Pretend Play is Boring…How to Actually Enjoy Playing With Your Kids

Pretend Play is Boring…How to Actually Enjoy Playing With Your Kids

I’m standing in the kitchen, wiping off my hands after washing the breakfast dishes, when I hear his little running feet getting closer and closer.  Then I hear it.

“Mommy, Will You Play with Me?”

Sigh.  This sweet kid cannot entertain himself if his life depended on it.  Instead of pushing him off,  I respond with “sure kiddo, what do you want to do?”

Mental high-five. Go Me!

“Paw Patrol!  Oh, I LOVE Paw Patrol!  You be Chase, I’ll be Rider!  Let’s go!”  I take off running after my son, smiles on both of our faces.

I’m ready to do this thing, let’s PLAY!

We run around the house pretending to save a lost kid named Jake.  Honestly, I do not understand what we’re doing, but I’m following along with whatever directions he throws my way.

I say something about Chase grabbing a ladder to rescue Jake and it happens, “No Mommy! That’s not what Chase does, you’re doing it wrong! Jeeze!”  Oops, I got off script.

After a few  minutes of pretending and “doing it wrong” I’m feeling a bit agitated and bored.  I look for my out.

Laundry!  Oh, yes! I have laundry to fold.

“Hey kiddo, I had fun playing, but I need to go fold some laundry.  I promise we’ll play more later.”

Whew, I’m free.

As I’m walking away he says “Awe, Mom!” and hangs his little head.  Guilt smacks me straight in the gut.

“Why can’t I just play for more than just a few minutes?  Playing has gotten so tedious!”  

I want to play with him, unfortunately I don’t like to pretend play, which is his favorite thing right now.

We both get frustrated because playtime isn’t all that fun anymore.

This post is sponsored by GoNoodle.  All opinions are mine!

It was time to make a change.

I vowed to no longer say “I don’t want to play”, instead I’d say “I don’t want to play that.  Let’s do something we’d both enjoy.”

I’ve discovered that it isn’t what my son wants to play that matters, it’s who he’s playing with…me. He wants to spend time with me. I needed to come up with playful ideas that we’d both enjoy.

In order for this plan to work, I had to figure out what I wanted to do.  I had to rediscover how I like to play.

How Do You Like to Play?

Take a minute and think back to your childhood. How did you like to play?

Did you play with dolls and decorate their homes?  Were you a builder and creator of magnificent things?  Did you yearn to be outside digging in the dirt?  Did you spend most of your time with your nose in a book?

Remember things that you loved to do that you might enjoy doing with your kids now.

I loved to build, cook, and sing as a child.  So for fun playtime with my kids, I make block towers, bake cookies, and have silly dance parties while singing 80’s music at the top of our lungs.

Make playtime mutually enjoyable for everyone.

Get Active

By far the easiest and most fun way to play with my kids is by getting active.

I don’t mean going for a family jog, I mean tickle wars, wrestling matches, running laps around the house, and playing hide and seek. My boys are extremely active, and when I’m active and silly with them, we laugh harder than at any other time during the day.


Plus, when we get active, our pituitary gland excretes endorphins that make us feel good.  They literally give us feelings of euphoria.  So when we want to play and enjoy our time with our kids, get active and let the brain chemistry boost our mood too!

Get Techy

When you need to relax and you don’t have the energy to get active, try curling up on the couch with a tablet and play some cool apps together.

I love playing fun games on the tablet with my boys!   We get to be close to one another, use our brains to think, and laugh with each other.  It’s a perfect way to connect, if you’re playing the right type of apps.

I know you might be thinking that screen time is BAD!  Well, studies now show that screen time may not be all that terrible.  It’s all about moderation.

Our children are the first digital natives, born into a world of technology.  It’s our job to teach them how to navigate it.  Studies have shown that it’s best when parents are engaged with their children’s screen time.

So, hang out for a while and play Angry Birds or Mindcraft with your kid.  Enjoy that playful screen time with your child, instead of just handing over the tablet for them to play.

If you feel guilty about spending so much lazy time in front of a screen, I found the perfect thing!

It’s time to get up and start dancing!

Check out GoNoodle, it’s a FREE app that allows my boys and I to get active and enjoy technology at the same time, and we LOVE it!

GoNoodle has hundreds of activities, like Kids Zumba, The Kidz Bop, Yoga, and Stretching.  I really like their mindfulness activities that calm my kids down after an active session of dancing while also teaching calming skills.

This app gets us up and moving!  My kids think it’s fun, and I get a bit of a workout in too.


Since we moved to Alaska, where it’s cold and dark in the winter, this app keeps my kids moving when we can’t go outside and play.  It’s a lifesaver!

“Mommy, Will You Play With Me?”

Those words don’t immediately cause angst anymore.  Now, I can say  “Yes! Let’s play!” and I actually enjoy playtime with my kids.

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Essential Tips for Moving With Kids

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