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Last week, I took to the internet to ask my mom friends for ideas on how I could enjoy playing with my kids. The responses surprised me. Instead of ideas, I got a lot of exclamations of, "Me too!" I also received a lot of encouraging responses. I don't have to enjoy playing with my kids. That's what other kids are for! I'm still a great mom even if I don't enjoy playing with my kids. I can show love in other ways. The wonderful women who responded helped me to realize that I am still a great mom even if I don't enjoy playing with kids. They also helped me to realize all of the other cool things I do with my kids already. I'm not such a bad mom after all! They helped me to come up with this list of 10 ways to play with kids for moms who hate to play.
1. Set a timer.
I have a hard time being fully present during my time with the kids. I worry about all the stuff I need to do when I am trying to spend time with them. I've learned how to play with my kids in small spurts. I say things like, "I will play with you until the timer goes off, but then I have to wash dishes," or, "I need to work until the timer goes off. Then I will play with you."
2. Let them help.
My kids love to help me around the house. I don't know about you, but it is so hard for me to enjoy spending time with my kids when there is still work to be done. My solution is to let my kids help. They love to help unload the dishwasher, rake leaves, or fold clothes. It usually does make the chore take longer, but it helps on those days when there is a lot to do.
3. Visit indoor play areas.
I really don't like chasing after my kids. I had a few experiences with my oldest when she was a toddler that have left me with anxiety about wide-open outdoor places. Since then indoor places have been my friend. I still have to watch them like a hawk to be sure they don't escape, but I'm not quite as anxious as I am at parks. My kids love to play at a Chikfila or McDonald's play area, but our favorite is the Playscape at Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land.
Check out: Stomping Grounds in Sugar Land
Also: Majestkids Playland in Sugar Land
4. Visit parks.
I still take my kids to the park, but I prefer to take them to parks that seem a little more contained. My favorite parks in Sugar Land are Eldridge Park and Sugar Land Park by Sugar Land Middle School.
5. Exercise with them.
My kids joined me on all of my daily walks throughout my third pregnancy. I strapped the toddler in the stroller, and my preschooler walked with me. She kept up really well too! She'd run ahead sometimes and wait for me to catch up. Now she is one of the fastest kids in her class. It is one of the most adorable things to watch my kids do yoga or Pilates with me. I get jealous when it is so easy for them.
6. Have bath time.
It is pretty sad how long it took me to figure out that bath time isn't necessarily just for taking baths. Now that my kids are old enough to take baths independently, I can let them play in the tub when I need to catch up on things. Sometimes my kids climb in the shower with me when I'm taking a shower. It is a win for all involved. The kids climb in, I get a shower, and the kids think I'm playing with them.
7. Visit the library.
We love Toddler Time at the Fort Bend County Libraries! We go as often as our schedule allows. All I have to do is make sure that my kids don't escape, and sit back while the teachers sing songs, read books, and share crafts with them.
8. Snuggle up and read books.
I am a master at reading books with my kids. This is my favorite thing to do with them. Our current favorite is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I'm also a really great snuggler. I'd enjoy it more if my toddler could JUST SNUGGLE without wiggling incessantly. Snuggling with her makes my stress melt away when she is able to be still. We love to snuggle up and read books together.
9. Sing songs.
We sing lots of songs. Everything becomes a song. We sing when we clean up. We sing when we brush teeth. I even sing them a song about "wiping butts" during diaper changes. (I didn't say they were GOOD songs.) Our current favorites are Bingo and Little Bunny Foo Foo.
10. Attend play dates.
For a mom who has a hard time playing with kids, play dates are a lifesaver! Not only do they allow for adult conversation, but the kids *mostly* entertain each other. All I have to do is help settle disputes sometimes.
I loved that the biggest takeaway I got from asking my mom friends how to play with my kids is that I am enough! Who I am and what I have to offer my kids is enough. Brene Brown would be proud.