You don’t have to play with your kids!

I will be speaking in Delaware this coming Thursday evening, May 11:

And next Monday evening, May 15, I will be speaking in New Jersey. You can access the invitation here

Today I want to say, don’t think you must play with your children.

I’ve been thinking more about what I said in my last post, in which I try gently to point out that perhaps one real reason why more women don’t admit that they are ready to give up on feminism, even though they can see it’s a lie, is that they simply don’t know what they would do at home — literally do not have the skills or what we call here “the collective memory,” to do well with housekeeping and child-raising, not to mention living on one income.

All those things are what this blog is all about, written from just that perspective: the one of a person who truly has no idea how to take a shower when there’s a little child running around, and cannot for the life of her figure out what to make for supper, yet again.

I have something to add.

Somehow, probably due to the insane idea that no one should ever have more than two children and work outside of the home and “have it all” and look interested and glamorous while achieving great things or at least earning a wage, and also due to the expectations when we outsource childcare, that children will be completely safe, stimulated, and reach their full potential, women think that they will have to spend all their time at home with said two children as some sort of glorified camp leader or cruise director, ticking off all the boxes of scope and sequence and every moment spent with “mindfulness” and making memories.


Well, grabbing that last shibboleth by the tail as it speeds by in the anxiety race, let me ask you this: have you ever considered how you could make a memory for another person?

Consult your own memories of childhood. Do you think that your parents purposely constructed them for you? Or do you think they just lived their lives, doing what they liked to do, making mistakes like we all surely must, and not being in control of what you remembered? How could they? How can you?

Anyway, that’s a digression.

What I really want to say is this: you don’t have to play with your children and with certain exceptions that have to do with your own enjoyment or needing to show them what to do, Auntie Leila’s opinion is that you actually should not.

Children need —  need — to play on their own. What they need from you, if you can possibly provide them, is siblings to play with. (If you cannot provide them, which is different from refusing to, don’t worry, that’s in God’s plan and all will be well if we trust Him.)

Children need benign neglect. The times that they require supervision and adult direction exist, and at those times you are the authority, not some sort of director who doesn’t meet goals if anyone fails to be amused. Be firm and affectionate at those times. Pull out a board game or build a castle if you really want to.

But most of the time, they should be making up their own games, running outside and falling down (and crying, getting a bandaid, and running off again), and in general not relying on parents for entertainment.

It’s actually a sign of something not being quite right, if they simply cannot play on their own. For them to be able to, they must be ignored. If the habit has been that you get right down with them to play, then a period of some upheaval will likely ensue if you detach from them, but detach you must, for the sake of their imaginations, relationships, and development.


And for the sake of your sanity!

No wonder I am getting emails from gals who are stressed out because they are “introverts” and “need alone time.” They really think they must be on call for their kids at all times, and it’s causing a lot of stress!

Well, we extroverts need downtime as well. Good mothers read to their children, talk to them, listen to them, sometimes show them how to play in the kitchen corner or set up a raceway for matchbox cars or build a Duplo tower or make a fort with the sofa cushions or have a snowball fight or line up logs to make a path over a quicksand bog.


But don’t actually enter into or initiate those plays as a regular, daily, usual thing. Moms can say, “You go ahead and play. I will be in here mopping the floor, unless you would rather do that… ” Later, once they are used to being on their own for play, you can sit and read a book or do whatever you want! They will be as happy as clams.

So if you feel like you have to play with them, in order to be a good mom, or if you are going nuts because you can’t get your work done or rest, I am here to say, it’s fine and better than fine if you don’t! Don’t do it! Paradoxically, when you let your children play on their own, you will find that you enjoy their company much more and genuinely look forward to being with them.

And if you just let your kids run around at the playground, instead of following them and helping them and acting like one of their playmates, you might possibly be able to have a conversation with another mom there, and make friends with her — if you can convince her to let her kids run around without her!



Knitting Corner

I have literally one thumb to close off on my Selbu mittens and then I can show you, but I got sidetracked with my Altheda sweater… I have no idea if it will be any good at all (in terms of fitting, despite lots of gauging), but here’s what I have so far:


I also started a pair of socks to slip into my bag for mindless knitting. The mittens were not mindless, and the sweater is something you must be pinned down on the sofa with, at least for the yoke part with its two colors (plus the lace to hold with the blue). Maybe when I get past that to the main body it will be more portable, but for now the sock project seemed fairly high priority.

