One year the Easter Bunny must have been struck by lightning, or at the very least, she was feeling kind of crazed by being homebound. As a result, the Easter Bunny designed a treasure hunt with clues in the eggs. The kids followed the clues to find their hidden gift from the Bunny. They loved it. As the years progressed, the puzzles became harder and harder. Last year the puzzle was a multi-fold challenge that took the kids 2.5 hours to solve. It was a crossword puzzle with the individual clues stuck in the eggs. The clues were about Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods, something my kids are familiar with thanks to the works of Rick Riordan and others. In addition, the number parts of the clues were math problems adding a second layer of difficulty to the puzzle. After they finally finished it, my daughter asked in exasperation, “Can’t we just do a jigsaw puzzle again next year?”
One of the things I always make sure to do is create a puzzle that is collaborative. There's no competition, and if the kids don't work together, they can't solve the puzzle. When my twins were only a few weeks old and I was spending most of the day trapped under a twin nursing pillow, I read the book Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. The book was life-changing for me. It clarified for me how my parents had done so many things to pit my brother and me against each other. I knew I wanted something very different for my children. Hence, my ex and I have always worked to make sure our kids see our family as a unified team, not a competition, from birth onward. As you can see from the picture above, once the kids pull their clues out of the Easter egg, they put them into a combined bowl and solve them together, each filling out a copy of the puzzle. Crossword puzzles can be easier when you have three brains to use instead of just one!
We also started a tradition when the kids were little that I wrote their names in paint pen on the majority of the eggs. That way each can only pick up 1/3 of the eggs since they can't take eggs without their name on it. It means they end up helping siblings find eggs that they've missed, too. I've since seen a suggestion to use one egg color for each kid; that sounds like an easier solution than the one I'd worked out! It keeps Easter from being a bitter competition about who can collect the most eggs, though it certainly doesn't cut down on the chaos and fun around here!
Easter is a lot of fun for my kids and me. We continue to celebrate despite the fact they are ages 12, 14 and 14 this year. The puzzles are a firmly entrenched tradition for us, one that I half expect my children to want me to continue into their adult years. I suggested a few years ago that we might stop, and my children were horrified at the idea. I’m actually glad. I have to admit I look forward to it, too.
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC