Rotating Toys (or How Not To Be Crushed Under An Avalanche Of Toys)

We are moving (yes, again), so we’ve been using this opportunity to prioritize and purge. One of the areas that’s always been really difficult for me is toys.

I’m sure, if you’re a parent, you’ve been in this situation: your kid has a TON of toys already, most of them littering every square inch of your home, but your child acts as if he has nothing to play with. And getting rid of toys is close to impossible because you know your child has played with each and every thing in the pile (once or twice), and will again (once or twice).

Some of my friends have been really successful at rotating toys, but I just couldn’t figure out how to implement that in our home. But, thanks to Pinterest, I learned that the key is stripping it down to the bare minimum.
I found this great guide at Little Stories. She shows you how to categorize what you have and divide toys into sets that will maximize learning potential.

I really wanted to wait until after the move to start this, but seriously, we were tripping on toys constantly, and I was about to lose it. Teaching clean-up skills is likely my least favorite part of parenting so far. After starting this system, it’s SO much more manageable.

I gathered all the toys and was shocked to realize how many we really had. This is for one child, people, and this doesn’t include larger toys and outside toys, such as his kitcken, basketball goal, and sand and water table, and things like craft supplies. I don’t know if you can tell, but it’s not just one layer deep… the pile covers our entire king-size bed.

I made some tough calls, trying to be honest with myself about what he doesn’t use or need. Then I added back just a few types of toys.

(I feeled compelled to note that I did not lay out the numbers like that, Dexter did. My OCD tendencies would not have allowed me to let them be out of order!)

The benefits so far:

  • There are less toys in the floor.
  • Clean up is a breeze because he’s not overwhelmed.
  • He actually plays with what he has.
  • He plays with things he never tried before and gets creative with what’s available.
  • I’m able to monitor what he’s still not playing with so I can remove it from our home.
  • Our time is spent more productively than before, when he wasted time whining and being bored, and I wasted time trying to force him to clean.

We are in our second round of rotation so far, and it’s still working well. When he asks for a different type of toy, I have him gather up something he’s willing to trade before I give him the new items. Otherwise, I plan to rotate the entire set about every 2 weeks.

I’m really excited to be able to really sort and store my sets when we move. Right now, all the extra toys are still in my bedroom because there was no better place to put them during the move.

If you have other tips and tricks, definitely leave me a comment!

Site Update: Patterns and Tutes

Remember all those tutorials and patterns I’ve been promising to update with actual downloadable patterns? Well I’m excited to say I’m actively working toward making that a reality! I’ve been really intimidated by the process, so I’ve been putting it off. But I realize that some of you are discouraged by the prospect of having to draft your own pattern for my tutorials. It’s a daunting task, especially for a newbie! So I can’t wait to be able to share my patterns with you guys!

When I figure out the process and get some of my patterns uploaded, I’ll post a new blog directing you to a master list of tutorials and patterns. Stay tuned!

Work-In-Progress: Crocheted Lion Pillow

One of the things we plan to give Dexter for his 2nd birthday is his very own pillow! This may not be so exciting to some of you, but he loves pillows and we haven’t let him sleep with one yet. I figured we’d just find something at Target when the time came, but then I saw this pillow on Anna Maria Horner’s site and it is perfect for Dexter’s room!

anna maria horner pillow                  A special thanks to Anna Maria Horner for permission to use her photo!

We decorated with the NoJo Jungle Tales set. The colors could not have matched any better, and thankfully I was able to find almost the exact same colors at Hobby Lobby.

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I’ll probably try to make my face match the one on Dexter’s comforter, and I’ll probably add a few rows to the mane. I doubt I will add ears, but that’s something I’m not even going to think about until there’s an actual pillow!

I have less than 3 months now, and I also plan to make him a felt playhouse, inspired by Homemade by Jill and a few others. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Definitely. These may  turn into Christmas presents!

Dexter wasn’t feeling well the day I took these pictures. Kind of makes me wish he already had his pillow 😦

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2011

So I didn’t quite make last year’s goals. But I still think I did great!

1. Lose 20 lbs: I lost 6.8. I am not mad about this! I lost almost 7 lbs, that’s awesome!

2. Read 52 books: I read 26, unless I forgot to write any down. I intentionally let myself slide on this because I realized early on that sometimes reading that much caused me to ignore other things. So I feel really good about the choice to ease up.

3. Make a dress or shirt for each woman in my family: I knew this was a big one, and I actually did not make a single garment for any of them. But I did manage to make several things for myself and Dexter, do those count???

Other things I accomplished this year:

I made TONS of crafts. TONS. I wanted to do a special photo post where I showed off everything I made. However, that turned out to be a nearly impossible task. You will not be seeing that post.

My sister and I participated in Santa’s Workshop. That was such a great experience! We got to share our crafts with the public, we bonded over common interests, and we got paid to do it. Sweet!

We moved to a new city. This is not my favorite accomplishment of 2010, and I’m still adjusting, but it was great that my husband found a new job after being laid-off.

2011 goals:

1. Lose 15 lbs.

If I make this goal, I will have completed the 20 I wanted to lose. But even if I only lose 5 by the end of the year, I’m going to be pumped! I am actively working toward this goal already, so I have a bit of a head start.

2. Work out at least 10 min everyday (except if I’m sick).

I’ve already been doing this for over 2 weeks! I actually started the day of my 30th birthday, and I’m trying to keep up that commitment. I know 10 min sounds really wimpy, but it means I don’t cut myself any slack. I *can* move with purpose for 10 minutes. Most days it’s 20 or 30 min of activity.

3. Read 24 books.

I’m certain I can match 2010’s progress. 2 books a month isn’t unreasonable, and if I really want to read more I can!

4. Commit to 2 weeks of my Secret 2011 Goal:

I’ll blog about this attempt later. It’s one of those things that I will not talk about until I either do it and succeed or fail and try to be the first to make fun of myself.

5. Unofficial Goal: Blog more frequently.

I’m not going to set a timeline, but I do want to blog more. It was hard this winter because I was too busy to really document everything.

I don’t plan to make any crafty goals this year. I already have a backlog of orders I’m trying to get through, so there is no way I intend to put more things on my plate. I’m really pleased with my progress last year, so I’m basically just going to try to keep up that pace!

2010

Normally I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. However, 2010 seems like a year to start fresh. I will not call them resolutions… I will call them goals.

Goal 1: Read 52 books this year.

I’ve amassed quite a collection of books, at last count I had over 60 on my to-read shelf. And then for Christmas and my birthday I was given 10 more AND a Kindle. (B to the dizzub, I LOVE my Kindle!) So, in an effort to clear out that list, I will attempt to read 1 book per week. I’ve already finished 1!

Goal 2: Lose 20 lbs.

Yikes. Should I really put that up here? I think this is the area where I’m most afraid of failing. I hope that adding it to my public goals will make me more willing to stick to it. I’ve already lost 3!

Goal 3: Make a dress or a shirt for each woman in my family.

This is my let-slide goal. By that I mean I’m going to strive to achieve this, but if things are too busy, this will be the thing I don’t do. The reason I want to do this is to become better at garment construction and reading patterns. When I make things for myself I have too much trouble with measuring and I give up too easily. Making them to give away to people I love should (hopefully) encourage me to finish. I have 2 great books I’ll be referencing (Sew U and Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified), along with tons of patterns from my collection. There are 5 women in my family. I have not started making anything, but I have started gathering ideas from the girls about what they’d like. 

So, I’ll check back in from time to time to let you all know how things are going! Other non-pressing things on my agenda for the year include restoring an old quilt, putting up a tutorial for a stuffed dog toy, and making a 1st year quilt for Dexter. Amongst other things. It’s going to be a crazy year!