do you play with your kids?

It’s summertime and the kids are home from school. The days are an interesting mix of lazy and full, long and quick. We make an effort to plan outings, camps, lessons, vacations and still make room for stay-home days. This can be a sweet time of connecting with our kids and we certainly don’t want to take these moments for granted. After-all, we only have 18 summers to spend with them, right?

What has surprised me most this summer, whether lazying around at home or at the swimming pool on vacation, is this frequent question from all four of our kids:

Can you play with me?

No. 1 wants me to swim with him in the deep end.

No. 2 wants me to jump with him on the trampoline.

No. 3 wants me to battle him with light sabers.

No. 4 wants me to play cousin memory with her. Again.

And what do I want to do?

Sit on the lounge chair next to the pool.

Water the plants while the kids bounce.

Clean up the toys that are already strewn about the house.

Not play another round of cousin memory.

Now don’t get me wrong; I like kids, especially my own. I also like swimming and bouncing and playing games with them. My mom was always that mom who would give us under-dogs at the park and get her hair wet at the pool. I always liked that about her. She played with us.  And I want to follow her lead and be that mom to my kids as well.

But every single day this summer I’ve had this internal struggle when I hear the request can you play with me? It goes like this:

I know my kids won’t be little much longer. They won’t ask me to play with them. I will probably look back and wish I had played with them more. So, yes, even though I just took them to swim lessons and played tag at the park and bought them ice cream, and — , of course I will play with them.

but …

I am not my children’s playmate. I have responsibilities and tasks and my own desires that also need to be addressed today. So, no, they can play on their own for a bit.

but …

if I choose responding to email over playing with them, what does that say to them? That email is more important than they are? I never want them to feel that way. I should just play with them.

but …

they need to know that while they are very important, my life does not revolve around them. There is more to me than ‘mommy’ and they must learn to respect that. This time, they can manage a game without me.

but …

is that just an excuse? Am I the most incredibly selfish mother alive? Maybe I just need to suck it up and realize that parenting is one gigantic act of sacrifice. Go play with your kids, Emily.

… and round and round I go.

It’s a balance; of course it is.

Sometimes a mommy puts down what she’s doing to read a book to her daughter. Sometimes she asks her children to play in their room so she can make a phone call in peace. And sometimes she just doesn’t feel like playing legos and sits on the chair reading a new magazine instead.

It’s a balance that I haven’t figured out.

That elusive balance between saying yes and saying no. Wanting the best for our kids, but retaining our identities apart from them. Worrying that somehow if we get it wrong we’ll mess up our children for life.

Am I alone in this? I’m guessing and hoping not.

And so, please share, how does that balance work in your family?

Do you play with your kids?

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147 Responses to do you play with your kids?

  1. Laura August 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    I echo everyone else’s comments…you are definitely not alone! You’ve done a great job of capturing every mom’s internal dilemma! I have 4 kids close to your kids’ ages and I feel the same. One thing that has helped me is trying to give them little blurbs of mommy playtime (or reading/coloring, etc) throughout the day. Usually, if I take the time to sit down with them for even just 10 minutes, they don’t even notice or mind when I slip away from the play. Also, don’t feel guilty about not playing with them or about letting the time pass (have you read Momastery’s “Don’t Carpe Diem?'” :)! You are an amazing mom and most kids remember the good, fun things you do with them much more than the times you can’t play.

  2. Jennine August 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    My daughter is 13 now and doesn’t play anymore – only organized sports. My son is 12 and this is probably our last summer of play. When they were young, we had so much fun hiking, letter boxing, crafting, reading and cooking together but being a teacher – I was very good at scheduling and staying on schedule and they were kids that responded well to that. By 1:30 each day whether it was nap time as toddlers or quiet time as kids; I was able to get ‘me’ time in until a good 4:00. But I had only two where you have four. I cherish those memories because now I can’t believe those days are gone. So my advice = schedule that play time in and honor it, no phone, no distractions from your children. Maybe if they get that undivided attention consistently they will be more cooperative during your self block and you won’t feel guilty. Maybe use one of the weekly organizers so kids can see when their play time is scheduled for?

