“Mommy, let’s play to-geth-er!”- It was after dinner dishes were cleaned up and it had been a long day at work.   Now my three year old little boy was pleading for me to be his playmate instead of sink into the couch, which is honestly what I wanted to do.  I looked at his little face and remembered how fast time flies raising kids and, reluctantly climbed into the shipping box that had been his favorite toy all week.

Isn’t it funny how you can buy all the toys in the world and kids will choose the plain brown box to play with until it is completely worn out? I scrunched my knees to my chin and somehow just fit in the box while my husband, Sam’s favorite playmate ever, smirked from across the room at the sight of me crammed in a shipping box.  Sam fit just between my feet in the box and grinned like we were on the best adventure ever.

I grabbed up the sides of the box and told Sam to start counting down to lift off. “10, 11, 5, 4, 2, 1!” he called looking expectantly at the ceiling. I wiggled and shook the box like we were lifting off to the stars in search of aliens and we explored Sam’s imagination of a space trip with mom and I got to be like a superhero to my little boy.

Science continues to tell us exciting things about space and the world around us- including how young children’s brains develop. Did you know that family bonding and play has been shown to actually stimulate brain growth and development enhancing early learning including influencing how a child will behave in relationships as an adult?  The time spent in a rocket ship adventure with mom in a box in the living room of our house will have a huge impact on how Sam learns and grows as a citizen of this world.

Modern life has so many demands on parents and it can sometimes feel like we just can’t juggle it all especially in the early years of child rearing where sleep is a commodity of highest value and none of seem to be getting enough. It occurred to me after that evening with Sam how great it feels to forget being a grown up in the moment and play but also how great it feels knowing that taking that time also means a better future for my little boy. Even better, all it took was a brown shipping box to make that memory together.

It doesn’t take a ton of time, money or even the crafty gene to have some imaginative play time with your preschooler at home or even out and about, but both of you will benefit from the time together now and in the future. Here are some ideas for low cost and accessible imaginative play to enhance your family bonding time this weekend from notimeforflashcards.com and check out Sesame Street in Communities for free family bonding coloring pages, videos and ideas.