*gasp*

My name is Crystal and I am about to make a confession that will rock 95% of the mommy blog worlds out there.  At least that is what I calculate from the number of related posts written on the matter.  I am fairly used to being the odd girl out but it's never without it's own backlash or pity for my children.

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". 

*gasp*.

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.    
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47 comments:

Aly @ mommie diaries said...

LOVE this. SO much! we have a healthy balance of play-with-mommy and play-by-yourself at our house. but i never really articulated it the way you do- i never realized how saying no and getting things done around the house could actually be healthy for my daughter (almost 3). your words and your philosophy puts me at ease! i always felt a little guilty for saying no and getting the dishes/laundry done, probably because of the number of times i've read the post you're talking about- where the dishes and laundry pile up and the house is a disaster (and somehow the husband doesn't care?) but the kid is entertained all day long by mom. now i can feel good about my "no" and even be intentional about the things i'm doing when i do say no. i might even show her in those times, by explaining about work and how the house has to be kept up, etc. i love this! a newfound freedom and so much less mom-guilt :)

KinneyFamily said...

AMEN!!! totally how I feel and never seem to be able to convey that to my friends!!!!!

Very well writte. Will definetly be sending my friends to read this post!!

Cristi Baxter Clothier said...

Hi, my name is Cristi and I also say no to my children on a daily basis. I completely agree and can completely relate to your post. I have 2 boys, ages 6 and 4, who if allowed would rule every minute of my day if they could. In our home our kids have rules and boundaries. They know and are taught respect of others time.

They get tons of play time with both myself and my hubby.

Holly said...

Crystal I feel the same way. This also goes to the posts I see aall the time about how messy ones house is but its because they are a mom. I am a full time working mom of four. I also am a jr high youth leader at my church. I spend a lot of time with my kids but my floors are not sticky and my toilets are clean. I also teach my children to do chores. I am raising my children to not be the norm because that doesnt work these days. I am working on a post about this right now actually but I could go on an on. ;)

Mommy2Sophia said...

Good for you! I completely agree, and I am so glad that you wrote this. I tell my 4 year old no all of the time. But she knows that I will make sure to find some special time everyday to dedicate just to her and do special things with her. I feel like she values and appreciates that time more because I don't just drop everything any time she wants to do something. It is so nice and refreshing to see someone being real and telling it how it is instead of just showing the world this perfect little picture of their perfect little family on their blog. Thanks :)

derekcindyterp said...

Um YA! I also am a "I say no to my kids" mom. And *gasp* they still love me to bits :D

Heather @ It's A Long Story said...

Preach on, Sister-Friend! There HAS to be a healthy balance. Yes, I play with my daughter when I should be doing the laundry, but at some point the laundry has to get done. Learning how to play on their own is a life skill that kids need! Playing with my kids should never be an excuse for not getting my work done, and getting my work done should never be an excuse for not playing with my kids. I'm still trying to find my happy medium, but I guarantee it's not at either end of that spectrum.

LibraryGirl62 said...

Please-this is just one more way women hurt other women! As long as you do what is best for YOUR kids, YOUR life, YOUR husband and YOUR house, why should we judge? I told my kids no all the time and no one is in jail or a mommy hater or anything! Imagine~Normal kids from a home with boundaries and expectations!

Lorena said...

Coming from a middle school teacher (with no children of my own yet), thank you! Children need to have an example of what it means to budget your time between work and play. And you're right on the entitlement. It seems to be a pandemic in our nation right now. Children need to learn that people around them cannot be expected always to drop everything just because they give the word.
Also, I think they need that time alone in order to learn to use their imaginations and just generally be self sufficient.

Plus, doesn't it make it that much better when, once in a while, mom does stop to play?

Kristin said...

Thank you for saying this! I have a 15 month old and this is what I have started to do with him and will continue with all my children. I have been having a tough time feeling like this is okay since a lot of my friends have the opposite philosophy. It's good to hear it from someone else.

SarahinSC said...

I'm totally with you! My boys are 8 and 10 and can now play (outside, pretend, boardgames, cards, sports, etc...)for HOURS together or with friends or by themselves and be content and happy. I know this is because I encouraged them to make their own fun and play without mom or dad all the time. Bravo for doing what you do! It's going to be a sad state of affairs if many moms/dads are dropping everything to play all the time. Kids are going to grow up needing to be played with and entertained and that's NOT real life or preparing them for real life!

. said...

