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5 Ways to Play with Your Kids When You Hate to Play

True confession time.

I cheat at Candy Land.

I’ve been known to throw a game of Chutes and Ladders too. Especially when I land on that super-long curly slide that takes me alll the way back to the almost-beginning.

Here’s the true confession part. I cheat so that I lose, not so that I win. It’s not because I worry about risking damage to my child’s psyche if she loses a game now and again, either.

The real truth is…these games bore the snot out of me.

So when that little spinner goes around and I see the plastic blue person is going to land at the top of the slide, taking her all the way to the bottom of the game board, throwing us into a 30 minute Candyland overtime, I may be known to push that arrow to the side just a wee bit.

5 Ways to Play with Your Kids When You Hate Play FB

I LOVE my children. And I’m a good mom, but I’ve never been too much of the get-down-on-the-floor pretend with Barbies type.

Oh, I’ve tried. After one outfit change and a 5 minute date with Ken to the Rubbermaid box tea party, I get itchy.

Over the years, I’ve learned to be okay with this. There are plenty of ways to be a good mom even if you don’t tend to get down on the carpet and play with Barbies or Hotwheels cars very often.

Out of all the parents in the world, God chose you as the mom of your children for a reason. Never doubt your importance or compare yourself to other moms.

5 Ways to Play with Your Kids When You Hate to Play

Instead, here are five other ways to connect with your kids in a meaningful way that you will enjoy, and they will, too.

1.Read books.

There are few moments better than snuggling down with your children reading books together. This summer was an intense one for our family because our children with behavior needs struggled intensely. Our times reading together gave all of us a much-needed respite and physical closeness in the middle of our days. (Check out this post I wrote about how I read with my children with behavior needs.)

2. Work side by side.

Child learn by example. Set your kids up with a smaller version of what you’re working on. Give your kids their own “safe to play with” cabinet in the kitchen where they can play while you cook meals. Rotate the items inside once in awhile to keep it interesting. Create a small desk of writing and craft supplies to pull out while you work on paperwork.

3. Cook.

Allow your children to do some of your chores along with you. Yes, it takes longer and sometimes creates more messes to clean up, but it’s worth the time spent together. Baking treats together creates special memories. Check out these Almond Butter Chocolate Chip cookies for a Paleo recipe with just a few healthy ingredients. These are easy for kids to make, and you will feel great about teaching them a healthy recipe option.

5 Ways to Play with Your Kids When You Hate Play

4. Take field trips.

Getting out of the house together is a great way to avert spring and summer antsy feelings. Your outings do not have to be elaborate or expensive. Check out some places right in your home town that you haven’t visited before or in a long time. Consider ways you can serve others in your community, too. How about visiting a nursing home or shut in ins from your church? Sometimes simply going for a drive is enough to bring a change of pace on a tough parenting day.

5. Talk.

What your child longs for above all else is connection with you. Talk to your child about your interests, and listen to your child tell you about his or hers. It doesn’t matter if your conversations are unorthodox. If it works for your relationship, you are connecting.

Maybe Chutes and Ladders games won’t be your type of parenting very often. That’s okay.

Try these strategies and cherish special fun memories with your kids in ways that work for you. My oldest children are teens and young adults now, and we have a close relationship. No Barbie tea parties required.

Sara B
Sara Borgstede is a speaker, writer, triathlete, and 100 lb weight loss success story. Mostly she is a real wife and super real mom. She and her husband Mike are parents to 5 children through birth and special needs adoption. Find her at www.theholymess.com.


  1. Cooking is one we love. My kids also love to do a spa day where we do each others nails etc. They still get the connection, quality one on one time etc. My eldest has become obsessed with Uno though to the point we are playing daily. I can only handle a few games in a row and I am done.

    1. Sarah Ann says:

      How fun! I’m sure your kids love the one on one time and it sounds like your ideas are a big hit. Have fun!

  2. Great ideas. I hated board games and would lose on purpose at monopoly.

    1. Sarah Ann says:

      Ha! I totally understand! 🙂 While I love games, playing in general is not my favorite. I can so relate!

    1. Sarah Ann says:

      Sara, I loved your words of wisdom! Thank you for adding your heart to this series!

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