  3. Robin August 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Emily, do not despair! I am the mother of three; 21, 18 and 12. Recently we went through the mammoth job of taking all of those little video movie cassettes and transferring them to digital/hard drive formats. So, over the summer when we were all together for 3 weeks – we started watching them. After A LOT of laughs (and some tears because I couldn’t believe they were once so little), what became totally apparent, was that my husband and I are good parents. We have hours and hours of film showing everything from camping, golfing, swimming, bowling, decorating cookies, beach days, halloweens, building them a play center in our back yard and playing endless games of Barney, Candyland etc, etc, etc. I struggled with the same feelings as you are going through now, but let me just put your mind at rest. Your children will one day look back on your home movies too and think “whoa, we had an amazing childhood.” There is never enough time for a mother – it’s actually on line 4 of the mother code – did you miss it??? It’s summer – enjoy the carefree days and remember that what ever you can fit into a day – is the very best you can do. The rest is just not worth worrying about because your children are only insisting you share their time with them incessantly because they feel completely loved, adored and want you all to themselves. Not a bad problem to have – believe me when I say it’s hard when they become teenagers and all of a sudden you aren’t so amazing and they want to keep their doors closed. Love this stage, set limits that you can live with and your children will love you back no matter what – you’re AWESOME! Happy Summer :)

  4. april August 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Of course I play with my kids. I don’t read books or magazines or indulge in “me” time while they are awake. I don’t find a babysitter to go to the grocery store or Target or the mall. I take them with me. I include them all in the job chart-even my 2 year old helps. I let them plan the weekly menu and cook with me. Everything I need to do around the house, in the kitchen or running errands they do with me. They learn from watching me. I gave up the luxury of alone time when they were born-and I was very happy to do so. I have 8 kids, ages 18 to 2. They all know how to do their own laundry, load and empty the dishwasher and cook meals that don’t go in the microwave or come out of a box (well not the 2 year old, but you get what I’m saying). I graduated from college and I haven’t “worked” a day since I walked to receive my diploma. My work begins when the first child wakes up for the day and ends when I close my eyes at night. My paycheck is filled with proud moments everyday when my kids are kind to one another, say please and thank you, wash their hands after using the bathroom and can keep calm and quiet for the entire meal when we go out to eat. I’ll have plenty of time to sit around and read books or magazines during the day, answer emails that are so important, and maybe even indulge in a nap when they have all grown and left the house-well maybe not, I’ll be too busy with my grandbabies. I’m a mom, I’m happy and I wouldn’t change any of what I do for some silly book.

    • Maria August 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      Wow, I’m a homeschooling, attachment parenting mom and I am exhausted by how you have just explained your life. What youi have given to your chldren is wonderful but hopefully you will not expect the same of your daughters when and if they become mothers. They may choose to mother differently.

    • doris August 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Wow! You sound so busy. I just wonder where you find the time to read Emily’s blog AND leave such a mean spirited comment in the midst of being present for your children every possible second.

      Hang in there Emily. The majority of people think just like you.

    • Carol September 10, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      Two years later, I just read this post. I can so relate to Emily’s balancing act and internal struggle between adult life/work and our kids. To read this comment above was very disappointing. So bitter and rude! A perfectly selfless (ha!) mom of eight, refers to reading a grownup book as “some silly book” and communicating with other adults via email as sarcastically “so important”? THAT is how you want to model life for your children? Methinks there is a tone of jealousy here. Rock on, Emily – most of us out here are right there with you!

      • emily September 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

        Thanks Carol :)

  5. Emily August 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I feel the same way. I feel like I don’t know how to play with my 3-year-old, like I don’t have the right personality for it. I even got a book to help me find activities to do with her, but each activity only lasts a few minutes. I do like reading to her, and we play with blocks sometimes. My husband is good at imaginary play, and baby brother is growing up…I hope that I will be able to connect more with my girl as she gets older.

  6. Jenny Prouse-Lewis August 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Yes….tho , just like you, its a conscience balance.

    I have four kids 19, 16, 15 & 6. I used to find it hard to have physical energy to play running tumbling games when the eldest 3 where young, maybe because with three littlies we’re always running around anyway.

    I did it anyway, also, for all the reasons you listed. Yip its worth it, as they do remember.

    As the kids grew the “playing” changed. It began to involve discussions, hanging at shops (not my favourite thing) more discussions, occasional card game, and even more discussions.

    These discussions are more like debates, and I love to challenge my kids minds and here their perspective on any given subject. BUT sometimes I’ve just had enough, I can’t match a teenagers passion.

    So, you know what I do instead?

    I go and play running and tumbling with our 6 year old. LOL!

    Life really is a balancing act.

    Jenn xoxo

  7. Nan Tee August 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    I totally understand your situation. I love playing with my daughter, but as we’ve moved on to online educational games, I just cannot be as enthusiastic. I love that she’s learning something new, but I also just wish she would read a book to me or herself, without asking! The best of luck as you do your balancing act ;)

  8. Lorie Moynihan-Broedel August 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    My son is 16 now and I enjoy talking with him about every subject imaginable and watching him play sports: football, indoor and outdoor track. He also goes Letterboxing with me!! When he was little I would read to him and take him with me everywhere I needed to go (I still take him with me, telling him we are making more memories that he will tell his children when I am gone!) I didn’t play “pretend” with him. He had many neighborhood children to play with and he was good playing on his own as well, which I think is something children need. In my salon, my clients sometimes bring their children or grandchildren with them. I have noticed as the years go on that more often than not the children run the show, having all the attention on them. To the point that my client can’t even have 45 minutes of “me time” that they deserve. It wasn’t like that when I was young, we learned that our parents had other things in their lives that didn’t involve us. Don’t feel guilty, treasure the time you spend with them, but have time for yourself as well!

  9. Kim August 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    I believe the parents who revolve their lives around their kids all the time are not preparing them for the real world. The real world says no a lot! The real world is full of rejection. Plus nobody is the center of the universe in the real world. If children learn how to divert from a no and find their “happy place” with some other activity alone or with another child it will teach them how to react to rejection. It teaches them how to move forward and be independent. It is also important for kids to observe their parents doing things they enjoy. Kids are happy when their parents are happy. Relaxing by a pool, watering plants, cleaning and not repeating games are all healthy choices for your kids to see and they won’t remember that they will remember that one time you danced with them in the middle of your living room for no reason. I love my kids, they know they are loved and that is what it all comes down to – love. When I read what my kids write in their school journals it talks about all the stuff we do together and how much fun they had. And I say no as often as I say yes. I don’t think of the best parent as being one to do everything with their kids I think the best parents are people who try to balance between being a mom and being their own person. BTW balance is never perfect because nobody is perfect. Good post Emily. You are a good mom.

  10. Wendy August 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    I am a single mom and my children are mostly grown….ages 25, 21 and 17. Every once in a while, I yearn for those days when my children were small and would ask me to play with them. I tried to indulge them when they asked, if I could. Today they are all very busy and don’t have too much time for me. I wish they would ask me to do something with them now!
    Raising children is a very demanding job. I think every mom deserves a little “me” time. It is not selfish in the least. I see it as preserving your sanity! You will be a much better mommy if you are happy and have some creative outlets.
    From reading your blog, you sound like a fantastic mom. From my perspective, I think you are doing a great job!

  11. Erin August 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Emily, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I find it difficult to find the balance myself.

    I telecommute full time. This summer I have two kids who are old enough to keep themselves occupied at home. While my 7 year old can occupy herself, I have tried to put my 4.5 year old in daycare at least three days a week for some sanity, but it’s been so difficult. I find myself making concessions like candy and gum at 9 am so I can complete a conference call with a customer when both kids are home.

    And while they argue one minute and play nice another, driving me mad, I am looking forward to spending the next two weeks with them, playing in the pool, taking a road trip, and waking up next to two sweet girls.

    And then they go back to school! Routine is my sanity and summer is lacking that routine, therefore that balance and sanity.

