Take a Puzzle Day

When I was a kid, there was a guy at our church named Poggy.  Yes, Poggy.  He was quite the character.  I will never forget one day after church he was talking to my mom, and he started telling her about his childhood back on the islands in the Caribbean.  He said that every once in a while, his mom would let him stay home from school when he was not sick, and they would sit and do puzzles together all day.  What a great memory!

Well, my kids aren’t in school, so I can’t exactly give them a “puzzle day” just yet, but I plan to!  However, I have a secret to share with you all today:  I took a “puzzle day” of my own last month!  Yup, just me.   Ironically, there were no puzzles involved.  But there was a double chocolate muffin.  And a quiet college bookstore.  And my laptop.  And the best part:  no one knew where I was.

SaraPuzzles2I was having a hard week, and just needed a break.  I got the kids up and got them dressed, and headed to my mother-in-law’s house to drop them off before work.  But, after I dropped them off and got back in my van, I turned the opposite way from my work.  I went to the bookstore, ordered a yummy muffin (all for myself), and found a seat.  I spread out my laptop, with all of my blogging materials, and I escaped.  No work, no class to teach, no kids to chase around or stop from stealing my muffin.  Just me and my thoughts.  As I sat there, I felt a sense of relief flood over me.  I felt my shoulders relax.  I felt my busy-mind start to calm down and focus on the task at hand.  Just one task, not twenty-seven at once.  It was glorious.

No matter who you are, or what you do in a day’s work, everyone could use a puzzle day once in a while.  So, if you are feeling bogged down, over-worked and under-paid, or just plain tired, make a plan.  Maybe you can’t do it tomorrow, or maybe not even next week, but set a date and plan your puzzle day.  Find a fun, safe place for your kids to be, and take a couple hours for yourself.  You will not regret it, I promise!  And you know what? It was kind of like a little adventure, because no one knew where I was! (except my mother-in-law, because I couldn’t bring myself to drop the kids off and tell her I was going to work when I wasn’t)

And if you have kids who are school-aged, you should consider following Poggy’s mother’s tradition of giving your kids a puzzle day once in a while.  His story has always stuck with me, because it reminded me of two important things:

  • Little things make little people happy.  Kids love new toys and going to Chuck E Cheese, but sometimes just a day at home with their mommy is just what they need to make them happy.  As many moms will tell you, kids often love the big box that the new toy came in even more than the actual toy.  In the same sense, a lazy day on the couch with mommy and some popcorn can be just as fun as the amusement park (or maybe even more fun!).  They will grow up so fast, and before you know it, you will need a LOT bigger things to excite them.  But for now, the little things will excite them, so let’s take advantage of that while we can!
  • Missing a day of school won’t ruin their shot at Harvard.  Obviously you shouldn’t keep your kids home from school when they have standardized tests scheduled, or a big project due.  But, if you have their schedules, you can plan ahead (maybe don’t tell them…make it a surprise!) and look for a day where there’s not much going on at school.  I’m pretty sure it won’t ruin their chances at valedictorian, or a scholarship, or success in the workplace.  In fact, it will probably improve their chances, because it will remind them that someone loves them, that someone wants to spend time with them, and that work or school are not the only thing in life (I realize that might not be a point you want to dwell on, but still!).

SaraPuzzles1I hope you all decide to take a puzzle day at some point, either for yourself or to bond with your little ones.  And maybe you could actually do puzzles!  My son would love that!  It would be a great tradition to begin in the family!

Do you ever take a day (or a few hours) to escape?  Where do you go for your “puzzle day”?  Do you ever let the kids stay home for no reason?  What do you do on those days?

Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.


  1. I love this! My mom would do this for us sometimes when we were kids. She knew just when we needed a break and I specifically remember these days as being some of my favorite days of bonding with my mom. I need to plan one for myself very soon. Thanks for the great reminder!

  2. Sara- I love this! I give my kids “personal days” a couple times during a school year. Missing a day doesn’t hurt them but I feel it actually helps them. Even kids need to recharge their batteries every now and then. They think I’m a cool mom and I love having a day with my boys with nothing on the agenda. I cherish these moments as they continue to grow up way to fast! Great post Sara!! 🙂

  3. This post came at exactly the right time… I am so overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done in our new house and everything that needs to be done before the baby gets here and completely exhausted to boot. I don’t think it hit me until yesterday how completely stressed I am! Sounds to me like it’s time for my own puzzle day…

    • Sounds like you need a puzzle day for sure Katie! I was pregnant BOTH times we moved to a new house, so I totally know what you’re going through! You need a break!

  4. When you were little and I worked full time one year I would keep you home on my day off we would snuggle and watch the elephant show you missed several days that year but I cherished those days my little girl

  5. I call these day my “mental health days” and try and do this every so often. I feel like it makes me a better wife and Mom 🙂

  6. Sara, I LOVE this idea!! Can I send my kiddos to your house on my puzzle day?! 🙂 What a great reminder to create memories with our kids AND make time for ourselves!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.