Rewind just a couple of years ago and my version of playtime was Saturday night cocktails, quiet Sunday mornings in bed with the paper, splurging on a new dress and delicious meals out.
Now I’m lucky to do something I want to do once a month. Playtime is dictated by my two tiny bosses who rule over pretty much everything we do, apart from when it comes to what we eat for tea, I’m still clinging on to that bit of power.
We all have different tastes, but when it comes to me and my kids we are poles apart with regards to what constitutes a good time.
And with two under three you can’t just leave them to get on with playing, they want mummy to join in. Mummy is at the centre of the fun.
In fact, just to add to the already enormous pressure on you as a parent, you must set the mood and fun levels for playtime.
If you’re not upbeat and able to at least sound like you’re having the best time ever, you can bet your kids will pick up on it and no one will have a good time.
My toddler is just over two-and-a-half years, and I am her favourite person to be around, apart from her dad, of course.
This is an honour and I’m thrilled we have such a beautiful relationship.
But let’s face it, building a Lego space rocket or hiding behind the sofa for the 58th time in a row are not my top choices for what to do on a Saturday afternoon.
So I often find myself having to dig pretty deep to find that infectious level of enthusiasm that I know my toddler wants me to display.
Making them smile
My baby, who is nine months, is far more excited and smiles more when I am smiling and talking to her in a happy, playtime voice.
“What have you got there, is that a block? Clever girl holding your block!”
But some days it’s a real struggle to find playtime mummy.
I’ve had eight months of appalling sleep thanks to a cheeky baby who would wake up every two hours wanting milk or just to remind me that she was there.
At last we’re turning a corner in the sleep department and the worst nights we get is when she wakes at 4am. Some days she has even slept through until 7am, hooray!
Trying to be upbeat and happy clappy when you’re absolutely dead-on-your-feet exhausted is a real struggle. Particularly when there are a million other things you need to do as well as entertain your kids.
So, inevitably, when those days strike where you can’t find the energy to be the super playtime mum, you beat yourself up for it.
Precious early years
They say treasure every minute, and that kids won’t want to play with you forever! I need to make the most of these precious years of innocent playtime!
I’m sure in 15 years time when my kids think I am totally lame and are embarrassed to be seen with me, I will miss those days when I was ordered to sit next to teddy at a pretend tea party.
It’s easier said than done to cherish every moment, because, the child version of playtime is, frankly, boring and tedious to most grown-ups.
Yes your child can make it more entertaining because they come out with hilarious one-liners and their imagination is so impressive even at just two, but it’s hard to relate to the likes and dislikes of someone 31 years younger than you.
Luckily as my baby and toddler get older their idea of playtime is getting more interesting. There are areas of common ground to be found.
Things like baking are becoming a real favourite with my toddler. She loves to mix the sugar and eggs together and help measure out the flour. She even has her own little whisk and wooden spoon.
I’m looking forward to attempting things like making jewellery with her when she’s a bit older and taking our first trip to the cinema.
A change of scene makes a big difference and although my idea of a perfect holiday is sangria, sun and siestas, it’s great to enjoy the beach and explore new places with small children.
So for now I need to keep up the pretence of the perfect playtime mummy.
A little boredom is worth it, it it makes my children smile.