  12. Ada in Coastal Cali August 6, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    wow. this has hit home to a lot of us.
    Here’s the thing-being a mom is wonderful, exhausting, all consuming, and each of us struggles with balance. That’s just real. Yes, play with your kids. Play can be lots of things and doesn’t involve building legos for 6 hours….it can be finding a specific letter through the grocery store, playing “beauty shop” letting them comb and fancy up your hair, cooking together etc. But there of course needs to be time spent on things you love, things that encourage, inspire, enlighten you. Maybe you don’t get a day at the spa-but throwing the ball at the park then let them play while reading a magazine, sitting with your feet in the pool while they swim. Don’t be so hard on yourself like it has to always time to play or always time devoted to your things-ignoring them. Keeping our homes, our lives running is part of “life” and eventually will be part of theirs. Teaching them to play solitaire, how to swim, build a fort- that is invaluable because its why we set out on this role in the first place!

    Somedays I have better perspective than other days. Remind yourself- not to be so hard on yourself…… and just find the reasons you love being mom-do more of that!

  13. Meg August 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    I think that this is one of life’s big questions. I have, particularly in the past, done the “they are little once & be gone all too quickly” thing and neglected what I probably should have been doing. Now that my 4 are getting older (12, 8,7,3), I have tried this summer, the theory of “if you help me a little bit, I will have more time to have fun with you”. Guess what? Hmmm, although they want me to do the fun stuff with them, they are unwilling to help out – and I am just talking about unloading the dishwasher & bringing dinner dishes to the sink twice a day. Although I have not completely thrown out the playing with them, I have not done it as much, either. I may be selfish, but I am beginning to use more and more the philosophy of “if you are not willing to do for me, I am not willing to do for you”.

  14. Audrey August 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    I will be sending my baby off to college in a few weeks…the youngest of 4 (in 5 years). I have worked outside of the home full time (for insurance and Christian education) for most of my children’s lives, but have been fortunate to work for a company willing to work around my family. My favorite way to relax was to spend time in my garden, but as our family became busier with sports and school activities I chose to put my garden aside a bit…it would always be there but my children wouldn’t. I have no regrets now that I will soon have an empty nest … my husband and I both recognized that we need alone time to be better parents and spouses. He would relax by surfing and I would spend time at a nursery looking at plants, walking the beach or spending time with my sister. Our children learned that all of us need alone time to spend relaxing so we can be a better family. Our motto is “God First” and the rest just falls in to place…sometimes that’s a family room full of wild kids and sometimes it’s a cup of coffee alone at the local Starbucks. There are no right or wrong ways as long as God is first.

  15. Sarah W August 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    I also struggle with this, and note some of the exact same things you did. I want to be an attentive mom, and capitalize on every fleeting moment I have with my daughter (and I have another daughter on the way!), but I also want them to grow up knowing that the world does not revolve around them and that there are going to be times when I just can’t do things for/with them, and that they can be okay entertaining themselves. I feel a little better about this after reading the book Bringing Up Bebe and realizing it is good for kids to hear no and have to entertain themselves. I didn’t read all the comments so I could be repeating what others said, but I wanted to post so you know you are not alone!

  16. Kristin Smith August 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Interesting article about letting our kids be kids:

  17. Heather August 7, 2012 at 4:02 am #

    Very insightful post. I only have one child so I deal with this issue on a daily basis. It is nice to know that I am not alone. Thank you ;)

  18. Deanna August 7, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    i know how you feel darling! even though im only a 16 year old and i dont plan on having kids anytime soon, im the sort of person who thinks about the future all the when i think about my kids i always wonder where the line is and where the restrictions are. its kind of frustrating because i know that they will need to be cared and loved for but i dont want them growing up always getting what they want-they need to learn that mum or dad cant always be there playing with them

  19. Jessica August 7, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    My mom very rarely, if ever, played with us when were young. Now, she did read to us, sing to us, and so on. She also homeschooled us until middle school. But she never played Barbies, or colored with us. She did make us playdough and bring us to the pool. And I never expected her to play with us. We played – that was our “job.” She was always baking, and cooking wonderful meals, reading and studying the Word of God, praying with other mothers on the phone, cleaning…so on – that was her “job.” We are best friends now by the way. Just my experience. You are right – we are not their playmates. Do what you feel to do, play with them when you can, but don’t stress about it.

