To The Mom Who Has a Hard Time Playing With Her Kids

Can I confess something? I have a hard time “playing” with my son.

I used to be really hard on myself for this but I’ve come to realize, I’m not the only one and there’s no reason to add any more mommy guilt to the pot. There’s enough of that already. Am I right? And chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re like me.

This doesn’t mean we love our children any less, in case you were wondering. Some moms are just naturally better at arts and crafts (not me), some are better at simply playing, and for that mom (ahem, me) who has a hard time playing with her kids, well, she has to be creative and find other ways to show our children she loves them and wants to spend time with them.

There really is no right or wrong, so just throw that possible mommy guilt out the window. See ya!

There are times when Andrew wants me to play with his cars, for the 20th time that day or when he wants me to play “bed tag” (where we run around the house chasing each other) and I just, don’t feel like doing it. I’m tired and I just want to hang out. I don’t want to try and play cars when everything that I do with the car is “not right” in his eyes.

I do have my moments where we have a good play session, but they don’t come as often as I’d hope they would. And I do try… really, I do.

Play is hard enough as it is for me, but when I add being a work from home mom, separating work from play is tough. It’s not easy to never stop thinking about that “To Do” list that’s haunting the back of my brain or the deadlines I need to meet. As someone who doesn’t like “unfinished” business, this makes it even more challenging.

Although I can think of ideas to do like arts and crafts, it’s just not my thing. Plus, sometimes I don’t have the patience when he gets frustrated every 5 seconds. It’s really a lose-lose for everyone and brings on unnecessary stress to both parties.

So what’s a mom like you and I to do?

What I’ve found to be the best thing to do is GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and find something that both of you ENJOY together.

When I make it a point to get Andrew and I out of the house at least once a week, it makes a WORLD of a difference for both us and how we act towards each other. Andrew gets the uninterrupted one-on-one quality time with me he needs, and I get a chance to break away from work and really focus on him.

It doesn’t really matter where we go either. I’ve found that we enjoy taking unnecessary trips to the grocery store (where we sneak 4 dark chocolate almonds from the bulk bins), going to Barnes and Nobles where we both get a treat from Starbucks and read lots of books, or the Children’s Museum where we have a membership pass.

A couple weeks ago, a reader asked me to share what Andrew and I do from day to day for inspiration. Here are some ideas just in case you’re drawing a blank because you’re more focused on ripping your hair out (I got your back, mama):

  • Take a trip to Barnes and Nobles (they have a train table, legos, and a reading corner).
  • Take a trip to the free library (bonus points if you can make it to the story time).
  • Take a trip to an outdoor market or go to the grocery store.
  • Go to the park.
  • Go outside and ride bikes, kick the ball, or anything you can do outside.
  • Buy a membership to a children’s museum or aquarium. Go as often as you can handle it.
  • Buy a membership to the zoo (the membership is totally worth it).
  • If you have friends with kids, make . a . play date. Just . do .  it.
  • If you’re on Facebook, find a mom’s group (or crunchy mom’s group) and see if they have any outings (or if they don’t, ask to start one).
  • If you can’t for whatever get out of the house, try baking. That is always my go-to for Andrew and I when we’re both having a crabby day and I just don’t have it in me to play. Plus, he loves licking the bowl so everyone is happy.

Just getting in the car and going somewhere different usually can turn the whole situation around. I suggest trying to commit to leaving the house and doing something fun once a week. It may take some time to figure out which place you both like best, but it’s totally worth it.

And if the sheer fact of just knowing that you aren’t alone in these feelings is enough then I’m happy that you feel a little more peace. Just remember, it doesn’t make you any less of a mom!

Similar Posts


  1. I am with you! I have been feeling quite guilty that I don’t enjoy playing with my kids. Although, I do love projects, I usually set up the art & craft and let them get creative on their I guess that doesn’t really help.
    It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only mom who would rather be doing things on the to-do list!

  2. Thank you very much for this….. I also have a hard time with this. I am lucky enough to have 3 children, and while I’m not always the best at “playing” (I try!), together, they are. I like to bring them places we both enjoy. But when it comes to the actual playing, most (not all) of the time the really fun stuff comes from them all playing together. When my two oldest are at school it’s just me and the boy at home and we play OK through out the day, but he really likes it when his sissies get home. Don’t get me wrong, he loves being home with me! But it’s so much more fun with his sisters who are more on his own level. I feel guilty that I’m not better at it, but then I tell myself that at least they aren’t missing out, I can give them more “mommy fun stuff” like baking and going for walks, and leave the playing with dolls and cars up to the experts, 2-9 year old 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *