The Simple Thing that Changed our Summer {and it could change yours too}

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A few weeks ago, I bought a puzzle on a whim. I opened up the box and sorted pieces into “edges” and “middles” on my dining room table and then walked away.
 
The puzzle sat untouched for about a week, until one day, I paused as I walked past and clicked a couple if the edge pieces together. Her curiosity piqued, my oldest wandered over and sat down and began helping me form the frame. A few minutes later my youngest snuck into the project and started piecing together some middles. We chatted and amicably worked on the puzzle for another 20 minutes or so. I don’t remember why we stopped… it may have been time for dinner or perhaps we had to leave the house for some reason. The point is we paused and went about our day with our project also paused for the time being.
 
 
Over the course of the next week, we would all graze on the puzzle. I snapped in some pieces here and there. Both girls would sit down from time to time independently to work and sometimes they would solicit each other’s presence and work together. My husband even found himself adding a piece or two spontaneously when we would drift in from work. When one person would sit down to work, more often than not, the rest of the family would join. 

The puzzles have become summer magic for our family.

Puzzles are simple, old-fashioned, non-tech fun that also provide a challenge and mental stimulation. The unexpected side-effect is the unity that resulted from the family engagement and cooperation… that happened without any effort at all. Since the completion of that first puzzle I have continued setting up new ones on the table for our family to complete and surprisingly, the magic is holding strong.
 
Generally, I struggle with clutter on the surfaces in my house, but I am grateful for the puzzle pieces strewn across the table top. And in a life of overscheduled days, I am beyond grateful for the little pockets of puzzle time I am finding in my days with my girls. I love that they carry no expectations. We work on them until they are done… whenever that may be. And while we do sometimes pop a couple pieces in on our own, we always finish them out together. 
 
Tonight, my youngest, on the heels of finishing our most recent puzzle only yesterday, asked me if I would take a few minutes to get our next project set up on the table before I made dinner… a request I happily obliged. Who knew the magic of summer would come in the form of a 300 piece puzzle?

I know that puzzles won’t be magic for everyone, but if you find the idea intriguing, I do have a couple learnings from this process to pass along.

  1. The puzzle should be challenging, but not frustrating. We are doing 300 piece puzzles with my 7 & 8-year-old right now because we generally can’t complete them in one sitting, but they don’t take so long to finish that the kids lose interest.
  2. We have really been loving the Vivid Collection and Ravensburger brands.
  3. Pick a place where you don’t have to clean up the pieces… the beauty is in allowing it to be an ongoing work in progress!

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