  20. Stephanie August 7, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    Your honesty is refreshing! This topic is one that comes up a lot in our home, and my husband and I struggle as well. We sort of thought the kids (we have 3) would enjoy playing ‘together’ more than they do. There are so many things to feel guilty about as a mom. I don’t think we ever feel we are doing a super job. Much of the time, I think to myself “I survived another day!”. I agree with Kim. I think that it is our job as parents to prepare our children for real life. They need to learn to entertain themselves, be able to be alone, work out problems amongst themselves. There is no doubt in my mind that your kids feel so loved by you and your husband and that is what matters most.

  21. Kim @ Plumberry Pie August 7, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    just had to say thank you for this post. i have same thoughts rerun through mind all the time. great to know i’m not alone and see everyone’s perspective.

  22. Amanda M. August 7, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    First of all, not to start a controversy, but WOW some people are seriously judgmental. When you pour your HONEST heart out in a blog post, it’s pretty crappy that someone would make a comment like one I just read above. Sheesh.
    Second, I think this is a daily struggle. Some moms I know take a LOT of ‘me’ time – it’s taken to the extreme and obviously that’s not awesome. Some I know are just naturally excellent playmates for their kids and that’s really cool. Most of my friends are the in-between (like me!). I definitely like to hang out with my kids and do fun stuff, but I also want them to be able to occupy themselves on their own (reading, artwork, etc.) and during that time, I can catch up on email, etc.. But it’s a daily struggle because I while I want them to be self-sufficient, I also don’t want them to think I am ignoring them for an email or a magazine. It’s a real struggle. Thanks for posting about it, because it’s nice to have a conversation with other moms who are going through the same thing.

  23. Marissa August 7, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    I am so thankful that I’m not the only one that feels this way I often feel so selfish when I take two minutes to rest. I want to keep my identity. But still help my daughter and son grow into their own. Balance is such a huge part of life in everything there needs to be balance but how? I guess I need to keep praying to be super mom!! Thanks for your blog I always really enjoy knowing that I’m not the only one going through this life like this :)

  24. Karena August 7, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    Love, love, love the honesty in this post! (and I’m not even a mom yet!)

  25. Grace August 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this! I do love your blog, that you write about real stuff, have awesome stuff to buy and great tutorials! I love that you are real and vulnerable and that you encourage me to do the same! I have a 3 year old and 8 month old and I often have this dilemma and I feel like I succeed and fail often! Many times that I choose me instead of them I feel guilty, but like I am trying to teach them to play alone. Often when I choose them I feel guilty that my husband is coming home to a dirty house and will have to wait an extra 30 minutes for dinner but am thankful that my boys know that I love them so much and they know they are more important than laundry and having dinner on the table at 5:30 sharp every day! I know I will continue to have that inner struggle, I know that I won’t always make the right decisions and that I will fail…but I also know that my boys will always know that they are important, I will pick up frogs even though my inside is turning over and over at their squishiness, I will read the book that is falling apart even though we got it 5 days ago, and I will let them jump on me and rough house even though it is hard on me! I love being a mom but I also love some down time

