Play with me, Mama!


We hear it a thousand times a day. It’s always in the middle of a chore or right after we sit down with a hot cup of coffee.

“Play with me, Mama!” 

Why is it that that phrase can fill me with so much disdain? Why is it that I can feel so irked at the mere suggestion of play time with my child? When did I become such a horrible out-of-touch grumpus mom? I know you’re all thinking something along these lines…and I’m here to validate that. I’m also here to give you a short piece of advice that has been zapping the mom guilt around this subject.

Get ready for a big ah-hah.

The next time your kid asks you to play or watch or read with them, do it. Stop what you’re doing right then and there, and do it. You won’t want to. You may have an initial reaction of “wait until I’m done with xyz” but stop yourself right there. Literally put down the half scrubbed dish, don’t finish wiping up the spill, bring your hot coffee down onto the ground with you, and play with them

  1. you WON’T regret it.
  2. I have found that it often only takes 2-3 minutes of mildly involved play-time before there’s a natural break in the activity and your child won’t mind you standing up to finish whatever you were just doing.

A friend helped me to understand my young child by explaining kid’s need to inhale their parent and that there will naturally be an exhale shortly if you don’t fight them on that inhale. Have you ever noticed your kid just run up to you out of nowhere and give you a big hug and tell you they love you? You are shocked and melted and start to give them big squishy hug back and they slip right through your arms to go play again. This is the inhale and exhale. They all do it naturally. So I’m suggesting that when your kid asks you to play, they’re asking to inhale you. Have you ever noticed when you keep postponing your child’s request that they keep asking over and over? Or they come get in your personal space and whine? This is a response to you fighting their urge to inhale you. Let them inhale you. When they ask to play, just play. Give them 5 minutes to inhale. The more often you do this without postponing them, the easier it will be for you to disengage them and return to adulting. 

Plus, you might just feel better too.

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Karli Haviland
I am a Flagstaff local from toddlerhood. I went to FALA for high school and graduated from NAU with a BA in Secondary English Education. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we’re building our life with our toddler Moira, whom I stay at home with full time. My passion is working with pregnant people during their journey to and through birth and post partum as a birth doula and birth photographer, and I work with another doula in town to provide those services to the Flagstaff community. I dance and perform with a Modern Dance company several times a year, and I teach baby & me music and dance classes around town weekly. I enjoy reading, hiking with friends, and playing Zelda in my spare time.