If you’re bored playing with your kids, don’t worry: here are ways to bust the boredom and have fun.
Have you seen those parents who engage so well with their kids?
They read children’s books with inflection and change their voices for each character.
They rough house with gusto and never seem to tire.
And they build intricate structures out of Lego and wooden blocks.
Then there’s me.
I’m not always good at playing with my kids. Sitting still and solving a puzzle is a challenge, especially when I have a zillion other things to do. I’m affectionate, but I find yourself “faking” the fun of playing.
And the guilt creeps in.
I love laughing and tickling my kids, but I’ve also felt bored as a parent. I read to my kids but can’t maintain five minutes of the games my eldest will invent. And rough housing involves my husband running with our boys with me laughing at a safe distance.
Not all parents enjoy all play, but we can balance our kids’ expectations with our enjoyment.
What to do when you’re bored playing with your kids:
Involve the kids in your world.
Some of my happiest days are when my husband and I can go through our regular day with kids in tow. Kids loved sitting in the grocery cart? Score! Five-year-old helped us cook dinner? Awesome.
Playing kid stuff isn’t the only way to “play” with your kids. Why?
- They learn life skills like cooking and comparing grocery prices.
- Kids are always playing or learning. Pulling weeds and planting seeds in your garden is your task but their imagination land of bugs and dirt.
- If you’re happy, they’re happy. No, you don’t want to take them with you to a facial appointment at nine in the evening and have them wait for an hour. But involving your kids into your world can help balance your needs too.
- And perhaps most importantly, kids learn that other people have needs as well. They are not, in fact, the center of the universe.
Take turns with your partner.
Every parent has his or her own preference. Let’s say you dread playing “house” or make believe but your husband does. Designate him as the go-to house-mate. Meanwhile, you can play hide-and-seek or Simon Says instead.
Get out of the house.
It’s easy to get bored playing with your kids at home. You’re used to this environment and repeat the same games. And at home, you feel the urge to do chores or take care of tasks, distracting you from playing with your kids.
But out of the house, you have less of an excuse not to play, even when tasks run through your mind. You can’t do anything about the dishes piled in the kitchen when you’re at the park, for instance.
You’ll also have more fun because outings can be new for you. Taking them to an indoor playground breaks the monotony. You’re likely to play because the environment is new or different for everyone.
Involve the kids in activities you don’t like.
Sounds strange to combine two things you may not look forward to. But folding laundry might be more fun because your child is nearby.
“Play” is anything fun to your kids. Play peek-a-boo with the laundry clothes, or sit her in the hamper while you toss clothes over her head. A boring task now isn’t so bad, you get the job done, and you and your child play together.
Compromise and limit your play time.
My son will beg to play a game I’m not excited about right when I’m in the middle of something else. I’ll agree, but I explain I can only play for 15 minutes.
It seems harsh, but putting a time limit helps you realize this isn’t forever. You may enjoy yourself more because you’re relishing the moment instead of wondering when to sneak out. Plus, your child will understand when you have to finish the game after your agreed time slot is over.
It’s okay to not like playing.
Our play-obsessed western culture values playing and hovering at a much higher rate than other cultures. This is all relative—what is enough play for one family may be different from another. And it’s okay if you don’t like playing with your kids all the time.
Because you’re not five-years-old. You don’t get the same excitement out of peeling stickers or jumping on one leg or building rocket ships. You probably did in the past… when you were five-years-old.
Playing with kids draws out the kid in us, but it’s also okay to play along and not feel as excited as your kid. You’re there to guide him through his enjoyment, not to enjoy it with the same zest and zeal as he does.
Enjoy it while it lasts.
Lastly, keep things in perspective. By far, this is the tip I tell myself anytime I complain about my kids. Whether they’re clinging to my leg or begging to play, I remind myself that this won’t last forever. Soon my kids won’t want to play these fun games at home or insist on being entertained 24/7.
They’ll grow up.
And those moments where we play—even when we’re not excited about it—will be a memory. Enjoy the moment, the puppet play, the building blocks. The zillions of times they want to keep dancing or racing from one room to the next.
When you know how finite time is, you’re more likely to enjoy it.
Want a few more ideas? Download my FREE play ideas calendar, perfect for after work! The first sheet includes ideas for the weekdays, while the second is a blank template to fill with your own ideas. Download it below:
Want to read more posts about play? Check these out:
- The Benefits of Playing with Open-Ended Toys (plus a List of My Favorites)
- Encourage Independent Play with Your Kids
- The Benefits of Pretend Play
- Do You Suffer from Parental Boredom?
Your turn: Do you get bored playing with your kids? What activities do you enjoy playing with them the most, and which ones do you dread? Let me know in the comments!