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Cardboard Dollhouse-Making Trumped My To-Do List

{Yes, gulp, that’s my laundry pile! Gratefully, it is all folded and put away now — at least for today!}

I recently joined the MomLife blog team as a monthly contributor. My first post is up today and I thought it would be an encouragement to some of you young moms:

It was Monday morning. My to-do list was massively long, the house was a mess, the laundry pile was enormous, and to top it all off, I was recovering from being sick over the weekend.

I got the children up and fed, bathed, dressed, and helped them do their morning chores. All the while, I was thinking of a fun activity they could do that wouldn’t make much additional mess and would occupy them for at least an hour or two so I could tackle my ever-growing to-do list.

Inspiration struck as I picked up an empty cardboard box. “Hey, children,” I exclaimed enthusiastically, “do you want to make cardboard dollhouses for your little dolls?”

Read the full post.

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  • How did you get started writing there? Are there available opportunities? Do they pay for the posts?

    • Crystal says:

      They approached me about it. It’s not a paid opportunity, but it was something my husband and I felt that God wanted me to do, after prayer and thought.

      I’m also probably going to be speaking at one or two of their conferences next year. I’m excited at the work that FamilyLife is doing for marriages and families and I’m honored to have a small part in it!

      • Janet says:

        I love the fact that we say to younger generation that it is not about being super woman. The time when we were told we could have it all a 60 hour per week job , 7 children at home and a loving husband.
        We could manage and do it all. It seems this time is finally passing and I welcome it. If we wish to raise wonderful , self sufficient , well adjusted children we must spend time with them, if we want a well managed home we need to adjust that too, if we want the loving husband we have to nurture our marriages and take care of ourselves.
        Doing work for the good of the next generation is the best investment ever! Thanks Crystal

  • Tina C says:

    the link isn’t working for me

  • Link finally worked, and I loved the article. While there is responsibility in life that needs to get done, I find myself wasting time and not spending time with my family, which is the most important thing to me. They grow up all too fast, and there will always be laundry. It can wait a day 🙂

  • Kari says:

    My mom made a cardboard dollhouse for my barbies when I was little. It stacked two – three boxes in some places and was about four – five boxes long. It even had an entry was and a garage with a patio on top. I have many, many memories of the numerous hours I sat in my room playing with it. It was by far my favorite toy and completely different from anything my friends had. I’ve always dreamed of making one for my future daughter. I think it’s amazing that you did this, and believe me, your girls will remember for many years to come.

  • michelle says:

    Wonderful way to show your children love with your actions and time.

  • Your laundry pile makes mine look like king kong. lol

  • Heather C says:

    Great reminder of what’s important Crystal! My Grandma always tells that one thing she gained with age was the knowledge that having fun and spending time with your family is far more important than housework and a lot of mundane things that get in the way in our do it all world. It goes by so fast and at the end of your road your not going to be thinking “I wish I had kept my house cleaner” but you may be saying “I wish I had spent more time with my kids” I’m trying to live that mantra, (and my house shows it, LOL…..)

  • For a family of 5, your laundry pile is not so bad!! Thank you for sharing what is really important. These years go by so fast with our littles!

  • Nicki S. says:

    That laundry pile is not massive at all! I consider it a laundry crisis when we can’t see the floor in the hallway anymore. haha.

  • Jennie says:

    Sadly, it took my daughter’s critical health conditions to reach this point. But over the few years, I’ve finally realized that I want my girls to go to bed with a knowledge of Jesus, knowing they are loved, and that today was the best day we could have had.

    • Jenn S. says:

      So true, Jennie! Of course I want well behaved children and a clean house, but most of all I want my family to LOVE Jesus!

  • Bobbi Simmons says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I like my house clean etc..but playing Barbie’s with my girls is a memory we will all have, not how clean the house is.

  • Jenni says:

    Great post – my sister and I still talk about this time where my mom sat down with us and helped us design Care Bear valentines for our class. Even though this wasn’t the norm, it was a significant memory that made us feel overall that “Mom did things with us when we were little.”

  • Tammy says:

    Some one told me to always play with my children when asked because there will come a day when they won’t ask.Either too old or in the doll house they can make the stuff on their own without mommy’s help.Glad you said yes and had fun!