  26. Heather August 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I have been so blessed to be able to spend each and every day with my four children, homeschooling them and raising them to be strong, independent, God loving adults. They are within my reach practically every moment, but they are quite often doing their own thing. They know I am here for them if they need me, but I have noticed as they grow older, they do not “need” me as much. They have also grown up learning to wait their turn, as each one requires time learning with me on his/her own.
    My kids range in age from 8 to 17. When the kids were young (under 3) I certainly spent more time “playing”, but really it was teaching life skills; we played house by washing dishes, sorting laundry, dusting, etc. (Sometimes we would pretend we were different people, different fairies, different animals, etc.) When the kids reached 5 or 6, they started “playing” house on their own, continuing to clean for Mommy as I looked on. Now they find tiding up to be part of their daily routine. I have also always included them in projects in the house: painting fences, planting flowers, cooking holiday meals. I have basically included them in my daily work, giving them time to play on their own while I took time to “play” (pay bills!) on my own. Now, I will say, I never played dolls/action figures with them, although I will drop everything for a good card game or board game. I never built Lego constructions, but I would ooh and aah at each imaginative construction they would show me. Also, I ALWAYS sit with them and read, wether we are each reading independently, or I am reading to them, or they are reading to me; and every night we say our prayers as a family before saying good night.
    Each day is a balancing act, but I can honestly say that at the end of each day, I rarely feel off balanced :)

  27. Jessica August 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    I battle with this subject often… I work full-time, so when I come home, I don’t want to play and what not. Or I don’t feel like cooking dinner. Sometimes I can be very short with them and I don’t like that.. I hope to one day stay home again and be able to spent time with them.. I can’t quit my job right now, but someday. Thanks for posting this. :)

  28. Stacie August 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    I struggle with this balance all the time but I mostly think the struggle comes from the lies that each element of our life has to get equal billing. Balance is not the key – equilibrium is! Some seasons in life certain aspects of life demand (and rightfully so) more from us. The trick is not believing the lies. Just because I must give more to this one thing now doesn’t mean I am abandoning or neglecting the other things.

    I do love to play with my kiddos but I do need breaks. Not breaks from them because I don’t enjoy them but we need breaks from each other. I do bring my kiddos with me most places and they help out around the house but I didn’t give up myself entirely when I birthed my babes. I just didn’t. I don’t believe God asks me to. I am told I must give myself up entirely for Christ and HIS kingdom. I am constantly learning to die to myself and my selfishness in all aspects of my life.

    I am thankful that you shared your struggle. Your view. Today is my one day out. My one day of space this summer and I am not feeling the least bit guilty. I have reminded myself regularly this summer to enter in, to engage, to enjoy these little miss treasures that God has graciously given me. To be perfectly honest, a day away (complete with a haircut and pedi) is lovely and necessary. But obviously, nothing compares to a day with my girlies!

    Enjoy your kiddos and your space!

  29. Abby August 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    I know how you feel. It is important to find balance. Not only for you, but for them too. If we play with them all day long, we are not giving them a chance to play on their own. But we do want to build memories and be present with them too. I think that balance is something we will always strive to achieve and just doing so is enough. I think it is important for our children to see us as a mommy and a woman so they know that we are people too. Not perfect people, but ones love them unconditionally.

  30. Mary Elizabeth August 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    I am a new mother and already I can feel myself going round and round about this. My sisters and I have a blog and sometimes I don’t always do that post I have been wanting to write because I need to spend time with my little girl. Other times I say No, mama needs to get some things done….I suppose the balance is different for every mother…

  31. CK August 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    Thank you for the honest blog post. I am right in the thick of this battle of heart-mind-time-focus-energy and your post was exactly the empathy I needed. Praying peace for all of us moms as we give it our best, and that we will be gracious to ourselves, too.

  32. Meghan August 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I love this! I can so relate to your need to find a healthy and God centered BALANCE with life with kids. I totally feel like it’s valuable to take little (and big) moments of “you time” without guilt. Your kids know you love them because you do play with them!

  33. Kate August 9, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I thought of your post when I read this blog post today. I thought it might be helpful to pass along to you and your other readers.

  34. Catherine Liedtke August 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Love your parenting posts, Emily. Your creativity inspires me daily, and I love seeing your latest projects. Reading your blog, it seems you HAVE achieved that balance — you write often of cool things you’ve done with the kids as well as the artistic side of your life. You inspire me to keep up my artistic side even as I play with my daugter. Thank you and please don’t stop!

  35. Denise August 17, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    THANK YOU so much for writing this! So true. I love my daughter, and we have tried to bring her up to know she is valued, but not the center of the universe.

