The Tightened Fist (House Diet #2)

With my parents visiting, I decided it would be a great time to tackle the annual (and sometimes biannual) toy cull.

Usually, I do this on my own while the kids are sleeping. My method is to lay out all the toys on the floor, in their sets. Then decide from there which ones to give to the op-shop and which ones to keep and divide them up into our four toy boxes. (We have a system where we rotate these four boxes of toys, so that they get to play with one box for a week or so. It’s less mess to clean up at the end of the day, and keeps them interested in the toys.)

My kids have always been too young (and with too many toys) to really remember any toys that “go missing”, so this has worked quite well. But my daughter is now at an age where she is really remembering and becoming attached to certain toys. So when a friend on facebook (thanks Soph!) said that she gets her kids involved in toy culls, I decided to take the plunge and give it a try.

Well, it only took me about five minutes to regret that decision…

The kids had been briefed, the toys spread across the floor, and they began happily playing with them, flitting from toy to toy as they remembered how much they loved each and every one.


Toy chaos before a previous year’s cull.

Oh dear, I thought, they are not going to want to part with anything.

Sure enough, my daughter started gathering up her favourite toys – as many as her little arms could carry – and walking towards her room.

“Wait a minute,”I said to her. “I want you to put those toys back on the floor. First, you need to choose one toy to give to the op shop, so another child can enjoy it.”

Her fists grasped more tightly around her most treasured items and tears started to well up in her eyes.

“But I want my toys, Mummy,” she said softly.

I could see her internal struggle. I could relate to it.

She knew we needed to give away some toys – was even happy to do so! – but she wanted to make sure her favourites were safe first. And because she was grasping onto her treasures so tightly, she was unable to use her mind or her hands to choose which toys to give away.

In some ways, it seemed so ridiculous that she could have so many toys spread across the floor, and yet, be unable to take her eyes off her favourites for a few minutes to give some away…

But looking at her, mother to child, I wondered if this is often how we look to God…

I wonder if it seems equally ridiculous to Him when we put so much time and effort into securing our material possessions – even just the “necessities” for our own families – that we can’t look away for two minutes to see how much we have and give some of it away to others.

I wrapped my arms around my daughter, and helped her to put the toys on the floor.

“You will get to choose some toys to keep soon, darling. You don’t have to give them all away. But you have a lot of toys, and first I want you to choose one toy, and go put it in the bag for the op shop. Then you can come and choose one to keep.”

She wiped away her tears and picked up a toy for the op shop bag. Pretty soon, she was happily going to and fro across the room, gathering up armfuls of toys and taking them to the op-shop bag. (A certain quantity of these had to be “rescued” from the op-shop bag, as they were her brother’s…) Her collection of favourites lay on the floor where she had dropped them.

We filled up three grocery bags of toys and books, and she wanted to keep going! I told her that would be enough, and she could now go and choose some toys to keep.


House Diet Challenge 2

Is there some treasure in your life that you have been clinging onto for security, that may be preventing you from being generous? Are you so focused on securing your favourite things, that you don’t see the abundance you actually have?

Unclench your fist, lay down the treasures, and give away some of the excess.

(Alternatively, you could also do a toy cull and involve your kids.)


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?


4 thoughts on “The Tightened Fist (House Diet #2)

  1. Thanks for sharing, Elspeth. It’s great to hear from mums who are further along the path.

    I find it fascinating that so many of us seem to do toy culls/purges. The problem of too much stuff really is widespread!


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