Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Mommy doesn't play with us."

The kids were having some conversation the other day which resulted in Zoodle saying, "Mommy doesn't play with us."


Here's the thing. I'm a stay-at-home mom, which means I see my kids a lot. Especially Zoodle. I spend a lot of time with them.

Or maybe it's more accurate to say I spend a lot of time around them. That's different than spending time with them, isn't it?

I don't want to give myself a huge guilt trip for not playing a lot with my kids. I really do think that kids need to play a lot without adults. It's amazing the ways their little creative brains start working when they aren't hampered by the preconceived notions that "big people" always have. So I think that it's okay for most of my kids' play time to be independent (loosely supervised by me, of course!)

I'd better be honest, though. I just think that the games four- and six-year-olds play are, well...


But when Zoodle said I don't play with them, it gave me some insight. Of course the truth isn't that harsh; sometimes I play with them. Just...not very often. (I'm embarrassed admitting that!) But I need for them to see that I value them, that I enjoy them. That what's important to them is important to me--important enough for me to occasionally join in.

So I'm trying to say "Yes" more often. Like when Zoodle is lonely because his sister is at school, and he asks me to play cards.

It's just a 15-minute game of Alphabet Go Fish to me, but to him, it's a sign that Mommy likes him enough to be his friend.

Independent play is so important, but you know what else is important? Feeling important. I'm recommitting to playing with my kids. Because they are important to me.


Unknown said...

I'm also realizing how important play time with my son is to him. Every once in a while Ian will be full of joy from playing a game with me and he will say, "Mom you are my best friend." Totally worth every minute spent with him. "You are my best friend too kiddo!"

enthusiastically, dawn said...

It goes back to perception, yes? And listening.But it does go by so fast, Beth. My daughter says she can still remember wrapping her arms around my leg as I did dishes in the sink and looking up at giant Mommy. Now I chase her down for hugs...she is still a hugger! Take the time, let God multiply that- you won't regret it! You are a great Mom...there is always time to fit in the things that really matter, Beth. Always. Remember that. God is faithful...;) PS I think Rachel's Finding Joy - 10 Days of intentional Parenting would really encourage you! Consider it! Short and sweet, but so encouraging!

Lara said...

I agree. We once had a neighbor with kids the same age as ours'. The kids quickly became friends and so did their mom and I. She was completely exhausted because from the time their eldest was old enough to play, she literally played with him all day. He was demanding and entitled and viewed her as his playmate, not parent. So I just remember them anytime I start feeling guilty ;-)

Vixbil said...

Fab post x

forever folding laundry said...

Uh, yeah.
Also guilty.
I have to force myself to sit and play sometimes, too,
but you're right: sometimes playtime with mommy
is important to the kids,
which makes it important.
You're a good mom. :)


Tia said...

Feel guilty all the time about this. I am great at taking her places, but not at staying home and playing. At least not lately. Must get on that!

You are a great mom!

Call Me Cate said...

I definitely don't think it's something you should beat yourself up over. Especially since you're aware enough to overhear that statement and really HEAR it rather than dismiss it. How many (myself included if I had kids) would just dismiss that, defensively responding that you DO play with him and you're really busy! Nah, you're a good mama to Chickie and Zoodle. But 15 minutes is a lot to him - and it's a nice excuse to get off your feet!

Renee Thompson said...

You will be amazed how quickly they can transition to games that don't drive you batty. We had the boys playing Spades, Monopoly, Risk, etc... in early elementary years. I was so glad to get rid of the GoFish! and Dizzy Dinosaur game and deal the real cards! :)

Mike said...

Ach, what a great post! Today was my first day after final exams and I was thinking about the exact same dilemna that I have with my recently-turned-ten-year-old little brother. He was always complaining about how I never have time to play with him.

And now that I have the time, I can! Now the thing I would LOVE is to be play cards with him, which I strangely love and he strangely doesn't!

I remember exactly how I was at his age, because that was the year I asked my parents for a baby brother! That's why he was born when I was ten, because I was lonely and my parents never had the time to spend with me. Which is why I feel so happy when I see a mom or dad who is able to stay with the kids...I guess this is why I'm still living at home. Somehow I never spent that threshold time with my parents...hopefully I get sick of them someday, enough to move out at least!! :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't play with my kids very much - we did things together, I was there with them, talking to them, but they played with each other, or (gasp!) used their imagination and played alone with their toys. So far they have turned out great (20 and in college, 17 and in high school), and are socially acceptable and have lots of friends! So it's not a bad thing! :) I think mainly we need to be the parent, not the friend. At least until they are 25....

Unknown said...

This is my first visit to your blog and I think I have a girl crush on you now. I love this post! I also am a SAHM and I don't play with my kids a whole lot. I have 5 of them so they play with each other a lot. I have a 4 yr old and a 1.5 year old at home with me all day. I try to do some educational things with the 4 yr old and read books but they spend a lot of time playing independantly. I don't think that's a bad thing. They are creative, they are able to entertain themselves and they have a close relationship with each other. I'm tired of being judged for not entertaining and playing with my kids all day! I'm sharing this post with everyone I know! Thanks again.

RobynHTV said...

Great post - I get this from my middle set of kids (7 and 10) sometimes. I agree that it's important for them to play alone/together, plus I also agree a lot of their games are dullsville, plus it's hard for them to understand how much there is for a grown up to do during the day. But I do feel a lot of guilt for it, which should be a red flag to me that it doesn't FEEL right, even if the logic is there.

Thanks for the inspiration - I'm here from Delilah's blog (Semi-Domesticated Mama). :)