I Won't Expect You to Play with My Kids

I've seen a few FB posts recently regarding grandparents and their lack of engaging in playtime with their grandkids.

Here are my thoughts on the subject as it pertains to my children: 
I won't ever expect you to "play" with my kids.
Even if you are their grandparent, their uncle, their aunt, their neighbor.

If you found freedom in what you just read, good!

Please don't ever feel obligated to plop down on the floor and build cities out of legos with them or make a pretend cake in their kitchen.

Don't feel like you must go on a bear hunt in the backyard or that you need to imagine that their jungle gym is a zoo and they are the monkeys and you are the zookeeper.

Some adults love to pretend with kids. Most don't.

And, that's okay!

Feel free to say, "no thank you. But I sure do enjoy watching you!"

I don't like to pretend.  The Husband doesn't like to.  We do imagine with them occasionally, but it's usually to get them started off on their own imagination journey, and then we set them loose to play on their own.  We love watching them use their imaginations, however.  It's a thing of beauty to watch my 4-year-old become a pirate and say things like, "Ahoy there, Matey! Avast!" and my 3-year-old become Little Red Riding Hood gathering flowers for her granny and shrieking as her brother (the big bad wolf) chases her down.

As a family, we read together and sing.  We occasionally play board games.  We cook meals.  We have experiences.  But, I VERY rarely sit and imagine FOR them.  I want them to hone that precious skill, and my interference usually ends in them not pretending anymore.  So, I step back, I encourage, and I move on to a task that needs tending to.  And, would you believe it? They actually entertain themselves.

For pretend play, we encourage room-time separately and outside time together (where there's room to explore and pretend away from each other if tempers flare).

Both afford them ample opportunities to imagine and engage in pretend play independently and with someone else who enjoys that activity.


Nowadays, it seems that many people expect their relatives and close friends to play with their kids, and I just don't have that expectation. I do, however, love when our adult relatives and close friends enjoy being around our kids enough to watch them play or have conversations with them.

I loved my grandparents and all of my aunts and uncles (I still do!), and other than playing some card games as a family or the occasional tea party I had with my Grammy, none of them engaged in playtime with me.  When I spent days with my mom's parents, I played by myself.  They had a game/toy/craft closet that I was allowed to take things out of.  I spent hours in the guest bedroom imagining it was my castle; that bed was so high off the ground that I even played under the bed or pretended I was a princess on top of 20 mattresses with a pea underneath.  I may have asked my grandmother to play with me, but I don't remember her ever saying, "yes."  I do remember, though, going on walks in the neighborhood with her.  I remember her taking me around her expansive garden and telling me about all of her roses and her cherry tree and gathering peapods and making mudpies on their tiny porch. I remember her fixing my favorite meals and reading to me and singing with me.  I remember she would let me help her fix cakes and water her indoor plants.  I remember my PaPa putting a refrigerator box in the middle of their living room, cutting a door and a window into it, and setting me loose to pretend.

I have so many priceless memories of spending time with relatives, and not one of those is a memory of playing pretend with them.  I don't think I ever expected adults to "play" with me, but I certainly loved spending time with them.  I loved being included in family card/domino games.  I loved curling up with my Grammy in her rocking chair and listening to her recount stories from her childhood. I love her because she loved me.


If you want to sit down and play a board game with my kids, bless you! If you want to gather them in your lap and read them fairy tales and adventures, be my guest!  If you want to teach them a fun song or rhyme, awesome! If you want to kick a ball around with them in the yard or teach them how to do a cartwheel, I won't stop you.  If you want to put them on a stool and bake cupcakes or fix scrambled eggs with them, do it! Give them moments to remember you by.

But don't ever feel like you, an adult, need to play with my kids.  They're kids.  They can and should entertain themselves :)  It's good for them to not feel like they need to be entertained by those around them.  It's good for them to not need a phone/ipad in their hands or a tv to keep them occupied (an entirely different post for another day).  It's good for them to use those imaginations the Lord gave them.  It will benefit them sooo much in the long run.

Because without dreamers and wonderers and thinkers and imaginers, where would we all be?

Let them play! Let them dream.  Let them imagine.
Let them be David fighting Goliath. 

"The world is but a canvas to the imagination." Henry David Thoreau

And you?  You take a seat on the couch/the bench/the chair next to me. We'll enjoy watching these little people with so much energy and ponder aloud where they get it all and what we would do if we had all of that stamina.  We'll sip our drinks and laugh as they are the three little pigs running from the big bad wolf or they go fishing with sticks on the boat they're pretending the playground has become.

Let's be adults and let them be kiddos.  It's good for all of us :)


  1. I feel you were wanting pictures of you and your Grammy for this blog, and I'm sorry I haven't provided any yet. I promise you I will start pulling out albums and drawers to see what I can find for you. I think it is wonderful that you are giving Jack and Ella the freedom to let their imaginations run wild. You are right - they will benefit from this ability as they grow older and be smarter for it. You are a fantastic mother and your instincts are wonderful. Love you.

    1. Thanks, Momma!
      If you can find a picture or two, that would be wonderful. ❤️


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