wooden-toy-train

I’m definitely not going to win the “coolest mom” award on this post.  It might even seem to contradict some things that I’ve previously written on my blog.

However, I fear we’re headed down a slippery slope when it comes to parenting and we at least need to start talking about it.  For some reason, as moms, we have this strange belief that it is our job to entertain our kids all. the. time.  

In case you aren’t convinced … feel free to browse Pinterest for a few minutes or visit one of the amazing blogs with activities for children.  I too am guilty of spinning my wheels day after day, trying my hardest to provide fun experiences for my children … all in the name of being a “good mom.”

Yes, we want our kids to have a happy childhood with a variety of experiences.  But this certainly doesn’t mean that the mark of a good mother is spending all her time creating and engaging her kids in those activities.

If the end goal of parenting for you is the same as it is for me (raising our children to know, love, and emulate Jesus), then “entertaining” certainly isn’t what the majority of our focus should be on.  It should be focused on others, just as Jesus was.  After all, the two greatest commandments are loving God and loving others.

So, what is a mother to do?

Meet their needs of feeding, changing, and bathing?  Yes.

Teach our children?  Yes.

Engage with our children in play?  Yes.

Enjoy our children?  Yes.

Play with our children?  Yes, although not every minute of the day.

Encourage our children to think of others before themselves?  YES!

Laugh with, tickle, and kiss our sweet babies?  OF COURSE!

Entertain our children every minute of the day?  No.

The fact is:  When we make it our mission in life to make sure that our children are entertained and having fun, we are teaching them that that is what life is all about–them!  It also can prohibit children from using their imaginations and their own creativity to come up with something fun to do on their own (which is a problem with my firstborn–I continually entertained him from birth to 2 years of age, when his little brother was born, and now he has a hard time self-regulating his own play).

Rather than going out of our way to find ways to entertain our kids, let’s go out of our way thinking of opportunities that we can serve and love others together.

What do you think?

 

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24 Comments

  1. Agreed and thank goodness for it! Those of us who aren’t able to be the 24/7 Mom already fight guilt. It doesn’t help when the little time I get with my kids isn’t the most.fun.ever. I don’t have the strength or energy for it. I let my kids get that during their stays with dad and I focus on the love and prayers to cover what I can’t do and even those things I *think* I can.

    1. Hi…I just wanted to hopefully encourage you. Just because you work and split kid-time with their dad, doesn’t make you less of a mom. You ARE a 24/7 mom 🙂 you are ALSO a 24/7 provider: a doctor, a transportation giver, probably a lawyer (I know I have to mediate/defend/prosecute some pretty hefty arguments), a nurse, a security guard, a chef, a maid, a Christ-figure of love, a teacher, and SO many other things that there is not enough room on the internet to even define WHAT a mom REALLY is! Just because you work, doesn’t mean your “mom hat” gets less meaningful…moms NEVER get to stop (which is weird because it seems as if dads do…you, unfortunately have to play both roles. God didn’t intend for the woman to be in the lead role of provider) Read Proverbs 31 and Deuteronomy 28…you are doing what you can with the cards you’ve been dealt. And I bet you are doing better than you realize. Free yourself of the guilt, I know what you meant tho, by not being able to be at home or with them 24/7, but let me assure you…the grass isn’t greener. It just seems that way….that’s the enemies trap that he likes to put ALL of us moms in. Take time for yourself and KNOW that my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus-Phil 4:19. Be blessed, rest, and fill your cup first so that your children and others can have the OVERFLOW of you instead of every last drop (K–I totallly have to admit, I fail at that one almost always! but its good to remember 🙂 just like on an airplane-you put your mask on first and THEN assist the kids.)

  2. Jenae,
    I agree! I too have the same problem with my oldest daughter, she has a hard time playing by herself but my youngest seems just fine entertaining herself (especially if the bathroom door is accidentally left open, why do they think that toilet water is so fun?). You have made me re-evaluate my day and what I try to “stuff” into it.

