All stay-at-home-moms know how busy a day can be. You start off with making breakfast. Then comes feeding, bathing, wiping, cleaning, and doing whatever stuff your kids need you to do. There’s also laundry and the dishes! You also need some time for that side-hustle you’re working on. Before you know it, it’s time to cook dinner.
With all these chores, all too often, we’re too busy or too tired to actually play with our kids. When my kids ask me to play with them, my responses are mostly:
- “Sorry, baby, mommy has to finish washing the dishes.”
- “Just a minute, I’m almost done with this.”
- “I can’t right now, I have to clean this up.”
- “Alright, but, just for a few minutes..”
It’s also true for working dads and moms.
You come home at the end of a long day feeling exhausted. You just want to put your feet up and chill out. However, just as you sit back, your kids come running, “Mommy! Daddy! Please play with me! Please!?” In that moment, playing with your kids will feel like a chore. Most of the time, you end up responding with:
- “Maybe later, ok? Daddy needs to rest.”
- “I can’t right now, baby. Mommy is so tired.”
- “You go ahead, I’ll catch up later.”
Our responses may be completely valid for us, adults. But for kids, it’s a BIG DEAL!
Just the other day when I was cleaning the room, my daughter asked me to play with her and her dolls. I quickly replied with, “I can’t, baby. I’m cleaning the room.”
Just as she was turning away, I saw the undeniable disappointment in her face. It broke my heart!
Later that day, I had a chat with her. I asked her what she feels every time Mommy or Daddy can’t play with her. She said, “I feel sad. I just want to play with you.“
Those words kept me up that night.
Children are young and can’t articulate what’s really in their minds and hearts. What if, by saying “please play with me”, they actually mean something else. Come to think of it, with all the times that my kids asked or pulled my hand to join them to play, most of the time, my answer was “I can’t.“
What if, saying “Please play with me“, really means…
“Mommy, please spend time with me!”
“Please like me. I feel like I’m not important.”
“Am I as fun as the stuff in your cellphone?”
“Dad, Mom, am I your priority?”
“I want to show you something I did all by myself. Please appreciate me!”
“Am I as much fun as scrolling through Facebook or chatting with your friends?”
“Do you enjoy being my mommy? Do you enjoy being my daddy?”
“Please invest your time in my life so that we have a solid foundation when I grow up.”
Now, can you hear what they are REALLY saying when they ask you to play with them?
This realization has changed my entire outlook on parenting. While I cannot just drop everything to play with them every time they ask, I try to accept their request 75% of the time. Also, during those times that I really cannot grant their request, I explain to them why that is and promise to catch up with them later.
Housework can wait, but their childhood won’t. Don’t miss your chance to play with them.
When they grow up, they won’t remember that the living room was always spotless. They won’t remember that you spent so much time removing the stain from their clothes.
What they will happily recall is that you chose to play with them and that they are important enough for you to stop whatever you were doing to just enjoy being with them.
Until next time,