    Unfortunately, we have seen up close and personal, the parents who do become their kids playmate, who let their children interrupt, and who take over EVERYTHING!!
    When those kids are over, they don’t want to just play with the kids, they want the adults involved too…..ugh.

    I appreciate this post!

  36. Susan August 19, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I think this is the dilemma of all mommies – especially in this day of the do it all mommy (work, socialize, charitable contribution, family, church, etc.). It is comforting to read all the other posts to feel that I am maybe not doing such a wonky job at this parenting gig. Our family has implemented four things: 1) twice a day we have set mommy time (once during the day for an uninterrupted hour to craft, play, bounce, run etc. and once at night for stories and songs), 2) every day we have set daddy time (after dinner for about 45 minutes when he “rough plays” with my VERY energetic boys), 3) Saturday mornings are mommy’s “alone time”, and – this is the big one – 4) I have given up having a picture perfect clean house. I tidy once a day and clean every other day. This is a big one for me because my natural tendency is to be a neat freak. But you know, jumble berry pancakes on Sunday morning taste just as good in a clean kitchen as they do in a messy one…who knew?!?!? I know that my kids see me and my husband working to find balance, working on our marriage by spending time with each other, working to show them that they are priceless to us, and working to help them be independent. I am satisfied with that.

  37. Cassia August 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    I realize that this conversation happened a while ago, but I read an article today that might helps moms answer questions like yours…

    I think Kristin is right on when she says that family can totally become an idol in our hearts. I don’t have children yet, but when I do, I know I will struggle between the desire to play with them and the desire to do other things (which may or may not also be important). And I think that when I do have children, I will constantly need to ask myself, “WHY am I doing this for/with my children?” Is it because it will make other women think I’m a good mom? Is it because it will make my children like me more? Is it because I want to avoid a guilt trip? Is it because that’s what “good moms” do? Or is it because it is what will honor the Lord the most right now?

    Anyway, I just wanted to add that to the conversation. Thanks for being so vulnerable and sharing your thoughts and struggles.

  38. Judy H. January 12, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    I’m reading some of the comments here and feeling my age! My children are now 34 and 33, When they were very young, the conversation about whether to play or not play with one’s children was just beginning to surface for it was at that time that many women were deciding to work outside of the home. Out first child was born when I was barely one year out of college. (yes, my husband and I married when we were in college, something our parents were not too happy about, but we were in love!) I was so young it never occurred to me whether I should or should not play with her or how much time I should devote to it. I was a stay home Mom from the begining, my husband’s job called for him to travel Monday-Thursday, my children NEEDED the consistency of me being there all of the time. A year later, our son was born and once again, at 22 years old, I never even thought about playing with my children, I just did. If they wanted me to read or put a puzzle together, play tea party, do play-doh or coloring books and crayons, I did. They did not always get a “yes” from me. If I was busy with something else, I simply told them we could play later because I was busy. They never complained. Back in the 80’s, many children like mine attended Playschool, which were parent co-operatives where there was a teacher present, but also two parent helpers. It worked out that each Mom or Dad helped about twice a month. Playschool was only 3 mornings a week from 9-11:30 a.m. As a parent helper, we played with all of the children. When it came time for Kindergarten, they both went happily, no tears, but Kindergarten was only a half day then, so my kids were never over-stimulated, over-tired or over-demanding about time with me. I felt no need to hover over what they did in school or visit the teacher several times a month and I know my children would not have wanted me to do so. Maybe my ignorance in having children when I was 21 ans 22 years old was bliss. My kids taught me how to raise them and there wasn’t a lot of thinking or struggling with what I was doing about it. Not to suggest that I was a complete dunce, I did graduate from college with 2 degrees; as I said, it simply never occurred to me to question what I was doing, Interestingly, I continued to be a stay home Mom until they graduated from high school, something else I never planned or didn’t plan to do. that’s just the way it happened. My daughter is now married with 3 children and is an interior designer, my son is an attorney and married with 2 children. My husband and I enjoy terrifc relationships with our kids and kids-in-law and the grandchildren are icing. Do I over indulge my grandkids? You bet I do!

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