Ever Get Tired of Playing with Your Kids?
Of the many parenting dilemmas I’ve encountered since becoming a mom, one of the most unexpected is that I hate playing with my kids. Obviously not all the time and not everything. But there is a particular type of play in early childhood. It often involves things like little plastic toys, doll houses, Barbie cars, or pretend food.
It’s play where your child turns into a little tyrant telling you what to say and how to move “your” doll in their little game. Or serves you endless helpings of plastic food and empty teacups and you’re not allowed to do anything else but sit there and follow their script.
Overall being at home with my kids every day is the greatest joy of my life. But there are some days when my kids asking me to play with them is more nails on a chalkboard than music to my ears.
I can’t be the only mom who feels this way. Right? Anyone? But it’s hard not to feel guilty. We’re supposed to cherish these years. When our kids are little. And they want our attention and time.
It’s just they want so much attention. And they want my attention to involve having them boss me around while I move little plastic dolls around and get screamed at that I’m “doing it the wrong way!”.
I love my kiddos. But dressing up in costumes, crawling around on the floor, or being dictated to as I move little figurines around on the floor makes me want to run screaming into the night.
So, mom guilt. Right? But why!?!?! Do I have to love this stuff to love my kids? Absolutely not. And while I may get sick of playing with my kids that doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend time with them. So I’ve found some easy ways to make playing with my kids easier.
If the idea of playing with your child has you screaming into a pillow, here are some tips to help you enjoy play time with your kid again. Or at least get through it sanity intact.
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What to Do When You Hate Playing with Your Kids
1. Play Something You Don’t Hate Playing with Your Kids
While I don’t enjoy sitting next to my kids while they play dictator, there are plenty of things we do together that I do enjoy. When I want to spend time with my kids but can’t stand another minute of the plastic animal parade, I suggest a new activity.
I love taking my kids outside. We can run around, get some air. I’ll play tag, push them on the swings, go for a walk. It’s all fun. For all of us.
When the weather isn’t optimal for outside play, I invite my kids to choose a book we can read together. Or have them help me make cookies.
Crafts can also be a fun way to spend time with your kids. Especially if you find some craft kits or stickers that allow your kids to take the lead on crafting and you can primarily supervise.
Basically, I suggest you create a go-to list of activities you can do with your child one-on-one that won’t make you bonkers.
2. Invite a Friend to Play When You’re Tired of Playing with Your Kids
Independent play is important and kids should be able to entertain themselves. But sometimes they crave interaction with other people.
When mom and dad are feeling tapped out on play time it can be helpful to arrange for playtime with another kid.
A win-win would be if you have a mom friend with a child of similar age. The kids can play together and you can chat with your friend. Playdate win!
What if Your Child Doesn’t Have a Network of Friends?
If you don’t have a great network of friends for your young child (this was me, almost none of my friends have kids my kids’ age!) consider ways you can network a bit on your child’s behalf.
Does your local library have story time or toddler time activities? Are there always other kids at the park? Does your town have a moms club with regular play dates you could join?
If all of these ideas sound overwhelming, pick one to start with. I sympathize. I’m as introverted as they come. But my kids are not. And we both get tired of me being their only playmate.
Library activities are a great place to start because they are usually free. And often don’t involve anything more than showing up. Same with the park.
If you’re interested in a moms club, check out this moms’ club website to see if there is a chapter near you.
Mom’s clubs can be great because they often have activities a few times every week so even if you can’t make it every time there is usually one or two events you can make work for you.
And when my kids have a chance to spend time playing with other kids and I no longer have the pressure of being my kids’ full-time playmate I have a lot more patience when I do decide to play.
Bonus tip: When there are no little friends available to play with your child, throw Daddy under the bus. That’s right, I said it. I do it all the time. “You need someone to play with, Honey? There’s Dad. He’ll play with you! Yay!”
3. Give In and Play with Your Kids on Your Terms
I really hate to disappoint my kids. When they ask me to play, I do often end up giving in. And having a blast!
No seriously. As I said, it isn’t my idea of fun. But here are some ways to play with your kids and not lose your mind.
Set a Time Limit When You Play with Your Kids
One way to play with my kids and save my sanity is to set a time limit. And I let my kids know up front. I usually max out at about ten to fifteen minutes.
So, I will let my kids know I can play plastic animal party for fifteen minutes but then Mom has to go make dinner. Or run a lap around the house. Or take a nap. Anything that will end play time.
The time limit takes the pressure off me feeling like the game will never end. And often once I help my kids get started playing they will continue even when I have to go start cooking or whatever.
Pick the Right Time for Playing with Your Kids
Giving in to mom and kid playtime works best when I am not staring at a messy house, a sink full of dishes, and a mountain of laundry.
It’s easier to be charmed by my kids’ bossy and demanding style of playing together when the stress of housework or dinner or my lengthy to-do list isn’t breathing down my neck.
Instead of waiting until your bored kids are begging you to play, schedule play time on your calendar. Or have a set time every day when you can play.
When my oldest gets home from school there is about an hour before I need to start preparing dinner. I try to set aside 20-30 minutes of that time to play with the kids one-on-one an activity of their choice.
They know when to expect play time with mom so they don’t become demanding when I’m trying to cook. And it’s a great way for us to reconnect at the end of the day.
Another bonus is that often if you get your kids started with an activity and then need to walk away, often they will keep playing independently if they were having a good time.
When You Hate Playing with Your Kids- Do It Anyway
When I was a kid whenever I had to endure something long, difficult, boring, or otherwise unpleasant my dad would tell me to consider it a patience test. Some days mom life is full of patience tests. (Waiting for your kid to finish pooping anyone?!?!?)
Plus you probably feel guilty for not playing with your kids enough. And the fact that you don’t really enjoy it when you do. So, jump in, relieve your guilt, wipe your conscience. What’s another sacrifice in the name of mom guilt?
But do try to have play time with your kids happen on your terms. Suggest board games, books, or crafts that you might enjoy or that at least allow you to sit down.
Or if plastic animals or playing restaurant are something your kid insists on, set a time limit. You can do anything for 15 to 20 minutes.
Imagine the smile on your sweet kiddo’s face when mom plays with them.
Do You Hate Playing with Your Kids, Mama?
Does anyone else feel like this about playing with your kids? At least some of the time? Or are you all loving it? If you have tips for making playing with your kids more fun, please share them in the comments!