Almost every home with kids has toy clutter. Before more toys arrive in December, try a toy rotation system.

1. Gather

In the main play area, gather all the toys to the center of the room. You are making a bigger mess at first, but this will help you get organized. It may be best to start this process when the kids are in bed or out of the house. If that isn’t an option, get the kids involved and have them help bring toys to the center of the room.

2. Reduce

Go through the pile and throw away broken toys and items that have missing pieces. Take out any toys that are no longer age appropriate. Pick out toys that the children don’t play with and put them aside for a garage sale or consider donating them or passing them on to a friend.

3. Sort

Once you have culled the toys, you should be left with age-appropriate toys that your children enjoy. Now divide toys into three categories: thinking toys (puzzles, board games, shape sorters), pretend play (play food, dolls, blocks), and toys that encourage gross motor play (balls, push toys, cars). When you have the items sorted, there should be three piles, one for each category.

4. Divide

Divide toys into three to four groups. Each group should have equal amounts of toys from the categories of thinking toys, pretend play, and gross motor toys. Place each group of toys into a large box and label it. Plastic tubs work well and can double as a toy box.

5. Store

Once the toys are sorted and separated into three to four boxes, keep one out and put the remaining boxes away. Make sure you have easy access to the stored boxes so you can rotate them frequently.

6. Rotate

Decide how long to keep a box out for play. Some families switch weekly, while some switch every two to three weeks, and some may switch every month or longer. Choose a time that works for your family. When each box is out, take note of what toys are most popular and which items get ignored. As you are packing up the box, remove the items that didn’t get played with and donate or sell them. A toy rotation system cuts toy clutter in your living space because three-fourths of the toys will be stored at any given time.

More Ways to Reduce Toy Clutter:

Participate in garage sales or consignment sales. Box up unwanted toys now and save them for winter/spring consignment sales or consider taking them to a consignment store.

Pass toys along to a friend or a family who needs them. If your area has a homeowner’s association website or uses, post the items you want to give away, or try

Donate to Goodwill or another charity that accepts used toys and household goods.

Give the toys to a church nursery or a preschool.

Take a few toys to grandma’s house so the kids will have something to play with when they visit.

Think about whether the toy gives your kids joy or you joy. If not, get rid of it.

Throw out the “junk” – cheap toys from fast-food kid’s meals and carnivals. These toys rarely offer much play time and often break easily.

– Sarah Lyons

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