  • Rachel says:

    See. Just another reason I adore you. Pictures of Laundry Madness. I never feel “not good enough” reading your blog. I feel quite at home 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Reminds me of the poem by Ruth Hamilton, which is my very favorite poem at this time in my life with little ones:

    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
    empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

    Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    (lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    (pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    but I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    (lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for this poem! I’m going to post it on my fridge for when I need a reminder of the most important things in life!

  • Maria says:

    Crystal, great post. I think a lot of us can relate! So many times we try and give our children “jobs” while we complete other jobs, all the while forgetting that during these young years of their lives, being with us is the most fun job of all! It is hard to balance it all, but I think your post is a great example of what really must get done!

  • charity crawford says:

    So inspiering great post!

  • Sarah says:

    You summed it up so well in this post! I have that feeling all the time of being torn between housework and spending time with my toddler. Especially being a full time working outside the home mom it is so difficult to keep a neat house, make meals and spend time with my favorite little guy! (I hope to be able to stay home some day, some how and soon!) My messy house overwhelms me but at the end of the day I always feel much more quilty when I haven’t spent the time with my son.

  • Carrie says:

    Something similar happened here recently when my daughter found a cardboard dollhouse project in Family Fun magazine. Knowing that I’m not crafty, they waited until the sitter/mother’s helper was here to work on it with them. Because she’s also my mother’s helper, I was a little annoyed that she got so into it and ended up spending all afternoon on the doll house. There were parts of the afternoon where I’d take a break from work and notice that the girls had gone off to do their own thing and the sitter was working on the dollhouse all alone.
    But in retrospect, my sitter/MH has become a good friend who is going through a lot of difficulties in her life. For all the great help she gives me, I realized that letting her indulge in a little on-the-clock art therapy was a free “tip” I could give her that day.

  • Tara says:

    As a mother that’s a little “further down the road” in mothering, I can tell you that you will NEVER regret that decision. You are in such a busy season of life right now with your children the ages they are, but it doesn’t last forever. (although some days it feels like it does!) I can honestly say the time invested in my girls has been the best investment I could ever have made. You are such a blessing to your children. 🙂

  • UnePetiteEtoile says:

    Your post was delightful!

    Just a wee bit of feedback regarding this statement ~ “I thought it would be an encouragement to some of you young moms” ~ it’s an encouragement to *all* moms!

    I think you’ll see in the coming few years that this will happen with increasing frequency. Whether or not your family grows is in God’s hands, but even if your blessings remained as they are now (which is magnificent!) the demands will increase. I am older than you (42) and my dc’s are 8, 6, 4.5 and 18 months. This year will find me homeschooling grades K, 1 & 3 ~ all very labor-intensive grades as so much one-on-one teaching is required. Then there is the fireball of a toddler brother keeping us on our toes. 😉

    I never would have imagined that this season of life would be more exhausting than my past life as a corporate executive, but it *is.* I pray that more families begin to recognize that our future as a nation depends on the power of *family* and not on outsourcing everything ~ including the development of their children. Your post illustrated just how important a mother is to her children. Bless you!

    • Janet says:

      Also a child lives what he learns at home. So just a small piece of advice
      as I am way older than you and almost all here (60) and have now raised 7 and homeschooled all but highschool years.

      One thing I always concentrated on no matter what no child is ever a
      problem a hassle or a bother. If a child learns poem is a great poem and one we should all take a long look at .
      The psychologist at the high school had it on the wall in her office and said she knew how the teen had it when they were young simply by the behavior presented in her office. She had this in her office to reminder he how to start from basics and teach a child so that they still had a chance as an adult instead of continuing to work on the today problem she went back and fixed the original problem.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you! Fun read and good reminder. You are a rock star sister!

  • Pamela says:

    I want to know where the pics of this brilliant creation are?

    • Crystal says:

      I have a few, but they are super blurry because my daughter took them on my phone the day they made them. And then, get this, they left their dollhouses outside a few weeks ago during one of the two times it rained over the last month. I was so, so sad because it got ruined before we got a decent picture of them. 🙁 But at least we have the memories to hold onto!

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