How to Cope when You’re Bored Playing with Your Kids

Suffering from parental boredom? Sometimes playing with kids get tiresome. Here are tips when you’re bored playing with your kids.

Bored Playing with Your KidsOn many days, I’m on top of my parenting game. I read with the kids, make a few crafts, and encourage them to help me cook in the kitchen. On those days, I’m an A+ mom.

But then I have the other days. The days when being a parent can get, admittedly… boring.

These are the days when I can only take so much of fiddling with a puzzle over and over and watching them play with crayons and dominoes. Days like these, I’m ready to either conk out with exhaustion or itching to get through my list of tasks.

It doesn’t help when I’m home with them all day with nowhere to go.

How do you cope with the boredom—and even the guilt that comes from that boredom?

When you’re bored playing with your kids

I’m certain I’m not alone. We’ve all been bored playing the same board game or round of basketball. Never mind that your energy comes zooming back in the minute your kids are down for the night. Some days, boredom takes over so much of your day that you’re barely awake come the end of it.

So, how do you cope when you’re bored out of your mind playing with your kids? How do you stop feeling guilty when you’d rather do something else?

1. Compromise and limit play time

Does it drive you nuts when your kids beg you to play a game right when you’re in the middle of (or just started to do) something else? I’ll literally sit down at my desk to squeeze in some work when someone will ask to play or read.

Of course, kids should be playing and reading, but trying to get other things done can make spending time with them difficult.

A compromise? Agree to play but for a set amount of time.

Maybe you let them know you can play card games for 15 minutes, or that you’ll read two books before making dinner.

It seems harsh, but putting a time limit helps in several ways. For one thing, you’re able to do both things—play and other tasks—even if in limited amounts of time. You’re also setting expectations so that they know either when you can start playing or when you’ll need to step out of the game.

And lastly, you’ll probably enjoy your time instead of itching to do something else, especially when you know you’ll have time for both.

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2. Play activities you actually enjoy

Parental boredom often happens because we subject ourselves to activities we don’t enjoy. I’m not a “roughhousing” kind of parent, and don’t always playing catch outdoors. I secretly groan when my kids want to play hide-and-seek or ask me to chase them around the house.

But I do enjoy reading books, creating with play dough, building a tower of blocks, and playing board games.

If you find yourself bored out of your mind, suggest activities you enjoy, or at least don’t mind. You might not like going on a scavenger hunt, but you love having the kids help you cook in the kitchen. Or perhaps you can’t take another jigsaw puzzle, but you’re fine building a fort out of pillows and blankets with them.

Get easy activities for 3 year olds.

Easy Activities for 3 Year Olds You Can Do Any Day

3. Take turns with your partner

Remember how I don’t exactly love roughhousing with the kids? Thankfully my husband is more than happy to oblige.

If you and your partner have certain preferences for how to play with the kids, take turns playing with them in activities you each enjoy. Let’s say you dread playing “house” or pretend play, but your spouse can play hours of it with your toddler.

Perhaps he’s not in the mood to play hide-and-seek or Simon Says, but these are games you enjoy. Tag-team with each other to find which activities you like to play with your kids.

4. Involve your 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 wanted to pull weeds from the yard? Score! Five-year-old helped us cook dinner? Awesome.

Playing kid stuff isn’t the only way to “play” with your kids. In fact, they benefit so much from being involved in your world. Why?

  • They learn life skills like cooking and comparing grocery prices.
  • They’re 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. Involving them in your world helps balance your needs too.
  • They learn that other people have needs as well. They’re not always the center of the universe.

Invite them to join you for a yoga workout, or check out movies on a rainy day. They’ll enjoy being part of your own interests.

Life Skills Your Child Needs

5. Involve your kids in activities you don’t like

It might seem strange to combine playing with your kids and an activity you don’t look forward to. But I’ve found that these dreaded activities turn out not-so-bad when my kids are actually around.

Folding laundry might be more fun because your kids are nearby to keep your company. After all, “play” is anything fun to them. You might play peek-a-boo with the baby using laundry clothes, or sit your toddler in the hamper while you toss clothes over her head.

