When I was a kid, I did jigsaw puzzles sometimes, but usually just when my sister wanted to. She knew, long before I did, the joy and benefit of putting puzzles together. (She continues doing and enjoying them to this day, and I love that for her.)

It was only a half-dozen or dozen years ago that I discovered the benefit of putting together jigsaw puzzles for myself. Putting them together forces you to focus on the task at hand and not worry about other things. It’s a rhythmic, repetitive activity where you are creating something beautiful and/or interesting out of component pieces. There is a feeling of completion when you’re done, and you end up with a final product, one that you can leave out for a while and enjoy, and then put away for next time. (Or, pass it on to someone else, or do puzzle trades among friends or internet people.)

I find that, after I put together a jigsaw puzzle, even though my back hurts, my mind is calmer. It’s great for my stress and anxiety. If I have an entire day to devote to one.

That’s one of the caveats. Putting puzzles together often takes a long time. A lot of the ones I have are 1000 pieces, which can take most of the day if you do them yourself. And it still may take a few hours when you do it with another person. This is problematic in a household with three cats, who love to knock things on the floor and chew cardboard. It’s also a problem when the only good place to assemble a puzzle is your kitchen table. You can’t just stretch the activity over many days.

In our future I’d love a table (not necessarily a gaming table because those are so deep) that has an inset area for puzzles and then a wood panel for the surface. Or maybe I just need a (much more affordable) puzzle caddy like this one from Bits & Pieces.

I’ve reviewed a fair number of puzzles for GeekMom (here are some), to the point where puzzles now fill up a significant fraction of our game closet. But it’s hard to choose what to get rid of when they are all so neat. I should do one again soon.

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