“I don’t play with my children,” she says.
I don’t owe them all my time. I don’t have patience for their mindless games. It’s not my job to entertain them, this is why I provided them siblings. They can play with each other. She believes this to be a fair way of thinking.
I cannot fault her, this mom, for saying these things. Not exactly. It is her choice how to parent. It is her choice how to manage her time with her family, same as a father can choose to spend time with his children or not.
Perhaps he sees himself as the breadwinner, and that is his role as a dad. Perhaps she sees herself as the caregiver (or the breadwinner), and that is her job. To work to provide for her children, or to maintain the home in which they live (and set up appointments, make dinner, et.c)
There is, they say, no wrong way to be a parent. This is true.
But, ask yourself, please, why you wanted to be a parent. Is it just to be their nanny, cook, chauffeur, and personal assistant? Do you want their memories of you to be of only of you dismissing them to go play, while you stay in the living room and drink wine and watch your movies?
Yes, kid games can be stupid, pointless, and boring. But they also can say the most hilarious things. They can make you laugh like nobody else. They can make you loved, and, one day, they’ll tell you something like, “I like you, because you’re playful and loving.”
No, you needn’t play with them from sunup to sundown.
You do not have to cave in to all of their demands, because they will always, always ask for more. But they will also be fine if you say no once in a while. The other day I played with the kids. I switched between watching a show with the oldest and playing a computer game with the other two.
I didn’t always stay next to them. Sometimes I just played around on my phone, or did the laundry. Often I left the two younger ones to play by themselves. Then joined them for fifteen or twenty mintues at a time to joke around and engage with them. They loved it– and they did not in the least mind when I wandered off.
Play games with your children.
Whatever that means for you. Let them choose the games, but also, feel free to guide them into entertainment that you enjoy, too. Create home videos. Go on walks together to get pie or doughnuts. Introduce them to the classic movies your mother loved. That’s the memories you’ll cherish when they grow older.
Being a parent is hard and often unfulfilling. Let yourself relax and have fun with them. Just to illustrate, I remember my grandparents. My grandmother baked cookies with me, gardened with me. She played games with me that she liked, Dominos and Scrabble. I don’t remember her playing dress up with me (I think I had my cousins for that), but she did play with me. My grandfather, on the other hand, I remember keeping to himself and do not have many memories at all. I do know that he loved me. He made sure he had a house for me to visit and plenty of food to eat. But I don’t have the same memories, as I do of my grandmother.
Playing with your children shouldn’t be a chore. I mean, you do like kids, right?
Because it’s true what they say. They’re only young for so long. I glanced through this article, “My Mom Never Played with Me As A Kid,” and the actual article said that her mother did, in fact, play with her as a child. Just not 24/7.
So, don’t make it awful. Make it fun for both of you. I mean, did you have kids just to pass on your genes and post Instagram photos of the great meals you cooked for your kids? Or did you do it, because you wanted a family. That, you know, you enjoy spending time with, having, well, fun.
Yes, the article was misleading, but I do know the kind of parent that absolutely never plays with their child. Yes, you’ve created your legacy. You’ve been a good mom. You’ve cut her sandwiches into pretty shapes. You’ve got her to school on time and to the doctor’s.
So, let the dishes sit in the sink for a bit, and take a break to plant flowers with your kids outdoors (better yet, have them help you with the dishes, first, than say, “Now it’s time for play!”)
Because parenthood should be fun. And it’s totally possible.