Why a “Toy Purge” Won’t Work

If there is one thing my life is not right now it’s: simple. It might seem simple to the outside observer. Take care of the kids and the home? Simple.

Except it’s not.

Something as simple as walking into the kitchen to make lunch is kind of like cracking a dam. All of a sudden the toddler has to use the big boy potty. The baby is making a beeline for the lego towers. The five-year-old wants me to glue the tail back on his plastic scorpion and the four-year-old just dumped the play dough toys where I was about the serve lunch. On top of that my brain is spinning with the new articles I read on Facebook about 10 memories you must make with your kids before they turn five. Oops, guess my oldest already missed out. Then I realize I only have two of the seven ingredients I need for the Pinterest “pepperoni pizza in the waffle iron” recipe I was going to make. Make lunch? Well, it was a nice thought.

As moms we are constantly thinking, “What can I do to make this easier?” We look around our homes and the wheels start turning. “It’s the stuff. It’s the internet. Donna Reed never had these distractions. It’s all got to go!”

Don’t you sometimes wish you could transport your family back in time? When the stress starts to build we long for “old fashioned.” You know, before Pinterest, Facebook, Netflix, angry birds…when kids played with sticks and respected their parents…when husbands and wives never fought…when everyone was healthy and godly and it was so easy to raise wholesome Christian kids…



I have to catch myself when I start romanticizing about the good ‘ol days. The truth is there are no good ‘ol days. Sin is a lot older than the internet. Kids have always rebelled. Discontentment was not a new invention created by Pinterest and Facebook.

And yet we still try to rid our homes of sin by first ridding them of stuff. The trend to simplify is sweeping through this generation of new moms. Minimalism is so tantalizing. The “Tiny House” movement is attractive and mysterious. A few articles have circulated recently about throwing away all your kids’ toys. I’ve read the articles and I was encouraged by the practical advice. Simplifying is a beautiful thing.

But…simplify down to what? Does getting rid of stuff make us magically happier? If we read those articles through the lens of “here’s-how-to-fix-my-family” we miss the point. Instead we go to extremes. Extremes never fix the problem. They do, however, make it a lot easier for kids to rebel. If your kids are struggling with contentment, throwing out all their toys circumvents the problem. It’s a Band-Aid on a broken leg.

It doesn’t address the heart.

Cleaning out our homes without cleaning out our hearts is a form of works righteousness. It gives us another reason to pat ourselves on the back. We begin mentally logging how many hours our kids play outside. Every minute they spend playing in the dirt instead of with electronics is another check mark on our “Good Mommy” chart. As soon as we rip the iPad out of our kids’ hands we feel we’ve completed our task. What usually follows is smugly comparing ourselves to other moms who aren’t as wholesome as we are.

We resolve to kick the stress of discontentment out of our lives by shutting down our Pinterest and Facebook accounts. But turning off stress is not as simple as turning off the computer. Our stress comes from within. It comes from a weak grasp on the gospel.
Inevitably, when we can’t keep up with our own standards, it breaks our spirits and zaps our energy. We’re left weaker and more lost than before.

Sisters in Christ, do you want to simplify? Let’s simplify:

Jesus Christ loves you.

Sara Wallace
Sara Wallace
Sara Wallace is a Jesus-loving wife and mom of four little boys. She spends her busy mom days homeschooling her kiddos in the backwoods of Idaho and clinging to grace. She explores how the power of the gospel equips us for this sticky, messy, heart-wrenchingly beautiful battle called motherhood at her blog, The Gospel-Centered Mom. For more from Sara, you can also check her out on Facebook and Google +.

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