This is what I do when I’m with my children after I get home from work:
I look at them.
And then wait for something to happen so I can react.
I’d like to say I’m a proactive parent; constantly on the floor, playing with them, engaging them, showering them with kisses (although I do attempt this).
But anytime I try to lead Kit in any kind of activity, she rebels and runs away and gets into her own mischief (if she wants me, she’ll bring me something). And if I sit with Sam to work on a drawing or activity, Kit will inevitably need me.
So I’m constantly on defense. Just waiting for the time when I need to bend over and pick something up (how many times a day do you bend over a day to pick up something off the floor as a mother? 25? 50? 100?). Or take something “bad” out of her hands. Or wipe her face. Or the thousands of other caregiving tasks that needs to take place.
Because a set activity is impossible with my children, I find myself futzing around after work, trying not to look at my phone. (Oh my God, I love my phone. How did people parent without their phones??)
So we started doing puzzles. Not kid puzzles (although we’ll do those) but adult puzzles. Usually around 300 pieces or so.
I’m going on record to say putting together a puzzle with two small messy little people in the house is an insane project, because I know you really don’t need any more small pieces of anything lying around. Pieces go on the floor. They go in Kit’s mouth. They get lost in various stacks of paper that seem to accumulate around my house. They get sticky and dirty.
Our puzzles are not very well maintained. So if you the neurotic type, this isn’t the path for you.
But still. It’s so satisfying to have something to occupy my mind and hands a bit while we lull around as a family.
Although the top picture looks like we’ll sit and attempt it together, this rarely happens (maybe on the weekend). Instead, I’ll walk by and take a few seconds to look at it. I’ll find one that snaps into place and feel just a tiny bit of satisfaction (much more satisfaction than I feel when I do the dishes or put away the laundry, that’s for sure). Sam will stop by and I’ll help him and he’ll get excited when he finds the pieces that fit together. Then we’ll wander off to attend to dinner or dishes or Kit (always Kit).
It’s a good family find. So I wanted to share it with you.
Here are the ones we’ve done and recommend. Hard enough that they are fun for adults, with pieces big and sturdy enough that Sam can do it. (The one in the photos is this one which is 500-plus pieces and a bit too hard for Sam, who is 5 — and us — to do in a few days. Smaller pieces. But I like Ceaco puzzles as they seem sturdier and are easier to connect than most.)
Paws & Claws Cats and Dogs Puzzle
Btw: Did you know I have a newsletter? I do. It’s short and funny and has some recipe ideas as well as some links to interesting articles, etc. It’s like The Skimm but for busy, tired parents and women who don’t look a day over 35. I promise you’ll like it.
You can subscribe here. It comes out every Friday.