Did you know that, statistically, it’s quite unusual for an only child to go on to have more than one child of their own? As an only child, I can kind of understand it. People with siblings imagine that only children are lonely, but if you’ve been one, you know that being an only child is really pretty great. Despite all of that, I have two children and the reason for that is actually related to my only child status. The reason I wanted two children was because, I hate playing. I remember my Mum spending hours playing with me as a child. I was very lucky, she was utterly selfless and more than willing to spend her time joining in with my made up games. However, I couldn’t bear the thought of it. I figured if I had two children, they would play with each other and at least let me off the hook some of the time.
What do I have against Playing?
So, why do I hate playing so much? There are actually a few reasons. Firstly, I’m really not good at being unproductive. As much as I know that playing with my kids isn’t a waste of time, I will always feel like there are other things I could be doing.
Secondly, my children are bossy (and I have only myself to blame for it). When I try to play with them it seems like they are constantly telling me off because I’m doing it wrong. The trouble is, I rarely know what “it” is or how I’m supposed to do it.
Finally, I just find it really bloody boring. I know that some adults are playful by nature and enjoy the chance to relive their childhoods but I’m definitely not one of them. For me, pretending I’m a train driver or brushing Barbie’s hair are incredibly tedious and I’d rather be doing just about anything else.
What it’s like playing with my Kids
One of my kid’s favourite things to do is role play. Many of their games start with the phrase “let’s pretend” at which point my heart always sinks. Even if I take them to the playground, we still have to pretend to be something. A ninja, a superhero, a dog, a soldier. God forbid we just be regular folk.
Now that Boy Child is older, he’s very into football. The minute poor Chris walks in from work he gets dragged into a match. This would be fine, Chris loves football, except that Boy Child is not the best loser. Most of these matches end with Boy Child storming off because Chris is playing by the rules and he isn’t.
Girl Child is still rather fond of small world play. Not the traditional small world toys like farms and dolls houses you understand. Her preferences are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and figures based on Minecraft. These figures are then pitted against each other in a battle. Somehow I always end up on the losing side (usually after having been shouted at multiple times for doing it wrong).
The other major pastime in our house is Lego. Now left to my own devices, I could probably get quite into Lego. Unfortunately, the children are having none of it. When they ask me to “Play Lego” with them, what they actually mean is “Spend the whole time looking for the specific pieces we need in the bottom of the endless Lego tubs.” Really not as much fun as building something myself but is at least better than being made to pretend I am Cat Boy.
What do I like doing with my Kids?
Quite a lot actually. I love talking to them, ideally one to one. I’ve found we have our best chats when we’re out doing errands so will often drag one of them along with me while the other stays at home with Chris. In fact, I like going out with them in general. I’ve always enjoyed taking them to new places and now they’re older and starting to enjoy things I get something out of, like museums and zoos, it’s even better.
I live reading with them. I don’t mind if they read to me or I read to them, I just like sharing stories. As long as I can do it one to one, I like it when we bake together. I’ve also discovered they are now old enough to enjoy board games and card games. I find this type of play much less boring.
Am I a Bad Mum?
I don’t think so. I used to have a lot of guilt about not playing with them as much as I should but I still couldn’t bring myself to do. These days I’m feeling more ok with it. I have one day a week after school where I am one to one with each child. If they really want me to play in those times, I do it. I spend plenty of quality time with them doing other things. They also have other members of the family, that they see regularly, who are happy to play with them. Plenty of child development experts have highlighted the importance of independent play without adult interference so in some ways I’ve probably done them a favour.
Do you enjoy playing with your children? If not, do you feel guilty about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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