The Indoor Sandbox

As an adult, woman, person, teacher, and parent I have had some terrible ideas and some amazing ideas, some things that have worked, some that have bombed terribly and some that are both good and bad ideas all at the same time.  The indoor sandbox has become one of those ideas.

One day while I was in Michael’s just looking around and I happened across this “play sand” in the discount summer stuff (in the middle of July because you know….summer is already over and back to school/pumpkin spice is starting its approach):

Like a good mom, I have perused Pinterest for ideas to keep the Munchkin entertained that doesn’t involve a screen and have been on the look out for ideas.  On Pinterest I’ve seen tons of things for “kinetic sand” but lets be honest, I am of the mind that sometimes it’s just easier to buy than make and I never have the stuff on hand to make it when I’m a. thinking about it or b. have the time to do it so it’s just not worth the aggravation to try and do things myself sometimes.  Part of the reason I work is so we can afford the nice things in life (like a 2 pound box of play sand….LOL) and to keep my sanity.  I call this a win for everyone…but I digress.

At church, I witnessed the Munchkin playing in a zen garden of sorts that had been made for the children and I thought this might be the answer to my “why can’t my child entertain herself for 5 minutes?!?!” prayers so I decided I’d try to re-create the zen garden at home.  We have a sand table in the backyard but to date it has yet to be filled with actual sand and the summer here was so miserable that playing in the backyard was not all it was cracked up to be at our new house.  I thought this would be a simple, small but with infinite possibilities way the Munchkin could entertain herself in the house.  (Yes, all of this went through my mind in the 5 minutes of finding the play sand at Michael’s….my mind is a very busy and confusing place, sometimes I can’t even keep track.  I literally once said “look bird!” while driving which made my carpool buddy a little nervous, but he’s known me for more than half my life at this point, so he’s kind of used to it.)

Once I decided I was going to make a little, table top sandbox I set out to find a tray that would hold the sand and was able to find one some where else in the store.  Proceeded to the checkout with the arms of coupons and was able to bring it all home for less than $10.

I set it up on a little table in the living room (which has not been finished yet) and waited for the Munchkin to get home so I could unveil my newest creation to her.  It was an instant success:

She loves playing at it, it hasn’t become something she readily does by herself yet but very often she will ask to play in her sandbox.  Sometimes I can leave her and she won’t notice for a few minutes but it is definitely a way we can get the screens off without too much screaming.

She’s only 2.5 years old at this point so we’re in an interesting spot.  I don’t want to hold her back from becoming independent and I definitely want to foster that because sometimes I just need a break (especially during the summer) and I know it’s good for her; however I am fully aware that in a few years she won’t want to play with mommy or daddy anymore and we’ll miss it.  One of the conundrums of parenthood is how to foster growth but cherish the stage you’re at all at the same time.

All in all I think this sounds like a pretty great idea….and then the mess happens:

The Munchkin has yet to understand how to keep the sand in the confines of the tray, especially when she’s using the little plastic sand castle pieces it comes with and I just have to laugh.  The first time she really got some on the floor she ran and got the dust pan and brush and tried sweeping it up herself, which of course got her nowhere but I wasn’t about to discourage her cleaning up.

So far, this has been my best worst idea I’ve ever had in the parenting realm (don’t worry, I know I have plenty more coming).  I love that she gets to be creative, gets her hands “dirty”, isn’t sitting in front of a screen (no matter how educational PBS can be, I’m still not down with her watching too much of it most days), and at this point we’re spending some quality time together making sand castles.

If you ever come to my house, know that you will be welcomed in whatever state you come in; we’ll hang out, relax, and try not to take it all too seriously while trying to support each other through this life.  But please don’t ever come in expecting my house to be perfect and if you’ll judge me for the messy house, the (clean) laundry that hasn’t made it to being put away yet, the dishes in the sink, or the sand on the floor then you can turn around and walk back out.  I have always wanted a house that was lived in, that was a place of comfort, imperfection, mistakes, and messes.  I do believe we can be “too clean” and I do believe that holding ourselves to impossibly high standards is detrimental to ourselves, our relationships, and our families.  My house is clean enough 90% of the time (a little a day goes a long way to keeping it that way with little stress) and it doesn’t smell.  If you can stand some sand on the floor, some chalk in the air and maybe a few fur ball tumbleweeds, you are welcome to be here and you’ll be in good company.

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