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Do you like playing with your kids? (I don’t*)

Erin Zammett Ruddy

There are many things I love doing with my children, but building a castle out of Duplos or being “the bad guy” and getting locked in the playroom closet do not top my list. Is that so bad?


*Before you think I am both a princess and a bad mother, here is a list of things I do—and love doing—with my kids: Cooking (Alex knows more about food preparation at four than I did at 24), reading, dancing (preferably to really cheesy top-40 music that has somehow infiltrated our rap/rock house), playing catch (now that Alex can actually throw and catch—prior to that it was not so much fun), swimming, taking walks, running around the backyard, picking food from our garden, playing I spy, planting flowers, collecting shells on the beach, playing the car game (when we’re driving, Alex and I will each pick a color and we see who can find the most cars in their chosen color) and someday I know I will love drawing and painting with them, though right now that activity is more trouble than it’s worth.


See? I do stuff. But when it comes to sitting down in their playroom racing cars or putting together train tracks that they immediately dissemble, I get bored really fast. I start thinking of a million other things I could and should be doing. OMG, I am a bad mom! Every once in a while I get into it if we’re playing “restaurant”—Alex makes a mean wooden-vegetable soup—or if I’m really tired (Nora likes to pretend I’m a baby and she’ll make me lie down cover me up with blankets and then yell at me “Put your head down, mom, Close your eyes, mom, SHHHHHH.”) But for the most part if I’m down there with them, I’m just play-cleaning. That is when I give the appearance of playing but I’m actually cleaning—I’m really good at it. I’m sitting with them and nodding and smiling, but while they’re crashing trains or rocking baby dolls (they both enjoy both), I’m organizing the Little People. That counts, right?


Clearly, I have multitasking issues. I also think their age and the fact that playing just isn’t that fun yet has something to do with it (Candyland involves too much whining and cheating and eating of pieces, for example). And the screaming and fighting that the playroom toys seem to bring out in my children isn’t exactly a great incentive. Or maybe I am just a bad mom. How about you guys? Do you get on the floor and full-out play with your kids? And if you do, do you enjoy it?