  3. I agree. I actually tell my 6 & 7 year old that I LOVE it when they say they are bored. When they asked why, I told them that something creative and great was going to happen now that they were on their own to be entertained. It is so funny to watch what they come up with and the creations they make out of old cereal boxes, paper found from anywhere, tape or anything else sticky…..I am always rewarded for not feeling this pressure that I do see many around me have…..when I see what they have found to do with themselves….I am in awe. I love the emphasis on doing something for others….maybe I will have to add that to my line…..”I can’t wait to see what creative and amazing ideas you have to give or do for someone else.” That is going to be awesome!!!
    When we were in Tokyo in our 600 sq ft apartment, it was so great to see what they did with a few toys and a mom that got tired of going and exploring the city….just our lil’ apartment, basic supplies, and some boredom resulted in some great memories and bonding!!! Thanks for writing this……great way to extend what I am already doing and encouraging to not succumb to the pressures.

  4. Girl, you have spoken the TRUTH!!! I was recently talking to my mom about how exhausting it is with three toddlers and trying to “entertain them” all day and she said the same thing. She said when we were children, we played with each other and learned how to entertain ourselves LOL… She was not always in our faces! That was certainly encouraging!!!

    Love love love this post!!!

    Kennisha

  5. specialmom says:

    So well said. One of my children is a wanderer. That is, when she doesn’t know what to do, she literally wanders the house, randomly watching other people and touching things. When she starts this, I say, “You are wandering. It’s time to choose an activity and stick with it for 20-30 minutes. What are you going to do?” If she can’t come up with something, I choose an activity for her (read a book, play with stuffed animals, build with legos, color a picture…). In this way we are trying to teach her to occupy herself in constructive ways instead of always relying on playing with mom, dad, or siblings.

  6. Momof3boys says:

    I can’t believe their is another Christian mom out their that has finally said what I think about everyday!!! I actually have tried to do creative crafts and activities and I end up frustrated by the end of it all… My boys would rather I put out Legos, hot wheels,or play dough..or just ride their bikes! No craft materials needed …no mess involved and the are learning at the same time! I leave all the painting and educational activities to preschool and kindergarten:) thank u for your thoughts!

    1. YESSSS! I’m a mom to 3 boys as well and now with the 3rd this is how I feel. I was always doing crafts with the other 2 (although the middle boy does love crafting, but now he can do it on his own), and now I just don’t with the 3rd because he’s just not interested. He’d rather legos, play doh or just to be outside, so that’s what we do instead. Crafts are being done mostly at church and eventually prek! 🙂 Not saying we NEVER do a craft, it’s just not my focus right now. I go with the flow.

  7. Alana Folger says:

    I recently read about a study where they experimented with two series of groups of children who where placed in a play room with a set of odd toys to play with that didn’t obviously belong together (i.e., a swim noodle). One group had an adult with them that “helped” them along in their play, giving them some initial ideas about how to use the “toys”. The second group was given absolutely no direction, they were just allowed to play. The results showed that the second group of children, allowed to create and imagine on their own, came up with the more and more complex ways to utilize the “toys”. In fact, it was noted that many kids in the first group, didn’t even seem to know what to do with the items after the ideas had been fed to them. Facinating isn’t it?!

    I don’t belive that this study means that we are not supposed to engage and entertain our children in creative ways. But it is very easy to become unbalenced and over do it.We can’t forget that a HUGE part of learning about the world around us, as a child or as an adult, is DISCOVERY. Essentially, taking in lessons from our personal experiences. If the activities we present our kids serve as a catalyst to that discovery state of mind and are actually encourging our children to be curious about the world around them, we are on the right track but if we venture too far and our activities are doing the discovery part for them, we can acutually begin to squelch their natural, healthy curiosities.

    As far as focusing on others, you are right on as well. Kids learn to be good servants when they witness parents who serve others (besides theirfamily). It also helps them understand that everything isn’t about them and they are more likely to want to serve others.

  8. Amen! My kids have heard “I’m not the social director” and to not let me or my husband hear them say “I’m bored” otherwise they will find themselves scrubbing the base boards, organizing a sibling’s locker, or other monotonous service! More often than not I hear:
    “Can I go outside? Can I color? Can I get out the craft things?”, etc…

  9. Brigette Hill says:

    Great reminders!

  10. Yes! I am lucky my first was so independent! She always wanted to be off doing her own thing, and I frequently thought I wasn’t doing enough with her. She is still fiercely independent at 5, and it definitely causes problems from time to time, but I have never heard her complain about being bored. She has helped my second child to be more independent too just by being around her. Hopefully the third will follow. I certainly do not have the energy to constantly entertain them! One activity a day and some stories (plus chores which are not so fun for them) are about all we do when it comes it anything structured. I hope to home school, so the amount we do will obviously go up as they get older. I seriously doubt they would consider school work fun, but I do hope they enjoy learning!

