Guess what else I have? A cardboard box that came with that dishwasher.
Guess what I did with that bad boy? I made a ‘door’ in it and put it in the living room for my kids so they could play with it.
My kids love cardboard boxes. We had a box they turned into playhouse. I would hand the girls a pile of stickers and crayons and tell them “have fun.” It got a little harder to play when William was learning to walk because like all kids, he loved to eat crayons! (As a side note thankfully I only had one kid that liked to eat stickers…..)
The girls played for weeks in one particular cardboard box that once contained a gas fireplace. We cut a window in it and after playing I would let them watch TV from their box. For Christmas one year they even got a super cool cardboard castle and the next year a cardboard rocket ship. Talk about days of fun!
Lately, we have been playing with smaller cardboard boxes from the grocery store. They turn into space helmets, masks, and at times, creative ways to annoy siblings. And Casey got to experience his first giant cardboard box last week. He was adorable walking in and out through the door. Unfortunately, he too eats crayons so I haven’t been able to let them color on it, but the other morning after I got him out of his crib he was playing with his sisters in the box. I think they were pretending he was a baby doll or a puppy dog, but nonetheless, he was playing with them!
As I watch them play with the box, I think of the countless, and by countless I mean, ‘if I had a quarter for every time I heard this story’ kind of story about kids in cardboard boxes. You know the basis: Parents spend a stupid amount of money for an AMAZING toy. Kid plays with the cardboard box longer than the toy. I think it is a rite of passage for this to happen to parents and kids.
It reminds me of one thing I learned a long time ago: keep it simple.
Kids love to play and have fun. They love being someplace where they are loved and can have fun. Give them a cardboard box or an empty room and they can find something to do! Of course there is a time for complicated toys, big trips and expensive or complicated anything. (I experienced all of those at one point in time growing up.) But we have to remember that sometimes our kids need simple. They simply need a cardboard box, a trip down the road for an ice cream cone, and nothing expensive at all.
Life is full of times that are not fun. There are times of tears and pain. Your kids will learn this soon enough if they haven’t already. So let them play a little longer with the cardboard box. Eventually the box will fall apart and they will go play with the toy it came in or have to help load the dishwasher that it once housed. They will have to grow up, they will have to move on. They will one day remember the simple fun of playing in a cardboard box.
Let them and love them. It is that simple.