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Mama, do you like to play with your kids, but can’t stand the activities they usually choose?
You’re not alone.
I love spending time with my kids, teaching them, talking to them and discovering with them.
But I absolutely can not stand playing pretend.
Doing the little Barbie voices, paying for plastic food at the toy cash register…
No sir, I don’t like it.
Luckily, my kids have plenty of opportunities for pretend play with their peers.
So instead of wasting time feeling bad about what I do not do as a mama, I’m going to share the ways that you can play with your kids that I love.
Here are 9 ways to play with your kids that aren’t annoying.
1. Play a board game.
Monopoly Junior is my seven-year-old daughter’s favorite “real” game.
I like that it reinforces reading, counting, and following directions.
2. Draw together.
We love these Ed Emberley books for learning to draw just about anything.
But recently we have also tried out these Walter Foster Jr. books and we really like them a lot too.
They’re kind of like a coloring book, a story book, a sticker book and a drawing lesson all rolled into one.
3. Color together.
I’m guessing that you have as many coloring books lying around your home as we do.
Pull out the fancy crayon caddy that your toddler hasn’t gotten to yet, and just enjoy the company of your child as you color together.
These quiet moments are often the times my daughter will share what’s in her imagination or on her mind.
I never know what’s going to come out of her mouth and I really enjoy hearing what’s on her heart.
4. Use a craft kit.
I don’t know what started this trend, but it seems like for every birthday and holiday my daughter receives at least three new make-your-own or do-it-yourself boxed kits of some sort.
We’ve gotten lip gloss, perfume, blankets, purses, a birdhouse and even a glow-in-the-dark fairy garden terrarium.
You get to work with your child to complete a project.
And she gets to practice reading and following instructions.
5. Read to her or let her read to you.
I like to switch this up, letting my daughter read to me sometimes instead.
Or I’ll ask her to read a book to her little brother and I.
It’s kind of a trick to get her practicing reading, and it usually works.
6. Give each other makeovers.
So, this one only works with little girls.
But it’s still fun.
I usually let my daughter use some of my “special” makeup for this.
And if her little brother is napping, we do our nails with non-toxic Piggy Paint nail polish that she got as a gift.
7. Put together a puzzle.
My kids pretty much only do puzzles when I suggest it.
I enjoy showing them how to sort the pieces into corners, edges and middle pieces, and then follow the picture on the box.
Melissa & Doug make great educational puzzles that are easy to wipe clean.
I love this one that’s a map of the United States.
It lists each state capital, which is something we are working on memorizing this year with my second grader in our homeschool.
8. Play a pencil and paper game.
When I was a little girl, I loved to play pencil and paper games with my mom.
We played the classics, like hangman and tic tac toe, but she also taught me games from her childhood.
One of my favorite is called “dots” where players take turns connecting two dots to make a line.
The object of the game is to complete the fourth side of a square on your turn and then put your initial in the box.
The player with the most initials on the board at the end of the game wins.
I was so excited to find this book of Pencil and Paper Games made by Usborne, at a book party that one of my girlfriends hosted a few months ago.
There are classics as well as new games that my daughter and I love learning together.
9. Put together a Lego kit.
We discovered these Lego Disney princess kits last year when my daughter brought one back from a trip to Disney World with my in-laws.
She started with Ariel, but we have ordered a few more since then.
I love the fact that directions include pictures, so even non-readers can follow along.
And I also like that these kits encourage us to work together on something.
We usually get a system going where I find the pieces she needs, and my daughter puts them together.
And if I save the box and instructions, I can resell the kit to fund a new one on eBay once my daughter has put it together and played with it for a few months.
How To Actually Enjoy When You Play With Your Kids
You can absolutely become a mom who does not just tolerate playing with her kids, and who actually enjoys spending this time playing with them.
Imagine that the next time your little one asks, “Will you play with me mommy?” you can answer affirmatively and happily.
And stop living with the guilt that comes either form turning her down or loathing every second of that playtime.
You can spend hours each week engaged in play with your kids and loving it.
Which activity will you have ready to go the next time your kids look to you for entertainment?
Let us know what other ideas you have in the comments.