Puzzle time

There are copious laments out there about time wasted scrolling around on social media. Ironically, many of these laments are posted on social media, because places like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer an easy way to connect with people facing similar woes.

An added bonus: these sites are almost perfectly designed to fill low energy time. We all have these minutes (sometimes hours) where we’re not going to sleep, but we’re also not going to do much else. We’re certainly not getting up and going anywhere. We want something at least semi-pleasant and not that challenging. TV works. And so does social media. So it winds up filling a big chunk of potential leisure time.

In analyzing my own time, I realize I’m not too worked up about this. Yes, I seldom find much worth reading online. On the other hand, I’ve genuinely enjoyed scrolling through some Instagram posts of gorgeous interior design.

But I do think there’s something to be said for figuring out something more constructive that could fill this time. Reading works, though it can’t be too challenging reading. I’m in a bit of a reading rut at the moment on books. I have been reading The Economist cover to cover, which has been more enlightening than Twitter insults. And I’ve also rekindled my love for something else that fills this time quite well: puzzles!

Yes, I love jigsaw puzzles. I’d purchased a fair number of 200-piece Crocodile Creek puzzles for my kids over the years. This tends to be a good size (and Crocodile Creek puzzles tend to be reasonably well made). With a child helper or two I finish in about 45 minutes, creating a sense of accomplishment. So a few months ago, I elected to purchase three new 200-piece puzzles from the series: a princess castle, a map of Asia, and a map of the world featuring dinosaurs.

Then I saw that Crocodile Creek makes 500-piece puzzles. So I elected to purchase two of these: a safari scene, and a floral montage.

These have been more complex. They take several hours to get through, usually spread over multiple days. But I’ve been enjoying sitting down with my tea at night and figuring out where another 100 pieces go.

Another discovery: We rarely use the dining room table for formal eating occasions. So I now think of my dining room as the puzzle room. Perhaps this is not the most efficient use of space (some of my kids think that another bedroom might have been preferable) but it acknowledges reality.

What do you do during your low energy time?



13 thoughts on “Puzzle time

  1. I read but most of what I read is very enjoyable. I’m not in the season of life where I can handle a book that I have to work to get into. That may change when I don’t have a toddler! I usually read for the last 60-90+ minutes of the day as it’s my favorite way to unwind.

    We put a 1,000 piece puzzle together this winter, though, and that was very fun. I hosted a ‘puzzle party’ for my birthday and told people to drop by in the afternoon for snacks/drinks and some puzzle fun. We didn’t get a lot accomplished during the party but my husband and I enjoyed working on it in the evenings after the toddler was in bed. I’m hoping our son loves puzzles as much as I did as that’s an activity I’d enjoy as much if not more than he does when he’s older!

  2. I’m a big puzzle fan, too! My husband and I usually have one going on a side table in the family room. We also always plan to bring one on vacation, to the beach house we rent with my husband’s family. (Although I’ve learned that my husband likes super challenging puzzles, like the 2,000 piece one he picked out that was at least half black and dark purple ocean and sky…)

    I also like reading and I’ve found it helpful to have books that I’m reading all over the house, so if I feel like I need a break for a few minutes I’m more apt to pick up a book than my phone. So I usually have one in the family room, one in the living room or kitchen, and one in my bedroom. Knitting is another low-energy activity for me, once I’ve gathered the pattern, yarn and needles.

    1. @Anon- I don’t know – I think someone gave us a Crocodile Creek one many years ago and I felt like the pictures were good and the pieces had enough tooth not to fall apart easily. They have a smaller line than Ravensburger, though, so you’re less likely to find Crocodile Creek in your average store.

  3. The New York Times recently launched a new puzzle called “Tiles” that I have become totally addicted to. I stick with the free version (which apparently was recently downgraded from 6 free plays to 4 :sadface:) for now because I’m cheap (and I guess it’s my own little rebellion since I already am a full, paying subscriber to the Times digital edition and am reluctant to pay *more*) but otherwise it’s a calming, low-energy way to wind down after a long day. It’s better than TV and almost meditative.

  4. I’ve finally just donated a stack of floor puzzles from my kids’ toddler days. One game my oldest and I played *a lot* with the floor puzzles was Speed Puzzle — we’d each take a floor puzzle and see who could put theirs together first. Not super creative, but made doing the same puzzle over and over again a little more fun.

    We only have one eating-at table, so finding space for a family puzzle is something I’ll have to ponder — maybe I can sacrifice my cutting table in the basement, since I’m not sewing right now, and the sewing space shares a room with the play space. I do love jigsaw puzzles!

  5. I would kind of like to take up jigsaw puzzles again… but I have a cat. For a big puzzle that would take more than one sitting, we’d need to get one of those puzzle keeper things that lets you roll up the puzzle when you’re not working on it.

    1. @Rebecca- Hmm… I hadn’t thought about that. I might add that to my arguments against getting a cat (some members of my family ask…)

  6. If I’m not going to read, I’m playing my guitar. I Have an old guitar that was given to me that I keep in my trunk and can take out while waiting for my kids to finish practice or a Cub Scout meeting. I keep one at work that I sometimes play during lunch to get a break from the computer. When I practice at home I play what I know if I’m tired and don’t have energy. When I’m more alert, I’m learning something new.

  7. I am a big fan of using rooms in the house for what you want. We currently have a “building” room in what would be our formal dining room. We have a small table in there that we do puzzles on. The room also houses our legos and magnatiles and the kids use it a lot. I think it bugs my husband a bit that we aren’t using the room for its intended purpose, but the room gets used much more this way.

    I only enjoy puzzles as a way to hang out with the kids. We do the 300 piece ravensburger ones. When I am tired, I usually read, play a board game with my husband if he is home, let my kids show off for me while I sit on the couch (they love this and I feel like I am doing something sort of productive that requires no energy), or I scroll twitter.

  8. I took your advice to use the kindle app on my phone to read instead of mindlessly scrolling. I got through a whole book on a train ride like that! Taking up my phone is so natural for me and I always go to Instagram. But I recently deleted a lot of accounts I followed (inspired by Sarah’s blog post!), so Instagram isn’t as interesting anymore. Having something else on my phone is very helpful and also I get to read what I’ve been wanting to read!

  9. I love puzzles, too, though I only do one or two a year. I enjoy a little Instagram at night when I’m too tired to do anything else. I also read every chance I get, and have multiple books on the go so that there’s almost always something I feel like reading available. Magazines are good for that, too. And Pinterest! Yikes, Pinterest. That can be either good or bad!

  10. I like to crochet during these low energy times although I do love a good jigsaw puzzle. Hmm, where can I create my puzzle room?

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