Monday, May 6, 2019

3 Things I Hate Doing With My Kids (and 3 Things I Like)

Full disclosure: I think I'm a pretty good mom. But the longer I've been at this parenting gig and seen different moms in action, the more I realize how different we are.

We all do it so differently, and I've known plenty of women who are very good moms but trying to parent the way they do would drive me insane.

So in the spirit of celebrating our strengths and accepting our weaknesses, and maybe making everyone feel a little less guilty for hating certain kid activities, here are my mom confessions about things I really can't stand doing with my kids.

I Hate Playing Pretend With My Kids

I have yet to meet a 35-year-old woman who loves playing Barbies, so I hope none of you waste any of your time feeling bad about this. No adult likes playing pretend. That's what siblings, neighbor children, and imaginary friends are for.

A few times a year I make a genuine effort to get down on the floor with one of my kids and play pretend, and after 45 second two things are obvious: (1) neither of us is having much fun, and (2) my kid is a tyrannical despot.

I'm not allowed to do anything more or less than what I'm specifically instructed, and if I make a suggestion ("How about the monster goes over here?") it's promptly shut down with an exasperated sigh and an explanation of how I'm doing it wrong. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT "IT" IS.

I Like Playing Board Games With My Kids

Board games, on the other hand, allow us to play with structure so I'm not just sitting around taking orders and wondering if my watch is broken.

Of course there are a few I won't allow in my house (I'm looking at you, Monopoly and Candy Land) but I'll be glad to play most any other board game, card game, or puzzle my kids want to do. We have fun, and the kids learn about critical thinking and strategy, taking turns, and good sportsmanship.

If this sounds like your thing, I suggest you take a look at this list of best board games for big families. I promise all of them are better than moving around plastic ponies and making them talk.

I Hate Baking With My Kids

From what I can gather from the covers of parenting magazines, "baking together" is the gold standard of parenting. I try making cookies as a parent-child bonding activity every now and then, and only when I'm covered in flour trying to yell over three people who are yelling about who gets to lick the spoon do I remember: I've never once enjoyed baking with my kids.

I'm not a helicopter parent, but baking together turns me into a military-grade assault chopper. Kids use salt instead of sugar. They sneeze in the batter. They demand "I DO IT!!!" and then dump half the measuring cup on the counter and the other half on the floor. And then there's the fighting: who gets to stand on the chair, who gets to stand on what part of the chair, whose turn it is to pour the ingredients...

I've recently realized I actually don't mind baking with only one child at a time — not that it matters. In our household of 8, it's more likely for me to be a first-round NFL draft pick than it is to find myself baking with just one "helper."

I Like Reading With My Kids

I will happily read books all day with my children. We're regulars at the library, where we're known as that family who consistently has 142 items checked out at a time. I've been asked more than a few times by the librarians if I homeschool my kids because we check out so many books.

I read lots of picture books to the little kids, and when they're old enough to read by themselves we pick a book or a series to read out loud to each other. Several times a year, my teenager and I will read the same book separately and then go out for milkshakes to talk about it. We're a reading family.

Looking at this picture I realize we should try to be more of a "picking up after ourselves" family.

(A handy trick I used when my kids were younger: if you get roped into a game of pretend, direct the dolls/toys/stuffed animals toward reading picture books to each other. Then you're still technically playing "pretend," but in a much less painful way.)

I Hate Doing Crafts With My Kids

I have a deal going with my parents: they can only buy my kid "make your own _______" kits if they will make them with the kids themselves the next time they come to visit. Where do I even begin explaining why I hate crafts?

First of all, the minimalist in me has a hard time with creating crap just for the sake of creating crap. Where do you put the toilet paper roll butterfly after you've made it? How long do you have to keep it? And why??

Also, I'm a raging perfectionist, and making a tube sock into an octopus WITH TWO EYES THAT ARE CLEARLY CROOKED is physically painful to me. Not to mention it's a waste of a tube sock. But kids don't care. They don't, and I do, which is why I can't handle crafts.

I Like Taking Walks With My Kids

Going outside and taking a walk with my kids is one of my favorite things to do. We've got no real agenda so we can stop to look at bugs and storm drains. They ask great questions like "why are clouds different shapes?" (The answer, spoiler alert, is that I don't know.) The older kids like to talk to me while we're walking, or they run ahead with each other.

My favorite walks are easy hikes out in the woods. Living in New England, there's conservation land everywhere so it's easy to do.

Even easier now that the youngest is old enough to walk by himself instead of ride in the baby backpack.

Our kids complained about hiking when we first moved here, but it's become part of what we do and the fresh air is good for us. Not to mention that I love taking pictures of the kids and nothing is better for that than natural light.

Some of you reading this article are probably thinking "I hate/love all those things, too!" while others are disagreeing with every single thing I've said, and that's kind of the point.

The great thing is that it's possible to be a good mom with or without the mini-muffins and paper bag puppets... thank goodness.

Every mom has a list in her head of kids’ activities that drive her absolutely insane. Yes, even good moms. Maybe you hate baking with your kids because it’s so messy or reading annoying picture books even if everyone else loves them. That’s perfectly normal! If you thought you were the only mom who didn’t enjoy every single second of parenting, you need to read this. #parenting #goodmom #confessions
Every mom has a list in her head of kids’ activities that drive her absolutely insane. Yes, even good moms. Maybe you hate baking with your kids because it’s so messy or reading annoying picture books even if everyone else loves them. That’s perfectly normal! If you thought you were the only mom who didn’t enjoy every single second of parenting, you need to read this. #parenting #goodmom #confessions
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Anonymous said...

AMEN!!! I DESPISE crafting by myself for the exact same reasons and adding kids to the mix makes it a thousand times worse! I honestly thought I was the only woman on Earth who felt that way. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Going to the park is another not-favorite. Doing endless loops of "watch this, Mom!" while I'm bored and getting sunburned is just not fun. Unless I can bring a blanket and take a nap while someone kidnaps them. That might be more interesting.

Jenny Evans said...

I absolutely am not a solo crafter either, so adding kids just ups the anxiety level for me to completely unenjoyable proportions.

me said...

I do not like reading chapter books to my kids. I'll read picture books all day, but I cannot stand trying to get through the long sentences and paragraphs. We get my kids to read early so I don't have to trudge through Harry Potter or Junie B Jones.
I do bake with my kids though, and the park is fun for me (as long as there's some shade). Crafting is a crap shoot but if the kid wants to do it and stay with the project (and not give it up half way through leaving me with the mess) I'll go along.
I wish we would do more board games but too many babies and too many sore losers in the house make it hard to keep it up consistently.

Jenny Evans said...

You're right, it's much harder to do board games when someone is always trying to eat the pieces.

With my oldest daughter we read through the entire Harry Potter series, every other paragraph out loud. That's a lot of paragraphs. And if I'm honest I just wasn't that into the Harry Potter Series. It was fine, but I don't understand the hype about it. I was kind of glad when it was over.

Kimberly @ iwishiwasamuffin said...

Amen to all of these! I never thought I was a control freak until I tried cooking or crafting with my children.

We're fans of games like Hearts and Connect Four, but I refuse to play the board games where you keep getting sent backward. I guess I have enough challenges in my life without Sorry! or "Chutes and Ladders" erasing my last few turns over and over. Fortunately, my youngest likes playing Sorry! by himself, so at least someone is enjoying that game.

Diana Dye said...

Agree to everything. I love baking but I do it to let off steam and be creative. Add a kid and it no longer becomes a break.

My husband can play pretend, even the princess stuff. It's weird. I can play Hotwheels forever though.

Jenny Evans said...

It is weird the things you do and don't like. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I hate doing Legos with my kids. Too close to doing crafts, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I am someone who likes to paint and craft, BY MYSELF. The things I make are useful, so I can't stand holding onto or throwing away the crafts my daughter makes. She loves it so much though, so she is always asking me to do them. I just hate the time involved in setting up and cleaning up when I know her brother is on a short nap cycle.

Unknown said...

Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. I thought I was weird, but I'm normal!