One day a few years ago, my youngest daughter was complaining that she never received any mail. I tried to explain that she didn’t want the bills and junk mail mommy had to sift through every day but that logic was lost on a 3-year old. As usual, my older daughter came to the rescue with a handmade mailbox that she taped to her little sister’s door, which she promptly filled with “mail.” Of course, receiving mail was no longer sufficient. My daughter also wanted to be able to send mail. Before the end of the week, each of us had a mailbox taped to our bedroom doors and we began sending mail to one another. My youngest son created a comic book series and sent us subscription forms in our mailboxes and now we get regular installments of “Crazy Comics.”
Our family mailboxes are not only a fun and easy way to brighten each other’s day, it’s also a great communication tool for our family. When one of the kids is upset about something but isn’t comfortable talking about what’s bothering them, they will leave a note in a mailbox expressing their feelings. This seems so much healthier than my coping mechanism when I was a kid (silently fuming about it, ignoring everyone in the family, and then stomping around slamming doors much to everyone’s confusion and irritation).
We’ve had so much fun with this idea, I thought I would share it with others. The mailboxes don’t have to be elaborate. My first bedroom door mailbox was a manila envelope taped to my door. Now I use a gift bag. The kids typically create their own from construction paper or paper grocery bags and craft supplies.
As far as WHAT to mail each other, here are some things we have done:
- Notes or letters to one another
- Coupons for free hugs, together time, etc.
- Pictures (sometimes we write on the back to make it seem like a postcard)
- Small gifts (e.g. stickers, temporary tattoos, candy)
- Family newsletter (our kids collaborated on one for a short while)
- Weekly calendar
- Reminder notes
- Handwritten jokes or printed from the computer
- Request forms (I sometimes give these to the kids before I go to the grocery store to get their shopping requests or the night before their birthday for breakfast the next day)
Whether you use these as a fun way to leave little love notes for your child or as a family communication tool, family mailboxes are a simple and inexpensive parenting tool.