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THE ULTIMATE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY HACK FOR TODDLERS & YOUNG KIDS: TOY ROTATION

Ultimate Quarantine Activity Hack for Toddlers and Young Kids

This time has been stressful for most of us, parents with children home so deriving a new structure with activities is important to keep the kids busy and still learning.

Instagram and Pinterest are full of activities to do at home with the kids. But, at some point you have to cook, work, clean up or you’re just plain tired and need a break. Trust me I know, I’ve been one of the parents running a morning and afternoon schedule and it’s downright exhausting.

Don’t fall into despair just yet, there is a solution you can try. And it’s been the key to my sanity during this quarantine. 

A good ol’ toy rotation. 

WHY ARE TOY ROTATIONS THE ULTIMATE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY HACK FOR KIDS?

It’s easy to be tempted to order new toys with overnight delivery on Amazon with hopes that it will keep your child busy the next day at home during the lockdown, or just in general.

But consider these points for a minute. 

A) More toys don’t always equal keeping kids busy for any extended period of time. Plus it might work once, but after that novelty expires. Very quickly.

B) Experts say children really don’t need more than 20 or so toys outside of educational toys. 

C) Research also suggests that face-to-face time with you is actually the best learning and developmental tool for babies, toddlers and young children. 

But, during this time, that’s not always possible. In fact, that’s downright impossible! 

It’s not humanly possible to give that much face-to-face time to the kids without self-care time (which many of us are not able to fully get right now). 

I’d say that’s a recipe for a mental breakdown. 

THE ULTIMATE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY HACK FOR TODDLERS & YOUNG KIDS
THE ULTIMATE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY HACK FOR TODDLERS & YOUNG KIDS

WHY ARE TOY ROTATIONS THE ULTIMATE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY HACK FOR KIDS?

A toy rotation is used by early childhood educators. They change the toys the children have access to and it makes a huge difference to the attention, learning and development of children.   

Here are some of the PROS and CONS of toy rotations before embarking on the journey.

Full disclosure, it takes some time to set up! I promise if you stick to it, you will yield results.

PROS of Toy Rotations 

  • Toy rotations are known to make children feel like they have new toys with a fresh look at toys they already had. 
  • You can match toys with development and skill acquisition. 
  • It keeps kids busy for extended periods of time with novelty.
  • Development of imagination and imaginative play.

CONS of Toy Rotations

  • They take time to procure. Depending on how often you rotate, it requires some extra energy and thought to match skills with your child’s development. 
THE ULTIMATE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY HACK FOR TODDLERS & YOUNG KIDS
THE ULTIMATE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY HACK FOR TODDLERS & YOUNG KIDS

ACTIVITY HACK FOR TODDLERS & KIDS: QUICK GUIDE TO SETTING UP YOUR TOY ROTATION THIS QUARANTINE

Here’s a simple 3 step guide to keeping your toddler or child busy. 

1. Round up, purge & organize toys.

When the kids are sleeping or otherwise not around, find all the in the house, pop them into a single pile and start the organizing. The point of this exercise is to organize the toys in to categories.

First, separate the toys into piles. Old toys that aren’t played with right now or been outgrown should be removed.

Second, the remaining toys should be now sorted into 3 broad but distinct categories:

  1. Imaginative play – e.g., dress up costumes, magic kit, doctor medical case, store or house sets, etc.
  2. Thinking play – e.g., puzzles, games, LEGO
  3. Creating play – e.g., arts and crafts, music, play doh

Some folks say that you should separate the toys into upwards of 6 categories that are related to musical play, cognitive development, physical play, etc.

However, too often those lines aren’t clear and you don’t want to be wasting precious time. Also, often toy manufacturers claim to be doing “things” for your child’s development, but actually have no imperial data to evidence this improvement.

Long story, short, these other categories may end up confusing you. Organize the toys in these categories for effective results.

*Remember: these categories don’t include things like books and stuffed animals. Those should be handled separately, as there might be sentimental value attached to stuffed animals and you may need to have a conversation around that before removing those toys.

**Books should always be part of the toy landscape. Here’s what research says about reading.

2. Select 20 or so age, skill and interest appropriate toys for each box.

Now you should make the ‘selection’ part of the process for the rotation. Pair toys that perhaps align with your child’s interest and with toys that might work well together.

There are lots of folks that say add toys equally from each category. However, you know your child best.

The most effective way of doing a toy rotation is to understand your child’s needs and pair toys accordingly. For instance, my son is 2 years old. He has always gravitated to kitchen play. That includes pots and pans, coffee/tea sets, wooden fruits and veg, etc. I always include more of these in my rotations.

It’s not always an exact science, but after the third rotation, it will be clearer if you stick with this system.

You then need to get boxes (cardboard or clear large Tupperware are fine). I prefer the clear Tupperware boxes so I can see what’s in them when I store the boxes. If you go with a normal cardboard box, maybe just pop a sticky note with some quick notes on what’s in each box so you can easily select another box once you rotate them.

3. Now rotate.

For a toy rotation, you can do a daily or weekly rotation.

In a quarantine situation, you may choose that a daily rotation works best. This category tends to work well for parents of toddlers and young kids, as attention span is shorter and memory is developing at this point in time. Seeing something “new” can really change the game for parents. You may actually be able to get things done!

I personally have always done a daily rotation. It works best I found to keep my son busy and feeling like playtime is fresh and fun.

For the weekly rotation pick a day of the week and stick to it. It is a great way of pushing the reset button when children anticipate fun change.

SOME THOUGHTS ON THIS SEASON OF MOTHERHOOD IN QUARANTINE  

Here are some additional activities to run with your toddler or young child this season of motherhood at home

Don’t forget to keep your wellness and worries on the top of your priority list now that you’ll have a bit of time for yourself. 

Also, in this season of motherhood it’s important to stay mindful, as this time may be testing your patience. Check out a FREE Mindful Parenting GUIDE to keep you in the game.

Feel free to drop me a line below for a check in, or to let us know what you’ve been doing to keep the kids busy at home during this time. 

Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram for more like this. I will continue to do Parenting in Pandemic updates to ensure we have accurate information throughout this global pandemic. 

Did you agree that this activity hack works for toddlers and young kids? Let me know below!

Stay well and healthy. 

Be good to yourself,

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