How many do you have out at once? Do you have certain toys that are out all the time? How often do you rotate?
I think that rotating toys might be really helpful around here, but I'm not sure where to start...
DD is only 18mo old, but this is how I do her toy rotation.
She has a little shelf, and I put out one little tupperware box of "piece toys" such as duplos, toy food, blocks, etc at a time. The box only has 9-12 objects in it. She also gets one large object such as "house" or "truck." And she has a tiny basket of little plastic animals, bracelets, and cars that we call her "treasures" that stays out all the time. There is also a stuffy basket in the bedroom, which I'm thinking of stowing some of the stuffies away because she has two babies, and a glowworm that she loves and the rest she is kind of "meh" about.
Everything goes in a crate in our closet when it is not being used.
What's on the shelf is approximately what she can pick up on her own with just a little gentle prompting and help, without wandering off, forgetting, or getting bored. We try to pick up multimpe times a day, and it takes just a few moments. Our idea is, as she gets older and her capacity for organization increases, she can have as many toys out as she can care for without getting stressed out or overwhelmed. I just want her to feel like it's easy for her to be organized by not overwhelming her with more than she can do and feel confident about.
And she's little, so she doesn't care. I meant to rotate once weekly, but I've had the same stuff up there for a month and she doesn't get bored. Probably because she is too busy turning the bathroom faucets on.
If she asks for a specific object, like little house, I'd get it out for her and we might say, "Okay we are going to pack away truck then so there's room on the shelf!"
How many children you have and their age(s) and gender influences greatly the idea of toy rotation, I think. When our oldest was an only child, he not only had far less toys than what we, as a family, have now, but I could also just put a small bin out for him at a time. Then, we had two boys, and the amount out at one time grew a little because we had baby-appropriate toys and bigger boy appropriate toys. Then, there were three ... Now the older three boys can all play with basically the same things, so toy rotation works pretty well here for now. But as dd gets older, we'll have a bit more things in the house at once simply because we'll be back to baby-appropriate things.
What we do is have all the toys in bins in the attic by type - Hot Wheels and tracks, wooden train, action figures, Legos, army guys, Nerf guns/swords/shields, dress-up clothing and accessories, and others. We probably have more options than others might be comfortable with, but with three boys with slightly varying tastes and interests, what we have works for us. One (or sometimes two) bins/categories come down at a time. The bin is usually kept in one of the bedrooms (the kids have two bedrooms between them), and usually after a week they are ready for something else. The older two are old enough now to take the bins up and down (for the most part), but they have to ask dh or I to pull down the ladder.
We rotate, but infrequently. DD is 2 and DS is 10 mths.
There are several things that are always out - books (all books though am re-evaluating this), push/pull toys and playsilks. The wheelybug is also always out.
I try to keep a few cars out at all times and the other stuff comes and goes. We have a plastic bin that fits under our shelf (smalle rthan a lge rubbermaid) and all the toys fit in there.
We have a few larger toys - stroller, rocking horse, large plastic megabloks truck that I hate which get rotated.
We also have a kid sized table which typically has drawing tools and play doh on it.
I think it'll really depends on how many kids you have and what their ages are! But I do second the recommendation for Simplicity Parenting, it's fabulous.
We have three kids, DD1 is 8, DS is 5 (preschool), and DD2 is 22 months. So we have a lot of toys, though less than any of their friends. Here's what we do:
Any toys that don't fit into those designated spaces go down into our basement for storage. Every few weeks we send the kids "shopping" down there and they can exchange any toys they want as long as it finds a home neatly on one of the shelves. They do need some help with this. As I'm writing, I think we'll probably end up having DD1 and DS each have their own shelf somewhere (high enough where DD2 can't access it) and have the rest of the toy storage shared. The system works well except when stuff migrates up from the basement and somehow things don't go down, then the shelves get over crowded and it's very hard to clean up.
I do notice a significant difference in the quality of play when the toys are fewer and they're neatly displayed/organized. I also notice that my kids play differently at other peoples' houses who have a large assortment of toys all over the room. The way our toys generally are, they have an easier time really focusing and engaging deeply. They also tend to put toys away more easily on their own accord and actually enjoy the order they can impose on it all. When things are a mess due to too many toys being around, their behavior suffers. It does take some time to make this all happen which is hard when I get sick or we're extra busy for any reason, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!
Thanks for the inspiration, everyone, to get back on top of my toy-rotating. I've been frustrated with the quantity of toys strewn around our living room lately, and I know it's due in large part to my failure to keep the number of toys limited that are available at any one time.
I third the recommendation of SImplicity Parenting. It is so, so good. It's been a while since I read it - maybe I should check it out of the library again to renew my inspiration to create a peaceful, minimalist play space for DD (22 mos).
We currently have enough toys to fit in probably 4 big Rubbermaid tubs, plus about a dozen "big toys" that have to be dealt with separately. I have two bins and about 3-4 "big toys" in the basement at any one time, and the remainder of the toys are divided between DD's room and the living room. We store the toys in a handful of big wicker baskets that get shoved in convenient corners and/or shelves. It's still too much, though, for our small space. It was looking pretty good around here until Christmas, and that was just a major disaster on the minimalist-toy front. Most of the toys were marvelous wooden things, though, that I couldn't bear to stuff in the basement -- so now we have too much out again. Cyclamen, your description of the toys you have available to your DD was really inspiring. We could totally do that, I know we could.