11 Aug
The Play’s The Thing

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I don’t mind doing the things I am supposed to do with my 4-year-old son, but I really don’t like playing with him. How can I enjoy our time together?


Scott In Dallas


Dear Scott,

First of all, thank you for writing in and expressing a concern that not a lot of parents are willing to cop to. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that one of the secret shames of many moms and dads is that they can’t stand playing tea party or Star Wars or anything that involves them potentially getting hit in the privates with a Nerf product. I know there’ve been many days when I was willing to just slip my boys cash if I could get out of yet another round of “Who’s the Poopy Head?” (Or this horrible game.)

But here’s the thing: you many not like playing with your son, but he LOVES playing with his Dad. I would go so far as to say that out of all his friends and relatives, you’re his Number One Favorite. And for that reason, it’s crucial that you find something tolerable, maybe even fun, that you can do together.

Let’s start with what you liked playing as a kid. Tag? Hide and Seek? Sports? Or more sedate games like Move the Toy Firetruck on the Carpet and Make Siren Noises? Think back to what you enjoyed and introduce it to him if he doesn’t already play it. A little enthusiasm will go a long way.

The other thing to try is a concept called “The World is Your Playground.” (I just made that up—not bad, huh?) You said you don’t mind doing the things you’re “supposed to do,” so take the extra step and make them fun and playful. Driving to the store? See how many letter A’s you can spot. Giving him a bath? Demolish the soap bubbles like a brave knight. Shopping for groceries? Make fun of the ladies only buying cat food, Preparation H and tampons. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

Sometimes adults can feel a little foolish and self conscious when they’re playing with a child and acting silly, and that’s perfectly normal. But let it go. Get over yourself, dude. Because while you might feel like a total loser running around the yard in a Darth Vadar mask with a plastic light saber, I can guarantee you this: your son thinks you’re just about the coolest guy on the planet.

Have fun,

Wendi, TMH


14 Responses to “The Play’s The Thing”


Comment by rojopaul.

I always feel stupid when a toddler hands me a phone and I’m supposed to pretend to have a conversation. But I admit I was so happy with my first daughter that I would get to play with Barbies and dolls again. I love re-living my childhood playing with the things we played with. Great advice, Wendi!


Comment by Kelley.

Great advice, Wendi! I am using it, too. It is so true that everything is more fun for them if a parent is involved, especially the dad. They’ll be older before we know it & not wanting to play with us at all. Gotta go cry now!


Comment by StephanieG.

Kelly, your comment really hit home, and you totally put it in perspective. My 7-year old is an only child and she used to drive me nuts wanting me to play with her. Since she didn’t have siblings, I was always on Play Duty. Now she’s older and into her own things, and there are often entire days that go by that she’s not underfoot asking for time and attention. And there have been times when I’ve wanted to hang out with her and she’s just been too busy with her stuff to hang out with me. Sniff.

Scott, take time now while you can, because before you know it, your little playmate will be off in a world of his own, while you look on in stunned silence, nursing your own hurt feelings.


Comment by kwatson.

I can so relate to this post. I don’t mind playing for a little while, but man, my 3 year old wants to play all day long. It never stops…”play with me mama.”


Comment by Plano Mom.

My son is older, but with 10 bucks worth of PVC pipe and various joints from the big orange box, plus a couple bags of mini marshmallows, and they had a blast having marshmallow wars in the living and dining room. The dog ate most of the marshmallows, so it wasn’t even hard to clean up.


This is only one of many sites that come up. There’s also a potato gun, etc.

Now that was for boys. For girls, well my husband was willing to have his hair and nails done, plus he went to a LOT of Princess movies. I just made sure there was lots of polish and makeup remover in the house.

skrink Reply:

Oooh! This is awesome! I’m off to the hardware store ASAP. And, major props to the hubby who lets himself be styled. Sounds like a prince!


Comment by KJ.

This is why I taught my sons to play Blackjack.

SarcasticMoo Reply:

Nice, I’ll bring my kids over and we can have a tournament.


Comment by VG.

There’s always the sitgma that you have to have “happy” thoughts when it comes to your children, and THANK YOU Scott for removing that stigma!
It’s OKAY to voice your feelings about parenthood, even the negative ones (That’s what we should do, right?)
I have days where I would like my daughter to just sit and watch a 30 minute educational show just so I can catch a break, but she’s 16 months old, so you KNOW that’s not happening 🙂
But I have to side w/ the others and say grin & bear it. If this is the worst problem you’re having as a parent right now, GOD BLESS YA ;)**

** Please don’t persecute me for using a religious reference **


Comment by Kelly.

Another strategy is to get your son involved in what YOU like. This is not to say I advocate for becoming a psycho to force your kid to love your hobbies, but if you like golf, get him plastic clubs and hit wiffle balls in the yard with him. If you’re headed to the hardware store, take him with you and teach him the names of different tools. Kids can be distracted (at least sometimes) from mind-numbing games by engaging them in learning about “grown up” things.


Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

This hits home for me, too.


Comment by Albug.

I’d bet kevins dad had a problem playing with him. My son used to take his boys everywhere with him. They particularly loved going to a big box store and sitting on the tractors! LOL. What they loved then and what they love now (at 12 &10) is spending time with him, talking to him and helping him with projects. He had a little more difficulty with his daughter, but she also simply loves spending time with him. My older son has two daughters. I love seeing him play the Cindarella game where he has to put on earrings and a tiara.
They are both good Dads, but then they had a great teacher in their Dad.


Comment by Melody M.

I have a three year old daughter and she never runs out of energy. Since we moved away from all of our friends almost a year ago, it’s been hard for all of us. She only has us to play with mostly (meeting people in this neighborhood has not come easy) and when her daddy is out flying planes, all I have is her (which can be mind numbing at times, given the limited scope of her conversations). But we try to make our fun however we can and she has picked up our interests. When daddy is home, they have the shared interest of guitars and airplanes. We all play hide and seek, go to the park, go anywhere together and make it an outing. We play Candyland and other games, we have tea parties with her, snuggle on the couch watching her favorite shows over and over.
The thing about kids is that they want to do whatever mama and daddy are doing, they love to emulate us. So it’s easy to get them interested in our interests when they’re little- they just want to be included. And they’re learning all the time, everything is new to them for a time. Sure, sometimes my brain is screaming for her to stop chattering for two seconds so I can think, but I know someday, she’ll be doing her own thing. And considering how fast ‘now’ got here, I don’t have a lot of time to cram it all in. Try seeing everything through their eyes- you did at one time!


Comment by (Step) Mama Drama | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] am the proud (step) mom of a lovely 4-year-old little lady, with whom I share an incredibly close bond.   I have been wearing my “mommy” shoes […]

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