What to Do When You Hate Playing with Your Kids. Or your tired of playing with your kids and need a break or some new ideas for playtime.

What to Do When You Hate Playing with Your Kids

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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.

When Your Hate Playing with your kids

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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Related: Ending Mom Guilt: 23 Things to Stop Feeling Guilty About Now

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.

Games for when you hate playing with your kids

When the weather isn’t optimal for outside play, I invite my kids to choose a book we can read together. Or have them hblankelp me make cookies.

As they’ve gotten older, board games have become a fun way to play together where we can all have fun. For toddlers and preschoolers, I like the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game, Candy Land, and Hiss

As they get into the early school years Mancala is fun or Connect Four and Sorry. 

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!

Hate playing with your kids? These tips can help! Stop feeling guilty and start enjoying time with your kids more.

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!

Check Out These Other Posts You May Like:

Ending Mom Guilt: 23 Things to Stop Feeling Guilty About Now

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Moms’ Picks: Best Big Toys for Little Kids

What to Do When You Don’t Like Playing with Your Kids

Sick of playing with your kids? Check out these tips for when you hate playing with your kids and want to enjoy spending time with them more.

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19 thoughts on “What to Do When You Hate Playing with Your Kids”

  1. Yes, I hate playing with my three-year-old. This article helped. Stuck with him 24/7 during the pandemic. I’m glad to know I’m not alone nor destroying him for telling him it’s “play alone time.” I’m trying to get play time together down to only two one hour sessions per day. Also, I know screens aren’t all the rage to be suggesting since kids get enough, but I can stand playing games on his tablet with him. One thing that has helped him quiet down and leave me be is allowing him to navigate his tablet and pick shows. If not I’m human channel changer every 1 to 20 minutes. And 20 minutes would be abnormally long.

    Thanks again for the article.

  2. Yes, I hate when I have to sit on the floor and then stand again, I get so tired, everything else I can do, thanks for your ideas and for the help with the guilt

  3. Oh goodness how I can relate to all this! Love my kids to tears but playing dolls gets so boring after like 5 minutes. With four kids, they are fairly good about playing with each other and I’m with you- I tend to suggest a book or activity over about everything else. These are great tips to bookmark for later 😉

  4. Not just you! I had more so they could all play together, but now I have to play the role of referee, lol! Some things I can play longer than others. Games, puzzles, colouring, baking, Lego, magnet tiles – that’s all good. It’s the imaginative play that bores me to tears after about 5 minutes!

  5. Have another baby isn’t on your list! Lol. But in all honesty, my oldest son can’t stand to be alone and still doesn’t play by himself well (he’s 7) but having younger brothers gives him built-in play mates that give me an occasional play-break.

  6. I’m right there with you! I do not like playing with my kids. Funny thing: I just had more kids so they could play with each other! It worked! However, this is the most expensive and exhausting solution. Haha!

    1. I love this! I’m still waiting for this solution to work. When my youngest is a little older hopefully she will take my place as the on-call playmate, LOL;)

  7. These are all great tips to make playing with your child a bit more exciting! I like the idea of doing the things you like to do to mix it up. Going outside can change both of our moods!

  8. I have definitely questioned a time or two whether something was just me or not. But for me I just started making up my own silly voices to go with play. She certainly wanted to dictate things but as long as I was doing the silly fun voices, I had control of what I did and how long I did it. I don’t know why it worked but it seemed to.

  9. I love this post. These are great. Yeah, I’m there too. sometimes I love it! But sometimes playing with my kids is the last thing I want to do…I’m so grateful that my two girls are so close together for that reason; they often entertain themselves and I don’t have to feel crappy about it because they have each other. But other times nope, and for those time I will use this list!

  10. Yikes! I will be saving this to return back to when my daughter turns four. Anyway, great list. I especially like the idea of turning it into a playdate. Also, what a great idea to have a list of things you do like to play readily available!

  11. It’s not just you. I too have certain activities I enjoy doing with kids way more than others. And if we are honest, sometimes we are “just not feeling it”. I believe there is a certain age range where kids like to dictate to others how to play with them, also some personality types LOL!
    If we are honest, we don’t always want to play with our kids, sometimes the best times are watching them play and imagine without any adult help at all 🙂
    And that is a great skill for them to learn 😉

    1. I agree learning independent play is an important skill to develop. At least that’s what I tell myself when I send them off to go play without me, LOL!

  12. soooooo i thought i was a big brat because i HATED playing certain things with my boys. Unfortunately, the games that they would love to play were the games I hated playing with them. I’m more of a “lets sit down and color, do a puzzle, or build a tower” type of player… while my kids want to jump off things, make the puzzle explode, or build a tower to have an action figure crash into it and make it fall down. It’s very exhausting LOL I normally just give in. If I’m totally not feeling it, then i suggest another activity — like going outside!

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