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I Hate Playing With My Kids

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My 5-year-old wants to play Witchy Witch. Every family probably plays some version of this game. It’s basically mom (or dad) pretending to be someone scary while running after the kids who laugh and squeal and run until one of them pees his or her pants or exhausts his or herself, or me. Usually, it’s me, as pretending to be a witch with world-class running skills can be very exhausting.

The game started as a way to wear my kids out at the end of the day. “If I exhaust them before bedtime,” I’d think to myself, “Then, they’ll be exhausted!” The problem is, the game is really fun—for them. And so, they want to play over and over again. All. Day. Long.

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Truth be told, I get a little (a lot, actually) bored of playing Witchy Witch and Chima (where my son wants me to act out all the characters in the Lego “Chima” show). And now that the little one is 2, she’s getting in on the act. Just this morning, she decided 6:15 was an appropriate waking time, and instead of “good morning” or any kind of greeting when I staggered through the door, she said three of the most dreaded words a parent can hear: Play. With. Me. Then she grabbed my finger and dragged me to the playroom. Who knew 2-year-olds had such arm strength? This, all before 6:30 in the morning.

I feel bad because I think I’m supposed to enjoy playing with my kids. I love my kids, but if I never again utter the words, “You be the vampire, I’ll be the werewolf,” I’ll be thrilled. I love doing stuff with my kids, I just don’t want to have to do it pretending I’m a viking or a very small fairy.

In the past, I’ve gone through the endless hours of imaginary play for fear of my kids taking my game-hate personally, which they shouldn’t. But now, I’ve come up with this helpful survival guide.

1. Set a Time Limit

Sure, it’s fun to have mommy chase you through the house, but mommy wore heels to work and her knees are killing her. So instead of feeling like the Tin Man creaking through kid’s games, set a time limit that’s long enough for them to feel satisfied and short enough for you to feel like you’ve still got your sanity in check.

The truth is it’s OK for kids to think other people beside themselves (gasp!) have needs.

2. Pick Something You Do Like to Do With Your Kids

If you’re like me, there are certain things you love to do with your kids—time passes quickly and everyone seems to be having a good time. And then there’s the stuff that makes time stand still. So if playing games with your kids is excruciatingly dull, do a cooking project. Or, crank up the tunes for a dance party. Your kids won’t know the difference, but you will!

3. Say, "No."

As parent, it seems so cruel to say, “No, I don’t feel like it right now. Let’s do something else.” But the truth is, it’s OK for kids to think other people beside themselves (gasp!) have needs. Sometimes a, “No, how about tomorrow?” can lead to a discovery of something the whole family wants to do—not just the kiddos.

4. Remember, Someday They're Going to College

Sure, your kids are set on playing Candy Land for the 400th time (today), but probably what they really want is just to spend time with you. Ask any parent of a 13-year-old, and they’ll tell you the time goes so fast and quickly that 2-year-old pulling you toward the playroom will turn into a 13-year-old slamming the door in your face. (Cue tears and sad music.) So enjoy the hour spent playing boring kid’s games. You’ll miss it.

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5. For God's Sake, Turn on the TV

A few years ago, I made a very stupid house rule that stated my kids only watch TV on weekend nights. That’s two hours a week, friends, leaving a gazillion more hours for them wanting to be entertained by me. Learn from my mistake. If God didn’t want children to be entertained by television, he never would have invented it.

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