Ode To Cardboard

We have been spending a lot of time at home. It's been sticky hot and while I've proved I can leave the house with two kids in tow, it still feels like quite an ordeal. Luckily I'm blessed with a toddler who loves to sit and color/paint/draw — but apparently a 2-year-old can only sit quietly so many hours a week.

So on the days when it feels like every toy has been played with and boredom is rearing it's ugly head we try to get back to basics. We cook a meal together, dump a bucket of water in to the baby pool on the balcony and splash around or build a fort and read books in it.

A Great Resource

All those commonplace, yet somehow still novel things that don't cost anything can turn a day around. One of the most versatile and entertaining resources for these creativity-based activities would otherwise be headed to recycling bin: cardboard. You don't really even have to get very creative. I didn't realize how inferior painting was to painting on cardboard! I am so grateful to this brown seemingly-boring stuff for hours upon hours of fun.

Who needs expensive train tracks?The cardboard house in the picture above is one of the more elaborate projects we've done with cardboard — and that took under two hours to make. It was the box the ottoman from our couch came in and I cut out a window and a door, re-enforced the seams with packing tape, poked two holes and strung them with twine for a "doorknob" and painted on some detail. That house was played in daily until it was coming apart at the seams (which I usually just again slapped more tape on).

Making Tracks

Leo's request for "tracks" for his cars and trains was met with drawing a road on a piece of cardboard. We added details like a playground, library, daddy's work, pond, forest, and friends' homes and Leo happily scoots his car from destination to destination. It was supposed to be a tide-me-over until we could find a good deal on some wooden tracks, but he enjoys it so much there may not be a need for an upgrade.

 Cheering the cars racing down the "zoom track"The flat tracks were such a success that I thought I'd go all super-mom and make a ramp that he could roll his cars down. You'd think I got the kid a live pony. He calls it his "zoom track." If I set it up on the couch I can sit and nurse Zoe while still launching the cars for a race while he waits cheering for them at the bottom.

Endless Possibilities

Anything that allows me to nurse while Leo feels like I'm playing with him is a winner these days. This particular piece of cardboard had been many things prior to this incarnation (including a canvas, a garage for the cars and a bridge)

The possibilities with this stuff are endless and usually you can still recycle it when all is said and done. Hopefully things will cool off soon and we can get back outdoors more often, but until then I will be collecting the empty boxes passing through our house.

Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of one and one-on-the-way. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.

Categories: MomSpeak