.  

The first day we were on a toy rotation, I expected magic to happen.  I pictured a humble happy toddler with hands outstretched, excited to open his one treasure box.  Instead,   I had an unsatisfied toddler clinging to my legs wanting me to entertain him after he played with his box for 3 minutes and spread a toy to every room of the house.  

toy roation

We've been at this toy rotation thing for almost two weeks now, and here are some of the initial unexpected results:

1.  I've realized that all toys are not created equal.
We don't have very many toys that do anything besides light up and make noise...something that doesn't entertain Lewis for more than a few minutes.  Children need toys they can manipulate, explore, take apart, put together, and play pretend with.  Also, I think many of our toys aren't age appropriate.  They are either left overs from the baby stage, or they are too advanced for a toddler to do anything with (other than throw them, that is).  While I was strategic about organizing our toys and only giving him a few at a time, I didn't realize that I needed to be strategic about what type of toys we have.  For the next phase of this project, I want to significantly decrease the number of short-lived entertainment toys and keep a smaller amount of really good toys that can last through many stages of development.
2.  I've realized that bad habits are hard to break.
When I was on bed rest and had newborn twins, I used the TV and the iPad frequently to keep Lewis from destroying the house, getting hurt, or otherwise making it impossible for me to tend to the babies.  This was necessary for survival for a while, but it created some dependencies and bad habits for him that I'm having to undo.  He hasn't really learned how to play well with the toys he has without the TV or iPad to entertain him.  This is just going to take time and consistency on my part.  He isn't ruined for life (by any means), but it's just something I didn't realize I was going to have to deal with later.  Also, teaching a toddler to entertain themselves and make-do with what they have (not always whining for more, more, more) just takes time in general.  It doesn't come naturally.  I keep telling myself to have the end goal in mind and know that it might get worse before it gets better.
3.  I'm feeling less overwhelmed about cleaning the house.
The toy rotation has been wonderful for my sanity.  It's not overwhelming to clean up toys anymore because they all have a place, and it takes very little time.  Also, because Lewis doesn't have access to everything at one time, I don't ever have to look over at a room and think, "oh man, that entire room is destroyed".  
4.  Lewis is learning to clean-up.
The other day, without me asking him first, my 19 month old put all of his cars in his tub and carried it to the storage location and then grabbed another box.  I was in shock.  I thought it would be months before he got the concept "only one box at a time".  It turns out that this is a fairly concrete and easy concept for a toddler, and when there are only a few things to pick-up at one time, he actually attempts it on his own.  
5.  I'm feeling empowered as a mother to be intentional and teach important skills to my child.
I'm not always the most intentional mommy...I'm more of a "go with the flow"type.  This isn't inherently bad, but sometimes it becomes an excuse and I get lazy about training.  If Brad and I want Lewis to be a man of character (with lots of God's help and grace) it's our responsibility to teach him certain habits.  This toy rotation has been a lesson for all of us.  I've had to be disciplined and not let Lewis change boxes every 5 minutes because he's bored and he thinks the grass is greener on the other side.  Lewis had to learn to wait, and make-do with what he has.  He and I are growing in our relationship, and have endured lots of teachable moments that will hopefully produce fruit as he gets older.  Even taking this little step of creating a toy rotation has reminded me that Brad and I are the parents, we are the authority, and it's our job to teach and train Lewis.

For now, this has been a good thing for our house and I'm looking forward to continuing it and getting better at it in the future.  

Do you use a toy rotation?  How has it impacted your family?

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