The confession? Sometimes, my kids will come to me, all fresh faced and doe eyed and ask "Mom, will you play with me?"...and in return, I sometimes say "No honey, right now mommy has work to do".
I know, I know, right? How dare I? It goes against what oh so many bloggers are pining right now. There is always an ebb and flow of posts that follow the theme of "put off all other responsibilities and play with your kids right now and always or else you are a terrible mother". And before I get too far, if you are reading this, more likely than not, I am not talking about a post you have written so please take no offense.
I've just had my reader saturated with post after post that goes something like this...
...my kids will be grown before I know it so I must take every opportunity to play with them and put everything else off...no household duties, no laundry, no job, no responsibility is as important as playing with my child at every moment his whim suggests it. If nothing gets done day after day but legos and coloring books then that is what is best.
I completely disagree. And will even go as far as saying that a children need to be told no from time to time. They need you to say "Go play.". They need to see adults in their life taking care of their responsibilities and putting fun after work.
Am I saying that you shouldn't play with your kids? No way, we DO play every day. We frequent playgrounds and family dates to do fun things as often as the weather and time allows. There is a time and a place for all things. I personally think that putting off all that needs to be done in life and spending it playing sends a bad message to our children.
There's a saying in our house that goes "Do what you have to, so you can do what you want to". And we teach that to our children. Would I love a life with no responsibilities where playing whatever came to mind could be pursued? Well, I'm sure I could get used to it. But the reality is, my "job" is to run this house, to make dinner and laundry and get people where they need to go. And then there is my business. If I spent day after day playing and not taking care of what needed to be done, I'm sure my husband would have something to say about that.
I think this idea of stopping what you are doing every time you child wants to play sets them up for a life of entitlement and expectations on others to entertain them in every moment. Never saying no and setting the example that responsibilities can be put off until whenever doesn't do much to teach them how to be dependable people, no matter their age. We've been this way with our kids since day one.
Do I think that I am setting them up to feel unloved or unwanted or unimportant? No, I think quite the opposite. I am showing them that there are different times in our day for different things, sometimes we play more and sometimes we work more. That is life.
More often than not, it seems like a nice excuse for why things don't get done. I've actually had people say, to my face no less, "Well, it's great that you get so many things done in a day, but I like to play with my kids'. Real nice.
There seems to be a concurrent theme that moves along with these kinds of posts and it goes something like "I'm a much better mom than that mom who has a cleaner house and caught up laundry because I spent the day playing and being fun instead".
To that I say: Mary and Proverbs 31.
Mary, mother of Jesus, was a mom with all the normal mom and wife responsibilities. Do you think she played all day with the Savior of the world? I seriously doubt that she put off all household duties, that would have been much more numerous than those of our day, until Jesus was out of the house or do you think she said sometimes "Not now Jesus, I have to make dinner". Good enough for Jesus = good enough for my kids.
And where in Proverbs 31, Gods amazing example of a Godly woman for us, does it say "And she played until the cows came home and milked themselves because she was too busy doing puzzles and painting with her kids."
I think a balanced flow to the day is what is required...you can't be all work and no play or all play and no work. Sometimes you HAVE to say no. Sometimes you can say yes. At the end of the day, you will be responsible for the children you have raised and how they interact with the world around them. As will I.
My name is Crystal and sometimes I say no to my children.
I'm sure I've missed a point or two I meant to make so if I need to I'll post a follow up.