This is great! There are days when I feel like I'm neglecting my girls because I'm trying to get things done and I think that's because of this IDEA you're talking about. I don't ignore my girls while I'm working, but I do work until I can say I'm finished. Thank you for posting this.

hannah singer said...

BAM.
this is my heart.
grateful for you!

N said...

AMEN!!! and thank you!!!! I too am tired of reading everywhere that this is the norm....when does their stuff get done? are they going to be on hoarders (I kid, I kid)?

Fawnda@Fireflies and Jellybeans said...

Yep... I say no to my kids too. I also *gasp* make them clean up instead of play all day!

There is a time for everything! :)
A time to play with your kids, and a time to get the laundry done!

Eccesiastes 3:1 - 8
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;s3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;s6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;s7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Rulissa @ Mustard Seeds in Oklahoma said...

Great post! We have a song we sing when I am not able to play. In fact, my daughter thinks it's such fun that she either a) runs around singing for 30 minutes or b) helps me finish whatever chores need to be done. Thanks for helping me know I'm not the only one!!

Dawn said...

I have been liberated! Thank you! I too hear this all the time and as a mom I live with enought guilt.
I do agree there is a balance.
You made my day, thanks!

Mercedes said...

THANKS! I feel guilty whenever I read those other posts or see quotes about having a messy house and happy kids....my kids are never happy when the house is a mess (and neither am I). You articulated what I have had a hard time saying. But we definitely follow this philosophy in our home as well :) Thanks for you post!

Kristi said...

Not only do I agree with you, my kids are now 8 and 6 and have their share of household chores, responsibilities. When other moms hear that my kids take turns making their lunches, they either gasp or give a look of admiration. I don't care, either way, it is making the responsible. I also read that kids need to get bored from time to time in order to get their imaginations kick started. This is something that will help them to be happier and more productive adults someday. My kids have household chores each weekend as well as daily responsibilities. I am now teaching them to fold and put away their own laundry. In a way, we have more time together when we all work together. I keep telling myself that someday they will thank me. What could be worse than one day being on your own and not knowing how to take care of yourself??!! I know, I was there once. I don't want my kids to be in that place. Good job to you Crystal! I'm sure you do play with them plenty and I doubt you are letting their younger years slip by you too fast.

Joy Morris said...

I totally agree. We definitely have fun in our house, but my boys also get told, "not right now" often. While I wholeheartedly agree with this, I also have to check myself as to why I am saying no. Is it because I really am busy with a household task? Or is it because I'm being selfish and trying to finish catching up on Facebook? Not that it's bad to have "me" time, but there are other times during the day I can fit that in. I also try to give a a timeline for when I can play with them. For example, I'll often say, "I'll play with you as soon as I finish xyz". That way they know I've heard their request and know what responsibility I'm working on and that I'm not just ignoring them or brushing them off.

Grace said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you! And I confess.. I do get those guilty feelings when I say no to my children. I still have to work on that. Thank you for helping to ease some of that guilt!

Rachel said...

You are awesome Crystal! :) I agree with you wholeheartedly! I do find myself playing more than working sometimes, but that is because of my own weaknesses in being able to focus on the work first (not because it makes me a better mom). And I find it difficult to do what needs to be done a lot because I was a little bit... ahem... overindulged as a child. I am re-teaching myself as an adult how to do the right thing by family sometimes.

It was so good to see you recently!

Meyers Family said...

VERY well put Crystal!!! balance is key to life........we've been talking about entitlement a lot in our home......so sad what many expect from life....we are so undeserving :)

emily said...

Thanks for this. Reading this helps alleviate a lot of guilt. I've really struggled with the balance of (house)work vs play and have had a huge amount of guilt over both! Glad to know that other moms feel this way too!

Jacomijn said...

My name is Jacomijn and I have sometimes said no to my children (I don't have to any more because they're older now) :o)!!! But like you said: there is a time and a place to do all things !!

pat said...

Dear Crystal,
I have been following your blog for over two years and have to confess have never left a comment. I do not have a blog of my own and feel funny leaving a comment. So many times I have wanted to leave a comment especially when you were troubled and wanted to move so badly but I didn't. I feel bad that I did not reach out to you, I am sorry......But today, today I had to leave you a GREAT BIG HIGH FIVE comment for post today. As a mother of 4 children all grown and moved out on their own, with good paying jobs, I can tell you that I did not play with my children every day nor did I drop every thing at their whim to "play" with them. You are so right about them learning the importance of seeing Mom do what she has to do. You said it so well Crystal and I hope that other Mothers take a page from your book and learn to say to their children also.

Amber said...

"And she played until the cows came home and milked themselves because she was too busy doing puzzles and painting with her kids."
Best.ever. I die! hahahaha! love it! And I totally agree! It's all about balance.

MargaretB said...

Love this post! As a mom who is new to this 'working from home' gig, it's hard to find balance and for me, part of that balance has to involve saying 'Please go play'. I think it's just as important for me to provide time and materials for my child to engage himself in play as it is for me to get down on the floor and play with him (which I do make time to do every day).

Dawn said...

Hi Crystal! I check your blog almost everyday, and have left comments in the past, although not very often. I do feel bad sometimes telling my kids 'no' when they ask me to play with them. However, work does need to be done around the house at some point in time. The laundry will not get up out of the basket and wash itself, nor will the vacuum run itself. Life is a balance of work and play. And I think because I am not always playing with my kids, they have become better at coming up with things to play on their own and using their imaginations.

Happy Hodge Podge said...

Well said, friend.
My children go to school with tons of kids that have never been told 'no'. Now that those kids have to be accountable for themselves, they don't know how to handle it.

Rachel said...

I love this. I've seen so many moms fall into the trap of indulging all of their childrens' whims. Where does that leave them? With children who feel entitled.
Of course, I confess that there are times I say no when I should probaby have said yes. Would it have really hurt me to go for a bike ride after dinner last night? It is all about finding balance.
Great Post!

Laurie said...

I agree 100%!

Ben and Taryn said...

AMEN!!!! I hate feeling guilty about not constantly playing with my kids...my kids have never been the kind that need me to entertain them. Even at a very young age they would play and make believe on their own. I too need a clean house so I'm sorry I don't do fun things 100% of the time...my house is clean which keeps me sane and that makes me a better mom and does it really matter at all if my kids are happy!

Tanna said...

You are not alone, I say that everyday!

Bunnyslady said...

I grew up in a house where my parents always made us do our chores (and doing them right the first time) before we were allowed to play. Once we had all completed the things that needed to be done, we had family time. It taught us the value of doing a good job the first time and made the play time more of a reward. As a Mommy-to-be, I plan on raising my kids the same way.

Amy said...

I think this makes perfect sense. I work outside the home so I have both very little time to spend with my child and very little time to care for my home. Sometimes I have to say no. But I am not only teaching him the value of work but also how to entertain himself. Very important things indeed.

Al@PolkaDotsandPaisley said...

Tag. You're it. http://alspolkadotsandpaisley.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-tag-im-it.html

Amy said...

Amen! Great men like George Washington & Thomas Jefferson were great because they had responsibilities and from a very young age. The book Do Hard Things is really good and not only for then teen audience.

Elisabeth said...

A thousand times yes! I've had people say the same things to me about playing with their kids over doing this or that (workout partners bailing at the gym, complaining about piles of laundry or dirty dishes) and it makes me insane. Is my house spotless? No, but I'm not using my daughter as the excuse. Thanks for being the voice of so many moms who understand that saying no is just as important as yes.

Elisabeth said...

A thousand times yes! Thank you for being the voice of so many mothers who understand that saying no is just as important as saying yes. It is possible to maintain your household responsibilities and play with your children, though I will say my house is a wreck not because I play with my daughter too much, but rather because I hate cleaning! How's that for truth? :)

Carla said...

I love your sense of humour : ) I think it's important that our kids learn how to entertain themselves. I have just about raised 6 and there was always lots of work, but time for play too.
Enjoy your day.

Janna said...

TOTALLY with ya all the way sister!!! ALL. THE. WAY. Hi my name is Janna and I say no to my kids too! Sometimes more than I would like. But I am starting to do Sink Reflections - FLYlady routine and that's gonna turn around a bit here soon. And I am ever so excited about it!

Jennifer S. said...

Amen sistah! I wholeheartedly agree!

Carolyn said...

Well said, great post. Thank you!

Shannon said...

Thanks for this! Now I don't feel guilty for when I say no, or not now! You are an amazing and inspiring mom, and from the little that I've read about your past, and lack of healthy parenting, that is such a testimony to the grace and power of God!!!!

julie said...

I pretty much play with my kids whenever they request it, but my big dark secret is that it's not some parenting trick or whatever, but just because I like playing better than working, too.

Stel said...

"My name is Christelle and I salute you"

(Although I do feel guilty sometimes :-)

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