For the Mom Who’s Weary of Entertaining Her Children


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In our culture, we moms often feel that we should provide our young children with constant entertainment, stimulation, and child-centered activity.

So we pour our energy into providing just that. But eventually, we begin to feel exhausted, weary and overwhelmed. We can’t get our housework done or pursue other interests, let alone rest, so we resort to turning on the T.V. for them or putting our children in preschool-type programs. (Nothing against preschool, but it doesn’t have to be done as an act of desperation). The burden of entertaining them becomes too much for us to handle alone. 

Believe me, I know. I’ve been there.

But is this natural? Is this how societies have functioned throughout history?

When I step back and consider these questions, my answer is, no.

While playing with our children is so important for their development, and should happen every single day, this isn’t the only way to keep them “entertained.” We have to figure out ways to make our lives work efficiently, and constantly evolving activities around what I “think” my child should be interested in doesn’t necessarily do that for me. (Although some activities absolutely should evolve around their interests).

So what’s the alternative?

Living Simply

If you’re committed to living a simple life, you probably won’t be putting your kids in constant activities, programs, sports and playgroups. Nor will you be able to make your entire day about them at the expense of household chores, and you probably won’t want them to watch much TV.

So instead of entertaining your children, lead and train them to do life with you.

If you’re cooking or cleaning, intentionally involve them in the task. If you have a hobby, teach them simple skills that will allow them to participate and learn. Reproduce everything you know and do–every bit of a disciplined, productive life–into them.

Teach them to clean up. Establish routines for your day. Serve others together. Visit the elderly. Make a craft. Grow a garden. Sew. Bake bread. Show them how a home is run and do it with them. Decorate. Take care of the baby or younger siblings together with your older children. Involve them in home-maintenance. Teach them stuff. Enjoy their presence.

Since letting go of the burden of entertaining my children, I have found great freedom in parenting and day to day life. I enjoy the time I spend with them so much, and what I’m giving them feels grounding and real. I am more confident now then ever that I’m training them to be thankful, productive people. I want them to have fun, but also to develop skills and confidence, to be godly and others-centered. It’s these qualities, not the expectation for attention and ego-centrism, that will make them ultimately happy.

Thinking this way has lead me to include my children in things I normally wouldn’t. Of course, it’s easier and neater to paint a garage door without the help of a three-year-old, but we made some great memories today, and she had a blast. The extra effort of including her in this task was far more worthwhile than sitting her in front of a TV or even playing with her. (Although, hear me, I do believe play is important, just not necessary every waking moment as entertainment).

Q: What activities have you included your children in around the house?

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Comments

  1. Linda says:

    I like that you not only hare personally and how many moms are worn out but provided encuragement and solid alternatives. Hope your week finds you not weary. Blessings, Linda

    • Linda, thank you so much! I really applied this yesterday because we had a long weekend at home without dad, which can be a bit grueling for me. It was actually not bad! I took the kids outside and we watered stuff and had a great time.

  2. ~Karrilee~ says:

    I love this… as a (new) Empty Nester and Mom of an Only – we did this without much intentionality. She was part of the family and we did all the things together! We were among a small handful of parents who did not enjoy all the overscheduling of all the activities and really enjoyed a bit of activity with a big dose of downtime! Great post! We are neighbors over at Holley’s today!

  3. BK says:

    Great post! Love this whole concept about engaging the little ones in ever aspect of life…however with a 7 and 3 yr old plus a 6 mo baby there is often not enough time because it all takes so much longer to do!
    My main problem is how to motivate them to do it cuz they want to do it, not because they have to do it and to do it with a cheerful heart!

    • That’s a hard one. I really don’t have the answer, but one idea that I use with varying success is to explain why we’re doing something on the deepest level I can. So for example I say, “We’re making dinner right now because we want to serve dad and show him love. When he gets home, we will have this nice dinner ready and that will make him happy. God wants us to work hard and love and serve our family members.” or something similar. Does anyone else have ideas?

  4. Emilie says:

    I have a 16 months old, a 7 and 8 years old, and try to teach them that no one is responsible of you being bored except yourself. The whining usually stop really fast when I tell them that I do have some great ideas (like washing the car, deep clean their rooms loll) for them to be occupied! And aside of that they all pitch in for housework, the older ones do their own laundry, keep theirs rooms clean, vacuum and do a lot of outdoor work like piling firewood, grass cutting etc. The little one help me watering the garden and veggie patch, wash basebords and kitchen doors and have her own little broom lol. As true as it is important to play with them it is important for them to learn the value of good work!

    • “the whining usually stops when I tell them that I do have some great ideas…” That is a good one! Such a perfect perspective-changer. 🙂 I think it’s important to give our kids room to develop the skill of “entertaining themselves.” It seems like a dying art in this era of electronics, but still a healthy thing.

  5. Michelle says:

    Another great post! I can’t agree more about including them as much as possible in the day to day things that need to be done, fun or mundane. I try to include our kids in as much as possible and they LOVE to help! Also just think of the life skills you are teaching them! Our older daughter just taught the 2yo to fold wash cloths (not perfect but she so enjoyed it) (I was folding the larger items with them 🙂 ) I think it’s important to teach our children the value of a job well done and every moment of the day can’t be play. I just told our kids this the other day when they asked if we could get the pool out and I said no we need to care for our home today. Mind you when had 2 playdates in 3 days, and a full weekend ahead of us and a chaotic house doesn’t run well 🙂 (ps we got the pool out today 🙂 )

    • Michelle says:

      *we not when 🙂

    • You seem like such an awesome mom Michelle. Thanks for the encouragement and advice. I always love reading your comments because they’re thoughtful, encouraging and insightful. I get pretty stressed about the house and often try to do too many outside activities. “We need to care for our home today” is a good way phrase and mentality for them and me. 🙂 I’m going to use that soon.

  6. This is a great post! I love your suggestions for including the kids when we “do life.” This is so wise.

    I found your blog through the Declare page of attendees. I hope to meet you there!

  7. Ai says:

    Great post, Katie! I do feel weary sometimes , especially when my kids plop on the couch and say, “There’s nothing to do.” You’re right. The more they start participating in everyday family life, they will let go of that mindset that they have to always be entertained. I notice that in a couple of my kids, who are now taking the initiative to do chores or offer their help without my prompting.

    • Wow! That’s wonderful! I hope to get there someday with my kids. I definitely enjoy parenting much more when I take some of the pressure off of myself. I love reading your parenting thoughts.

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