DIY felt animal puzzles

In less than a month we are leaving for vacation! Yessss!  This is especially exciting for me because I had to stay home from the last one due to being four months pregnant and going somewhere touched by the Zika scare.  I stayed home and “focused on unpacking the house”, also known as; reading all my friends text messages and crying. The boys had a blast, one of my best friends got married, and I missed them so much it hurt.  This time around, it is all of us, and we are going to have an amazing time!  Now imagine me having ten cups of coffee after two nights without sleep and saying that, you get the idea.  We all know that having an amazing trip is never guaranteed, and probably far from reality.  To start off with, we are driving.  ALL THE WAY THERE.  Roughly 12 hours in drive time to the beach.  TWELVE.  Jaxon has made this trip before, but he was only about 2.5 months old.  Even then, after sleeping the majority of the way, he wasn’t super keen on being in a car seat that long.  Now that he is an antsy, anxious toddler I know I have a lot more to worry about.  It’s a struggle to get him to sit still throughout a family meal, let alone trapped in a car seat for, just in case you missed it, 12 hours.

To curb a little bit of the “Are we there yet” screaming, we are leaving in the middle of the night to catch the most of the kids bed time.  We also broke down and bought a kids kindle.  I’m not typically huge on screen time, but I can’t say I am against it either.  To be honest he never showed an interest in needing or wanting one so we have just kinda floated through the days not thinking about it all.  Although with this being such a huge trip, anything I can do to help us get through it, I am going to do.

The number one priority in a vacation is always making it fun for the kids, and this trip is definitely for the kids, but let’s be real, it’s also for us adults.  After all, we are the ones paying for it.  Plus, no cleaning? No cooking (every meal at least)? Lounging on a beach? That is all for us.  In the spirit of making this trip a vacation for all of us, our first step is to make even the basic of things relaxing.  The goal? To be able to go out to dinner and not feel like I am going to have a panic attack every other time Jax loses interest in whats going on in front of him.  I know, I dream big.

With the goal being set, I have been spending a good portion of time trying to think of how I can make it a reality.  One thing I am trying to put together are what I am calling my “distraction packs”.  They are basically zip lock bags full of anything and everything to keep the kids busy if needed while we are out and about.  They are packed with coloring books and crayons, I Spy books, Playdoh, all kinds of random but quiet things that could come in handy.  My most creative distraction pack so far is filled with these little felt puzzles we have been working on this week.

One of Jaxon’s favorite things to do right now are puzzles, so if anything can keep him occupied, this is it.  The fun thing about making your own is that they can be tailored to your kids and as simple or complex as you want them to be.  Our puzzles are all of Jaxon’s favorite animals.  They can be put together to create the animal, or switched around to make a funny hybrid.  Most of the animals are made up of four parts: a circle for the head, a pair of eyes, a mouth, and ears.  There are also a couple that are completely different like the bird or the octopus, but both still have multiple parts to put together.

All you need to make these adorable little guys is felt, scissors, and a hot glue gun.  Does it get simpler than that?  The circles are cut out of 4in x 4in square pieces of felt from a set that I got off amazon.  In my opinion, this is the way to go when it comes to felt because it is more durable, less fluffy, and comes with what seems like a zillion colors.  There are enough different colors and shades to make whatever theme or creation you can come up with!  Although in full disclosure, even if you try your hardest to make an adorable animal themed puzzle, your son may go completely rogue and start puzzling together all sorts of creatures and monsters.  We have seen some very interesting creations over here!