3 things to say when your child wants you to play (but you literally can't muster up the energy)
I don't know about you, but I am starting to feel a little 'played out.'
I know my kids love it when I play with them – and I love it too, I really do. And I know I will miss their eager to include me once they no longer want or need me to such an extent.
But still – I am also trying to do my own work during this lockdown. And trying to clean and cook and plan their 'homework' for tomorrow and generally just keep us all alive and well here.
So sometimes, I just don't have the time – or desire – to play.
And I am sure I am not alone in this right now.
The thing is, we all want to be there for our children, and we know from countless studies that play is actually all sorts of good for both kids – and adults too. However, there is no getting away from the fact that being a parent is full-on, right now more so than ever, and there are things you genuinely need to be getting on with – even if that includes trying to get a little rest after a long day. So how do you do it? How do you let them down?
Well, for starters, teaching your child that sometimes you have to say no to things is no bad life lesson in itself. And kids are smart. If you say 'yes' to playing with them, but your mind really is elsewhere - or worse – you are half looking at your phone or the TV while you are supposedly playing, they will know. And much as they want you to play, half the fun will be gone when they feel like you don't really want to be there, doing what you are doing.
But there are ways around it – things you can say in situations like these that'll be kind to both you and your child – and that'll make it easier to really enjoy the times you do have time to play.
The next time you find yourself in this scenario, try any of these phrases:
1. "Mummy can play for a few minutes – then I need to start dinner"
I don't know about your kids, but mine are of the kind that sometimes needs help getting started when it comes to playing. This phrase works great then in that you will let them know you can start the game with them, and play a little bit, and then they are free to continue playing away without you, knowing that you have something you have to be getting on with. Sometimes this can even be done with a board game, you can just let it be known you are still in the game, but one of them have to throw the dice for you when it's your go, as you're a bit tied up.
2. "Do you just want to read for a little bit instead?"
This one is just a godsend when you are just too tired to play princesses or build Lego structures. Sometimes when your child asks you to play, what they are really asking is 'can you spend some one-on-one time with me?' And so in those cases, just sitting together on the sofa and reading a book might just be enough.
Suggesting another activity than the one your child did is also a good lesson in that they don't get to pick all the time – again, there is a life lesson in there.
3. "Mummy has to fold these clothes, but you can help if you want?"
When you genuinely have things to do, there is no harm in suggesting your child come do them with you. It's a win-win. You are not dismissing their request to spend time with you, but you are also giving them a choice, they can either go play without you or come help you with the task you are doing. Chances are they'll join you for a bit, then wander off.
Also – it is also a great way to teach them to help you out with stuff – just saying!