Why a “Toy Purge” Won’t Work

I LOVE a good toy purge as much as the next mom. But it’s not going to solve my problems.

toy purge

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…

Wait.

Really?

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.

He has removed your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). You are clothed with His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). The Creator of the universe sings over you with joy (Zephaniah 3:17). You are beautiful to Him.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow.

Now that’s simplifying.
When we hyper-focus on physical ways to improve our families we miss an opportunity to point our kids to Christ. It becomes all about the object and not about Him.

Our homes don’t need a dose of the 1950’s – they need the gospel. Simplicity can become an idol. It’s only Christ that can bring peace to a home.
Moms, you’re tired. You’re frustrated by the imperfections you see in yourself, your kids, and your home and you want a quick fix. I know. I’m right there with you.
“Starting tomorrow I’m going to…”
“From now on we’re never going to let the kids…”

“That’s it! We’re getting rid of all the…”

Fix, fix, fix. The more dramatic the change the better, right? We become so obsessed with fixing that we forget – we’ve already been fixed. Once for all. Forever. The God who gave you salvation also gives you daily strength to live within the time and place He put you.

So don’t just get more simple. Get more biblical. Don’t go back to the basics – go back to the Bible. The Bible tells us who we are in Christ. It reminds us of the Giver of all good things. Our kids don’t need toy rations as much as they need to know the God who made them.

Has God placed it on your heart to simplify? Go for it with joy knowing that you are already loved by a great God. Simplify back down to the gospel, not just a tidier house. Pray about it. Make changes that you feel are sustainable for your family so the kids are blessed by your consistency.

Be balanced.

Be discerning.

What works for one mom might not work for your family.

And that’s okay.

Exert your time and energy loving your kids with the gospel. Quiet your own spirit with reminders of His love at the start of each day. Talk to your kids with the same gentleness you’ve been shown by Christ. Teach with a quiet spirit. Discipline with grace. Listen with unwavering patience.

Life isn’t simpler when it’s old fashioned. It’s simpler when it’s about Christ.

***

This article originally appeared at The Gospel-Centered Mom.

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 +.

Comments