A Lesson Learned: Locking Away the Toy Box

A few weeks ago, Prince Charming and I made a decision. We were locking the toy box up in the storage room. With all the toys in it.

We didn’t do this as a punishment or to put a damper on their creativity. We did it because the toys were coming between the boys.

For the week prior to this decision, we had endured battle after battle after battle with these boys. Little Brother is going through a very possessive stage and Big Brother is going through a bit of an antagonistic stage. The mix of these two ‘stages’ manifested itself in what seemed like World War III breaking out in our house every 2 minutes.

We isolated what specifically was causing the problems with the boys. The toys were the culprit.

Into the storage room they went.

And that is where they still are today, except for the hot wheels. And our house has been amazingly peaceful ever since.

We want our boys to know that their relationship with each other is much more important than material things. We had tried nearly everything to get them to share, take turns, etc…it just wasn’t working. Extreme measures had to be taken to preserve the unity in our house.

This is true for our own lives as well. Whenever something comes between us and our relationship with God and our family members, we must cut the ties. We must prioritize the things in our lives that matter and cut out (or lock away) the things that bring disunity in our households.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:21

What is it in your life that is coming between you and the things in your life that really matter? Is it the constant desire for more or better “things”? Is it a discouraging friendship? Television? Too much time on the internet (sheepishly raising my own hand, here)? Shopping?

All of us have something. And just like we did with that toy box…we need to isolate the problem and lock it up. Then, maybe we can find peace and unity in our hearts (and in our homes).


  1. I needed to read this today, thanks for the reminder, it’s really hard to let things go sometimes, it takes stepping back to see what really matters!

    1. Wow, how brave you all were. Thank you for sharing this with us. I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for the time and effort you put into honest post like this.

  2. Amen . Just what I needed to read.. I need to stay away from technology. :( Internet . Cell phone computer n tv are taking the spotlight lately . We need this change in our home

  3. Yup! I needed that. We often give toys a “time out” at our house if they’re causing a problem.

    But yes, we as adults need to remember to put things away if they’re distracting us from our top priorities.

  4. The funny thing is, my kids don’t really play with their toys in the summer since they are running around outside. They still fight, but the fighting is MUCH more intense when we get new toys, and they both want to play with them. I never thought of just taking the toy away temporarily! What a good idea! PS What is your plan for all the new toys they will be getting for Christmas?

  5. Wow!!!!! This really blessed me today. We did something very similar years ago and it really helped them learn to play better, to clean and manage their toys, and also to build their bonds. Thank you for reminding me (we may need another intervention), and also showing that other families are human and make big decisions looking at the long term outcome. Thanks!!!!!

  6. So refreshing to read. We are dealing with a similar battle….except our battle involves the cars. Not hot wheels, but cars character cars. Good perspective to think of this as a stage, I have been struggling with lots of questions about my parenting…ie…what am I doing wrong that makes my kids fight? I may have to put away all of the cars until after christmas as well. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Whenever our girls fight over a toy it just gets taken away too. Not all of them. Just the culprit at the moment. It seems to work.

    But, the rest of the post made me think about Mark 9:43-47 where it says that if one of your limbs offend thee it is better to cut it off then go to hell. Or, that it’s better to completely cut off our temptations so that we don’t sin.

  8. My older 2 boys are 8 and 5 (almost 6)…..this summer we were having the very same problem! So after a few attempts to get them to see that they were not being very nice to each other and that it wasn’t okay I also took their toys. I allowed them to keep one thing each, they both took a favorite stuffed animal to sleep with. They went into my room and they had to earn them back. I specifically staged games and activities where they had to cooperate, be creative, be kind to each other, etc. and they could earn toys back. If I saw something extra I would reward them with 1 toy as well. It took them over 2 months to earn their toys back and it did help. I also used that time to purge toys and put keepers in storage for their 1 year old brother who will want them someday to play with some day. Our favorite game (which they still ask to do for fun). I put them into a zip up hoodie I have with one arm out for each and tied their legs together (3 leg race style). I put a box of toys on one side of our long living room and an empty box on the other. They had 5 minutes to transfer the toys the wanted together. The fell 1 time and laughed. My very clever 5 year old on the second trip convinced his older brother to move the entire full box of toys to the other side of the room and dump it into the empty box.

  9. I appreciate how you bring a spiritual lesson in something that is every day in our life. God is so great at always teaching us.

    We did a similar thing a while back with our oldest. His lesson was stewardship. He wouldn’t pick up his toys or would just trash them around. So, they went away for 2 days (hard work those days for me!) After each day, he would earn a toy back. If he did well taking care of what he was given, we gave him more. Each time we explained the parable of the tallents. It worked…at least for a time :)

  10. Thanks for sharing. I found your blog via moneysavingmom.com. I’m really enjoying your posts. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to get to the root of issues.

  11. What I love most about this post is that you have so clearly decided what is most important, and make all other decisions based on that. We probably all know what we want at the core of our families, but we don’t all do so well at actually MAKING it the core. I also really appreciate how well you bring your testimony into your posts. It’s obvious it’s really who you are and not a persona you’re putting on for your blog. Many thanks!

  12. great thoughts and reminder- thank you so much! I love visuals like this to help teach a lesson or principle,makes it so much easier to understand

  13. We’ve had a similar issue with our two girls. Fortunately it’s only over specific toys because our solution has been the same as yours – put it away. Life has been MUCH quieter since we put the toy strollers into the garage – you’d think having two would solve the issue, it didn’t. Apparently one stroller was better than the other…

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