The result? A boring task now isn’t so bad, you got the job done, and you and your kids played together.

6. Let your kids play alone

We don’t always have to entertain or be with our kids 24/7. Time alone is good for them, allowing them to tinker during downtime, develops independence, and think creatively.

Playing “alone” doesn’t have to literally mean alone. You can pull out a book and read near them as they play with magnet tiles. Or take notes and write in your journal while they build with Lego pieces. You can even do chores as they run around in the yard.

An extra perk of this unstructured time? Not only do you finish tasks you want or need to do, but they see you doing so. They learn from seeing you read for pleasure or commit to finishing a pile of laundry.

Kids Need Downtime

7. Find new activities

You might be bored playing with your kids because you’ve been doing the same thing every day. In other words, you’re stuck in a rut.

Find new things you can do, whether through a quick browse online, or by writing a list ahead of time and going through them each day. Keep the new activity simple, and to one activity per day. Maybe you’ll open a box of new watercolors, or bring out the old sticker book stashed in the drawer.

You can even create an agenda and assign “subjects” like math, reading, and social studies. And rotate toys so that old ones can get played with again while putting your current ones away for now.

8. It’s okay to not like playing

Our play-obsessed culture values playing and hovering, don’t you think? This is all relative—what is enough play for one family may be different from another. In other words, 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 from 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 them. You’re there to guide them through their enjoyment, not to always enjoy it with the same enthusiasm as they do.

9. 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, playing or not. Whether they’re clinging to my leg or begging to play, I remind myself that their childhood won’t last forever. Soon they won’t want to play these games at home or insist on having my attention.

And those moments when we play—even when I’m 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.


I love my kids, but I still have those days where I’d rather be alone than play with them. Thankfully, we can find ways to cope with the boredom.

For one thing, compromise and limit play time so you and your kids have clear expectations of when it’ll end. Play fun activities you actually enjoy, tag-teaming with your partner for those you don’t. Involve them in your world, including those you don’t exactly love (having them around might make it more fun!).

Let them play alone, even if you’re sitting nearby doing something else. Find new activities to break up your routine. Remind yourself that it’s okay to not be as excited about play time. And lastly, enjoy it while it lasts—the ultimate reminder that this is all temporary, boredom and all.

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  1. One of my biggest parenting challenges is trying to be enthused when playing with my three-year old daughter. It seems that whenever I settle down with her to play with her and her toys, or to participate in her pretend games (by her request), I suddenly feel very sleepy and disinterested, and it becomes tedious. So I often wonder, should I even try to play with her, or is she better off by herself ? I fantasize how nice it would be to not feel bad not to play with her, and feel good only doing the other things I like doing with her, such as doing tasks around the house and garden, and also reading books. Also, when I try to play with her, she constantly jumps from one toy or game to another (normal), and its just so disorienting for me, I can’t keep up, I find myself turning into a zombie.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      It’s definitely easy to feel guilty and confused about being bored playing with our kids. There are activities my kids ask me to do that I’m not very interested in. Or I’ll like some board games but not others.

      If they ask me to play, then I’ll oblige, knowing it’s important to them. But I won’t force myself to play endlessly—I’ll give myself a time limit so that I know I won’t be doing this the entire day.

      It’s also okay if you say “no,” too, or to ask her if you can play later or another day. Sometimes you’re just so not in the mood that you can’t muster the energy. If you balance this with agreeing to play with her, then hopefully it makes those activities more enjoyable for the both of you.

  2. I feel guilty not wanting to play with my son.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      It’s definitely rough dealing with the guilt of not wanting to play, especially when there’s an expectation of engaging with our kids 24/7. One thing that has really helped me is to do activities I also enjoy with my kids. You can bring him along or do a simplified version of it with him. Also, it’s okay for kids to do independent play while we’re nearby. For instance, he can play with a toy while you read a book on the couch next to him.

      Either way, know that you’re not alone, mama!