This is by no means a post to guilt trip anyone out there. This is a post written by a mom who struggles with this day in and day out. I feel the constant pull of “getting stuff done” versus spending time with my daughter. We all have a hard job. Being a mom can feel endless and often completely thankless. This post is all about choosing to unplug sometimes and play with my kid.
If you are one of those parents who loves to get down and play with your children, you deserve a gold star. Don’t even read my post.
If you are the mom who cringes every time your kiddo asks you to “play with ME!!!“, read on.
My husband is SO good at playing with my daughter. I don’t know why, I suck at it. Sure, I can sit down and play magiclip dolls with her for about 10 minutes, talking in a high-pitched voice like Rapunzel. And I will gladly play a few rounds of hide and seek. I love some play-doh time. But I would rather do the dishes or finish the laundry piling up on the sofa.
Lil is in a new stage where the most common sentence that comes out of her mouth is, “Play with me Mommy!”. Not every two hours. EVERY MINUTE, if not seconds. I must hear it all day. Unless she is eating or sleeping (but sometimes even when she is eating). Certainly when she is taking a bath.
I am grateful. My daughter has a crazy awesome imagination. She wants to play school and teacher, store, and she now has two imaginary friends (Sarah and Rose) who also join our play sessions.
Today I made an effort to play with her for ten minute intervals between chores and laundry. I found I enjoyed it more and more, and loved watching her mind work and hearing the goofy things that come out of her mouth.
We live in a day and age where not only do we manage so much (any mother has enough work to do with being a Mom alone), but we now have access 24/7 to information to completely distract us from doing what we actually need to do (paying the bills, washing the dishes, etc). How many times have I put off something important to watch a video on my Facebook feed or to watch a show on Netflix.
The fact is, the internet, iPhone’s, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Netflix, blogs, and everything else that vies for our attention will ALWAYS be there with SOMETHING catchy to distract us.
I watched a movie recently called HER. Have you seen it? I found it devastating. I also found it convicting. We already live in an age where, if you walked into any random public place, at least half the heads would be looking down at their phones instead of around at what is going on in front of them. It is easier to stay tuned in to technology than our own relationships. I am not against technology- I love it! Too much, a at times. I feel drawn to pull out my dumb phone and see if any new alerts or messages have popped up. WHY??!! It drives me crazy how much such a small device keeps me distracted.
A sad and tempting situation is rising around us. I allow technology and social media to distract me from the most important people and moments in my life directly in my reach. I cannot imagine I am the only one who has struggled with this.
I struggle, every day, multiple times a day, to respond to my daughter’s plea to “play with her”. I find that she asks most often when my attention is to my phone, computer, or iPad. Sometimes I truly need to respond to an email or pay an online bill. Most of the time, I don’t need to be online.
My daughter even once asked me to “put my phone down”.
By no means am I on my phone all the time, and I am not on social media much anymore, either. Yet I still struggle with this.
5 reasons to log off and play with our children
1. They are asking us.
If our kid is asking us to play with them, it is because they want to play with us. Not alone, not with a friend, not on the computer. With a real, live, person they adore. I want to count it a blessing when my daughter wants to build Lego’s with me instead of zone out to the television. I want to acknowledge her better, and if I am unable to play with her when she asks, schedule a time to follow through and take time to simply play with her. I can only imagine that five or ten minutes will be priceless for both my daughter and myself.
2. It’s good for everyone’s imagination.
I am amazed at how much playing “house” or “store” causes me to think. It is good for my brain to use my imagination, something that as adult’s we often struggle to exercise. I know it is essential for my daughter’s brain development to use her imagination and pretend play. It is as important as physical exercise, and directly affects her mental growth and success in school. Just fifteen minutes of pretend play a day can go a long way!
3. They want our presence.
Our children yearn for our presence. It has been said, “a child desires our presence not our presents”. It is easy to go throughout the day only tackling to-do lists and staying busy and never taking a moment to read our children a few books or sit down on the floor with them and do a puzzle. This is the best gift we can give our children, and also gives them a greater gift- memories!
4. Most things can wait.
I am aware that there are pressing things that must get done. Sometimes our lives are more hectic than others. A new mom to a second baby will hardly have the time or energy to sit and play with the older child. A couple renovating their house will struggle to carve out time to play. And single parents? It is hard to get everything done in one day. I once met a lady who told me a story about her mother. Her mom had apologized to her grown children when she was in her seventies for never having the chance to play with her children. She was a parent during the Great Depression, and the mother of twelve. Her husband, a farmer, had endless work, and so did she. She literally could not sit and play without sacrificing something for everyone’s survival. Yet she felt guilt for not playing with her kids many years later. This story breaks my heart.
We live in a time when most things can wait. Even if I can only intentionally play with my daughter a few minutes here and there, I hope I take the opportunity to do so rather than choose something unimportant.
5. They won’t want to play with us forever.
I don’t know how long this stage will last, but I know I will miss it sooner than I expect. Much like breastfeeding (will this ever end?!), or sleepless nights cuddling a newborn child, the time goes faster than I wish. I know one day my daughter won’t want to play blocks with me or dance to music all silly or pretend to be my teacher. These are magical, silly years of laughter and exploring and curiosity. I want to be present for them, even though I feel too tired to play. Most of the time, she says something wacky and hilarious that lights me up or completely changes my serious mood. Children are so full of joy, and it is contagious.
Am I the only mom who struggles with this? Be honest! Share with me how you cope and encourage yourself to press on in motherhood!