• Wed, May 21 - 11:30 am ET

Ignoring Your Children During Playtime Won’t Hurt Them

how much time should I play with my kids

Over the last few years, I’ve noted that I am an unusual specimen in the realm of modern motherhood. I so very rarely feel anything resembling “Mommy Guilt”when it comes to the quality time I spend with my kids. I know this is novel in an era where it seems that mothers are so often derided for focusing attention on anything other than their children but I just can’t bring myself to join them. I don’t even mean that I am running around getting weekly manicures and taking girl’s weekends in Vegas. I simply don’t place most of my focus and free time on my kids and it would seem I am in the minority.

I have come to realize over my nearly seven years as a parent that at heart, I am a mom of another generation. I feel a lot like my own mother- a parent of the 80’s and 90’s. I like time to myself and I highly prize my kid’s ability to play independently and solve their own quarrels. A helicopter mom I am not. To that end, I rarely sit on the floor and play with them anymore. It has been that way since they were young toddlers and able to amuse themselves- they have each other and I’m pretty sure they are a lot more fun to be around than I am and how else will the laundry and dishes get done?

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  • Sara610

    Something else that you said really stuck with me–something about “kids are kids and parents are parents”. Maybe it’s because of the extreme egalitarianism of modern America, where everyone is considered to be totally equal and worthy, but there’s this weird message that I feel like modern parents get that your kids are equal to you, and therefore they should go everywhere you go and do everything you do. And that often gets translated to “Parents (but especially mothers) don’t have the right to simply do what they need to do, without explaining or justifying it to their kids.”

    I’m a kid of the 80s, and my mom felt absolutely no guilt about taking time to do what she needed to take care of her physical and mental well-being. For her, it was going for long walks, alone or with a friend, several times a week. So she would walk into the room when we were little, announce that she was going for a walk and she’d be back in 45 minutes or an hour or a couple of hours, and that was it. No, we couldn’t go with her. No, she wasn’t going to stay home and play with us instead. No cell phones, so we couldn’t call her if we needed help with something. And she didn’t feel the need to explain or justify or apologize for going on her walks or getting her hair done or whatever. I think that set a great model for me as a mom–you can love your kids and be an attentive mother, but you have to be able to take care of yourself without guilt or doing it “because it makes me a better mom”. If it makes you a better mom, then great, but moms should be able to take care of themselves just because. Because it makes them feel beautiful, or happy, or calm, or whatever, JUST FOR OURSELVES. Because you don’t give up the right to take care of your own happiness when you become a parent, and God knows no one else is going to do it for you.

  • blossomsquare

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  • Smitty

    The first thing we did when we purchased our house was to convert the porch off the kitchen into a playroom. It’s a safe space with all the toys and I can leave my toddler in there to play while I get stuff done around the house. I love peeking in there and watching her playing. I think being able to amuse yourself is a wonderful thing and my toddler wouldn’t know how to do that if I spent all my time hovering.

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