I am using leftovers from another pair of socks for the toes, heels, and cuffs, and black for the main part. I usually start toe-up on DPNs, then transfer them to a magic loop so I can work them two-at-a-time, since despite my chaotic methods, I am actually pretty OCD about having them match!

Book Corner

As you think about next year’s history curriculum, perhaps these two books will be good resources.

One of the authors of Becoming Rome, Thomas Cox, wrote to me to let me know about this textbook. He says,

I’m going on my 14th year as a classroom teacher at The Heights (a private school in the DC area with high standards of religion and scholarship) and have really enjoyed teaching Latin, Greek, History, and English here.

I wrote a book recently to introduce my students to Ancient History while still giving a place and priority to the primary sources like Herodotus, Plutarch, etc. It’s my attempt to use history to help my students become better thinkers and better young men, rather than just stuff them with facts or tell a story of all the bad old days.

As I look through it, I can see that it offers just that. A good outline of the time period with a lot of primary sources. The authors have a good explanation of why it won’t quite work just to read Plutarch. You need a guide. There are great maps in this book along with lots of illustrations and a good narrative. Each section has a chapter review and “Topics for Seminars” that will be so helpful to the homeschooling parent. I like that the book is not huge, but does lie flat with sturdy covers and paper that will last.

In a different vein, but also regarding history, my friend (and Rosie’s classmate) Bronwen McShea’s La Duchesse would make an absolutely wonderful choice for your high schooler or college student’s summer reading list, as well as your own, as it’s almost like a novel in its recounting of Marie de Vignerot, Cardinal Richelieu’s niece and closest confidante. I regard it as the utmost importance to become familiar with how life actually was in the past — how there was of course a vast array of women in every rank and position, despite the deception practiced today on the topic.

Fortunately, Bronwen has the scholarly and writerly ability to bring this fascinating, all but forgotten, character to life in our imagination.


Garden Corner

It has rained buckets here for the past 10 days, and I must say, the grass looks amazing, if largely unmown, but I hope to have more to update you in this corner soon! How is your garden and seed starting going? Do tell!

bits & pieces


  • Fiat Lux — A complete course to teach anyone how to write an icon. The course includes ten hours of detailed video instruction that is supplemented by one-to-one tuition, either in person (if local) or remote (Zoom). The end product will be a beautiful icon of St. Joseph painted exclusively by you as well as all the knowledge and skills needed to write other icons in the future.





“The USMA is the voice of physicians, by physicians, and for physicians, upholding the values of compassion, self-sacrifice, dedication, and excellence in the practice of medicine ingrained in America’s doctors throughout their training and throughout the long illustrious history of this noble profession. In short, the USMA serves as the primary source of medical education, networking, and policy representation for America’s physicians.”


  • I have posted this before, but it’s worth bookmarking: Just the Inserts (important information about vaccines from their manufacturers, printed on the inserts).


from the archives

liturgical living

St. John before the Latin Gate


follow us everywhere! share us with your friends!

My book, The Summa Domestica: Order and Wonder in Family Life is available now from Sophia Press! All the thoughts from this blog collected into three volumes, beautifully presented with illustrations from Deirdre, an index in each volume, and ribbons!

My “random thoughts no pictures” blog, Happy Despite Them — receive it by email if you like, or bookmark, so you don’t miss a thing!

My new podcast can be found on the Restoration of Christian Culture website (and you can find it where you listen to such things) — be sure to check out the other offerings there! 

Stay abreast of the posts here at LMLD, when they happen:

Consider subscribing to this blog by email. In the current situation, if we can’t meet here, it would be good for us to be connected by email!

Like LMLD on Facebook.

Follow LMLD on Twitter.

We share pretty pictures: Auntie Leila’s Instagram, Rosie’s Instagram, Deirdre’s Instagram. Bridget’s Instagram.

Auntie Leila’s Twitter.

Auntie Leila’s Facebook (you can just follow)

Auntie Leila’s Pinterest.

The boards of the others: Rosie’s Pinterest. Sukie’s Pinterest. Deirdre’s Pinterest. Habou’s Pinterest (you can still get a lot of inspiration here! and say a prayer for her!). Bridget’s Pinterest.

The post You don’t have to play with your kids! appeared first on Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Older Post Newer Post