  11. I so agree!!! There were many times during the summer one of my kids would whine “I’m bored.” And my response was to find something to do on their own and it was not my responsibilitly to “entertain” them all day:)

  12. provide children with the right tools and they will find their own entertainment. if we are always finding things for our kids to do, then how will they learn to do things for themselves?

  13. johannah steffens says:

    I so agree! A good mom doesn’t mean you have entertain 24/7 an what is a good mom anyway. We are human not superhero’s w/ clown suits. I always had same feeling,but always stuck w/ Mom always said “Kids need learn entertain themselves from time to time”

  14. My husband constantly tells me it’s not my job to entertain our wee one all the time. I get so stressed when I see her bored and my wheels are always spinning(as you say) to find new things for her to do. No wonder I am a stressed out mum. I would welcome any advice on the theme, thank you!

  15. shauna harrison says:

    huuuuugggggeeee!
    So good!
    You’re so right up and down, in and out…..
    I was just telling my boys this a few weeks ago….and it HIT ME as I was saying it. “I’m not your entertainment, I’m not bobo the clown where you come to me when you want something to do” I tried to say it nicely, but as I was saying it, I realized it was an epiphany for ME!
    One thing I wanted to add to your list was DISCOVER!…..IT IS OUR JOB TO DISCOVER THEIR TALENTS WITH THEM AND SOME TIMES FOR THEM, THEIR GIFTINGS AND THEIR CALLINGS! How many of us floundered in anger, confusion and unhappiness in jobs and circumstances that we didn’t like all because we didnt really know why we were placed on the earth. We didn’t know what we were called to do…..and in MOST CASES…THAT CALLING IS GREAT AND WILL CHANGE LIVES.
    DISCOVERY…..it includes watching, observing, listening to both your child and God. And lots of PRAYER.

  16. Brandi Thomas says:

    Thank you for encouraging me with your article!! I have 3 school aged kids and just opened a home daycare. I am very frustrated when interviewing parents at the amount of parents that always ask what I do with the kids! I want to say, change diapers, wipe noses, prepare meals, put down for naps, hug and love them, they need to supply their own imagination with the toys around them and other children to play with!! I have ages ranging from newborn to 5 years. I love doing daycare but am frustrated with the selfishness of parents wondering what I will do to entertain their child, How do I explain this in a nice way that the child should develop their own creativity with the toys, playdough, etc. supplied?? Thank you to any advice given.

  17. I Googled, “Am I required to entertain my children all day?” and your blog was the first hit I got. Thank you! I sometimes feel like I’m supposed to engage my children all day, sit on the floor with them and play with them all day, leaving all of my work – housework, school work, employment work – for when they’re asleep. There are two of them and they have a great time running around the house and getting into whatever together, but sometimes I just feel guilty about doing some “adult” thing and “ignoring” them. I remember my mum gardened, cooked, sewed clothes and did who knows what while I played by myself as a child but for some reason I’ve got the impression that that isn’t okay to do while my own kids play by themselves. Where are we getting these ideas from?

  18. This was exactly what I needed! I recently left my high stress career to be able to move with my active duty Marine husband. Since we move so much it became too hard to get settled in a new job only to have to leave. I opened a boutique I do from home but now that I am not working full time I feel like I have to entertain my 4 year old. I also am planning on home schooling so I do not want to get into bad habits now with entertaining her every minute of the day. I actually feel guilty when she’s in her room playing by herself. We just recently moved so she doesn’t have a lot if friends here to play with so I have substituted as her bff

  19. Oh, my goodness, can’t believe I stumbled upon this blog! This is so me, and I’m just now trying to change this habit! I have one child – a 7-yr-old boy, and I’m divorced. He has a fairly active relationship with his dad (every other weekend). My son is a very happy kid, does well in school, soccer, Sunday school, etc. But I find myself trying to entertain him with going out to dinner way too often, and placating his requests to do things like Laser Tag and bowling. I have only recently begun to tell him, “no” – that he needs to find other ways to entertain himself at home. Ugh…:)