Can We All Just Agree That Playing With Toddlers Is The Goddamn Worst?

Ad failed to load

I love my child. Truly, madly, deeply adore her. She's my sun and stars. She's the funniest, most charming, weirdest, best 2-year-old I know. I enjoy spending time with her reading books, sharing a bowl of popcorn, or talking about our day before bed. But I swear the next time I have to actually play with her, I might poke out my own eyes. Call me a terrible mom or whatever, but I know the truth, and so do you. Playing with toddlers is the goddamn worst.

Engaging in play with a 2- or 3-year-old child can feel like an eternity. First of all, they do everything at a snail's pace. That burgeoning sense of self brings out their inner "do it myself" beast that, no matter what, cannot be tamed. But the fact that it takes them forever to put Mr. Potato Head's ear in the hole doesn't completely explain the excrutiating phenomenon. Playing with a toddler like playing in a black hole. You could swear you've been putting together an ocean life puzzle for an hour, but when you look at the clock only 10 minutes have passed. Turns out that octopus exists within a wrinkle in time. It's strange because while play seems to run in slow motion, you never have enough time for a shower or to finish your coffee while it's still hot.

Ad failed to load

Another annoying aspect of playing with toddlers is the fact that they never get tired. Ever. My kid is obsessed with playing outside. We don't have a swing set or anything, so that means "play" involves a lot of running. And you know what I hate more than anything? Running. I'm not in the best shape, so I'd just as soon let the dog chase her around. And don't get me started on coloring — the activity that truly never ends. Normally, I find it to be therapeutic, but I'm talking about using my fancy colored pencils in my Game of Thrones coloring book and not my kid demanding cats, dogs, cars, houses, and happy faces on her magnetic board. Draw. Erase. Ask for more. Repeat steps 1-3.

From ripping up books to breaking crayons in half, toddlers are veritable wrecking balls.

As anyone with a toddler knows, they have a lot of... ahem... executive leadership potential. That's code for "bossy." I know that term has dropped out of popularity because of its negative, gendered connotations, but I'm referring to all toddlers. Because every last one of them likes things their way. The other day, my daughter took her baby doll into her room, placed her in her bed, and covered her with a blanket. Taking me by the hand, she directed me to sit on the bed, where I found a collection of fairy tales. Her instructions to me were as follows: "You stay here with baby. Read Jack." Then she turned off the light and left. I'm pretty sure she watched me on the monitor to make sure I didn't leave out anything about the cow, beanstalk, or giant.

Ad failed to load

Toddler play is also frustrating because they're just so damn destructive. From ripping up books to breaking crayons in half, toddlers are veritable wrecking balls. I mean, what is so satisfying about dumping things out? Throwing sh*t, I kind of get, but come on. My daughter loves to play blocks with me because she knows I'll build a tower that she can knock down. Rude. One time, I made fake crying noises to try and get her to understand that it's not nice to ruin something someone has made. The next time I constructed a palace, she took a plastic gorilla, made him destroy it, and then announced, "Uh-oh, monkey."

Constant reliance on you for stimulation is going to become a problem. It's unsustainable for you and a crutch for them.
Ad failed to load

Toddlers have the attention span roughly equivalent to that of a Labrador retriever puppy. Heaven forbid you get interested in something because your little one will soon be on to the next thing, and you better be on board. According to Washington Parent, the attention span of a 2- or 3-year-old is approximately 15 minutes. Frankly, I think that's a bit of a stretch. In my house, we go from Noah's Ark to Legos to riding her y-bike in the same amount of time. My dad calls my niece (same age as my daughter) a shark because if she stops moving, she'll die. It's short attention span theater, people, and it is exhausting.

When play time is said and done, guess who's on clean up duty? You. I'm not saying I let my kid turn my house into a FEMA disaster area and then walk away, but the bulk of the tidying falls on yours truly. According to What to Expect, it's not reasonable to expect a child that age to manage all their things. It's a job for the two of you, but let's face it, one of you is not always amenable to the task. More times than I can count, I have taken my toddler by the hand and forcibly had her pick up and put away a toy... while she's screaming bloody murder. The "Clean Up" song makes the whole process sound so much more fun than it actually is.

Ad failed to load
I'm not saying I let my kid turn my house into a FEMA disaster area and then walk away, but the bulk of the tidying falls on yours truly.

Transitions are not a toddler's strong suit. According to Parents, toddlers lack a sense of time and live in the present moment, which makes stopping an activity somewhat traumatic. They suggest advance warnings and straightforward language. I use both with my daughter ("We can stack the cups one more time, and then I'm going to start dinner"), but once she's gotten a taste of playing with mommy, she's not so keen on letting me go. The second I get up, she's in full-blown tantrum mode. In case you were wondering, it's really hard to chop an onion with a wailing toddler pulling on your leg.

Ad failed to load

OK, so I've made it pretty clear that playing with my toddler is not my favorite thing, but beyond selfish reasons, I think it's important to consider that it might actually be good for little ones to play alone. I'm not saying ignore your kids, but do give them the gift of unstructured play time. According to Daily Parent, solo play has benefits ranging from more imagination and creativity to improved confidence and self-direction. Constant reliance on you for stimulation is going to become a problem. It's unsustainable for you and a crutch for them.

Look, I'm not going to stop playing with my kid any time soon. I do think it's important that I be present for her, but I also recognize that she benefits from playing on her own and with her peers. She doesn't need me all the time. And that's a good thing, because one more round of "Ring Around the Rosie" might push me right over the edge.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik