Playtime Guilt

Note from the editor: I love Friday… we have a talented group of dads writing with us each week! (I promise that I, the mom that owns this blog, will write more soon) But in the meantime… these guys are great! This week we have Jeff from Out With the Kids. You can find him on Twitter @OWTK. Today… Jeff discusses playtime with your child. His opening question really got me thinking…

I gotta ask you something, parent to parent: it’s okay that I don’t play with my kids all the time, right?

I fancy riding my high horse across the internets whilst calling myself a pro-active father, but to be perfectly honest I love – and I mean hot-fudge-brownie-sundae love – sitting on the couch writing an article, working on my book, or designing a silly t-shirt graphic while my little ladies frolic on the floor beneath me playing with ponies, Mary Poppins Barbie dolls, or on their dueling Magna Doodles.

The problem is that I cannot let go of the guilt.  I’m a stay at home dad so a sizable part of me believes I should be engaged like a fighter pilot locked onto his target, only without the helmet and the altitude.  I can convince myself only to a point that it’s perfectly okay to not be knee deep in blocks and toys on a daily basis.  It’s obviously good on some level to raise children that can play independently but Paranoid Jeff can hear my oldest complaining that I’m not involved even when she’s happily entertaining herself. Paranoid Jeff can also envision us on the sofa of a daytime talk show, baring it all to whoever is the Dr. Phil of 2025, while my girls confess that they turned to a life of pasties, stripper poles, and unemployed losers because daddy didn’t want to play Polly Pockets that one Tuesday afternoon.

Obsess much?

The reality of my situation is that I’ve got the attention span of a 2 year old.  I can dive in and go crazy with imaginary play for like 10 minutes tops.  Then I’m fresh out of ideas, not interested in doing the same bits over again, and full of a desire to break free and check Twitter or get down some clever turn of a phrase that just popped into my head before my 35-going-on-65-year old brain loses it forever. The reality of my situation is that I like to work on this unusual career that I’ve carved out for myself.  I just do and I’m kind of tired of beating myself up about it.

As of today I’m once again a 2-day-a-week empty nester.  My youngest starts a pre-kindergarten class at a local daycare leaving me a quiet house on Tuesday and Thursdays to, theoretically, work on the numerous projects I have going on at once.  Often though, just because I can, I’ll take 2 of those roughly 16 hours and go out to see a matinee movie.  I take comfort in the fact that the kids don’t feel neglected when I do.  The wife on the other hand…


  1. Melinda says:

    I’m glad I’m not the other “bored” parent. Ther Is only so much hitting the ball or tea party I can do till I’m staring off into space :)

    1. Kelly says:

      I started taking my kids to movies at 2 years old because of my own playtime boredom. They are 5 and 7 now and love to go to the movies! We also started them in outdoor activities sports early. My little one loved reading and the arts beginning around 3. This has helped us develop well rounded and happily entertained little people and parents! I agree with you Melinda… there is only so much rolling a ball or playing tea party that a parent can do before we’re bored to tears!