If you are looking for ways to save space, save money, and encourage your child to play independently, then allow me to present the Toy Swap Bin. The idea is simple, but the result is genius.
How It Works
You and some like-minded friends of similarly-aged kids toss a variety of toys into big plastic bins and then rotate them from house to house. The details of the arrangement are up to you and your crew. For example, you can…
—Have just one bin that gets shared, leaving the families who are off-turn to make due with a smaller number of toys until the bin is rotated back to them.
—Have everyone toss toys into a bin and then select the ones you want to take home for the week/ month/ or whatever.
—Have an equal number of bins as participating families and then rotate the bins periodically so that every family is stocked with a bin and gets a new rotation of toys every once in a while.
If you’re looking for some local families who might be interested in starting a toy swap with you, try reaching out in our Facebook neighborhood groups.
Why It Works
Have you ever noticed that your child finds the toys at other peoples’ houses infinitely more interesting than the ones he or she plays with at home? The novelty of a never-before-seen toy is enough to pique a child’s interest and keep them playing independently for longer.
I’ve always rotated toys from our garage to our upstairs living area to take advantage of the novelty idea, but this means we have way more toys in our house at any given time than we really need, and they’re taking up precious space! With the rotating bins, you avoid accumulating an excess of toys.
Plus, you’ll spend less money on toys as your child grows since you’ll only have to buy a portion of the toys you might otherwise stock in your house. The rest will come to you in the shared bin.
What to Keep in Mind
Avoid putting items into the box to which your child is extremely attached. This idea is supposed to keep them happy and entertained, not encourage them to have a meltdown after their favorite teddy bear goes missing.
Also avoid putting in items about which you yourself would be upset if they are not returned or are broken. While all participants in the swap should treat the shared items with care, these are children’s toys, after all. They will most definitely break or get lost over time.
If you think that keeping track of other people’s toys will stress you out too much, consider joining a local Buy Nothing group instead; you can give away or pick up pre-owned toys and baby gear without the obligation to return it.
Have you ever tried a toy swap bin or something similar? How did it work for you?