Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Toy switch

I first heard about toy switching when I was a teen visiting my Uncle and Aunt in Georgia.  I happened to be there for a toy switch, and once they explained it to me, I was pretty sure they were geniuses.  If you've ever thought or said out loud, "We have too many toys" try this.  We don't have alot of toys, but the playroom is a 5X7 area, so space to play disappears quickly if we have more than two or three things out.  I will also admit to being a bit anal.  I love to organize; having a place for everything and everything in it's place is very satisfying for me.  
Doing something like this takes more planning time than work time.  The actual switching of the toys takes an hour, maybe less.  It starts with a list of all the toys you have.  Get rid of some of them.  Goodwill or trash, but just get some toys out of the house.  Every time we switch, I find things that are broken or missing something that can't be replaced-get rid of them!  After you've written down what you have, group toys together.  Whatever toys you think should be out at the same time, and you have room for, group together.  The only advice I have on this part is that more than a few studies have shown that when people have more than three choices, they choose nothing.  This may explain the "They have tons of toys but they're playing with a paper bag!" phenomina.  You can apply that theory to toys by keeping the options down to 3 types of toys.  Example-we currently have out baby dolls and their blankets, bottles, etc; a basket of trains, and some matchbox cars with a semi truck.  We have puzzles and board games, but I try to make sure that there's only three of them out at a time.  We switch toys every two months-this works well for the kids, about the time they seem to be getting bored with what's out, we switch.  The toys are stored together in tubs, and come out twice a year.
 I have a "Toy schedule" document that has what toys come out together, as well as when.  We have some toys that end up staying out all the time-art supplies and dress up.  We have far more books than we really need, but we rotate those as well-that way I can always justify buying more books!   A tip that I only follow with toys, not books, is 1 in, 1 out.  If you get a new toy, get rid of another, this is a big anti-clutter rule.  I'm also not rigid with this rule, either. 
If you take the old stuff out to another room, then bring in the new stuff, the kids will unpack them for you, and you can put away the other toys without anyone noticing or even caring.

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