Why It’s More Than Okay To NOT Play With Your Kids?
For a moment: think back to your childhood. What do you remember most about play time as a kid?
- Riding your bike
- Splashing in the creek with friends
- Sitting in your bff’s tree house playing Barbies
- Making secret clubs in your closet
- Creating plays with your cousins.
These are some killer memories!
Now really think about it, who did you spend most of your time playing with? As an only child, I had to either find friends to play with or spend time by myself.
Thinking back, there is rarely a time where I can remember my mom truly sitting down and playing with me. As a mom myself, I get why she didn’t want to dress Barbies over and over again.
It wasn’t as if she neglected me because I have thousands of memories doing fun things and going places with my mom. There were many game nights and being silly around the house, but as far as actual playing, NONE!
Do NOT Play With Your Kids: Moms Suck At IT
I can’t be the only parent who lets out a big sigh when the kids ask to play. Play should be fun and it is NOT when we all play together.
Parents and kids play completely different.
I want structure for what we are doing but the kids love a free for all. The plan in my head on how to play is worlds apart from what the kids’ train of thought. During play, we constantly have to explain our next move to one another.
Sure, the kids want me to be involved and that’s cool, but only when it’s fun. The moment it stops being fun for anyone, I’m out.
They have their ways to play and I have mine. I don’t want them to think I’m ignoring them so we set limits. I’ll say something like, “Ok, I’ll play for 20 minutes and then I have things I need to get done upstairs.”
By setting a time limit to my free play, I have an escape plan. This way they get the attention they want and I don’t have to sit there being bossed around playing their game.
Free Play Lets The Imagination Run Wild
Honestly, it’s more entertaining for me to watch my kids engage in their own play. They concoct these elaborate stories as a group or on their own.
Do you have an entire imaginary cat family living in your house?
Apparently, they have been here for ages according to the kids. The cats have names and specific owners, places they sleep and special foods they eat.
If I became involved in this game, I would screw everything up by asking too many realistic questions.
And this is the norm in our house. Even with four kids, they are all great about letting their creativity flow.
I used to wonder if it was weird how my kids talk to themselves. Really , it’s just them voicing their ideas out loud.
Coincidentally, I do the same when I’m writing…
On a daily basis, I catch a child with a stuffed animal whispering to it. I have no idea what is happening and truthfully it’s none of my business. Everyone wins!
Letting Go Of Mom Guilt Regarding Play
I don’t feel guilty about not playing with my kids because we do so many other things together. As they get older, experience new places or going on adventures fills up our cups.
Even at the playground, I do not play. This where they get to explore and do what kids do best: make new friends.
Think about it, who really wants mom to play with them?
She has a lot of rules and stipulations to follow in the house that will probably carry over into play. By not playing with my kids, I am unlocking a new level of independence.
My kids have learned skills they will need as an adult: like doing their laundry, making lunches, picking up after themselves. Entertaining themselves is another thing they will need be able to do.
Find Fun Activities To Do As A Family
While pretend play might not your jam (or mine), there are still plenty of ways to get that one on one time with your kids.
- Teaching them card games from your childhood
- Board Games
- Family movie night
- Exploring your neighborhood with nature walks
- Hiking at a local park
- Reading books together
- Walking the dog
- Day Trips
- Tossing a ball around in the backyard
As a family, we do lots of fun things together but when it comes to play, they are on their own. This works best for our family as we see their imagination soar when an adult isn’t stifling their fun.
Million Dollar Question: Do you play with your kids?
Original Post Date: October 15, 2018 (Updated March 13, 2023)