Saturday, 31 January 2015

Lesson 43: The Frustration of Playing 'Games' With Toddlers

When Boy One was a tiny baby he used to stare at me from his bouncer, completely oblivious to my one-way conversation, or perhaps bored to tears by the tenth round of Peek-A-Boo ('Where's Mummy gone? She's behind the blanket again, for fuck's sake'). I remember longing for him to get a bit bigger so I could interact with him properly. You know, play proper games. These days, as he climbs on me and throws Play-Doh at my head, I would quite like that baby back. Except now I have another baby. Who largely sits in that same bouncer looking worried at the flying Duplo debris and alarmed by his toddler brother's Darth Vader impression. 

The truth is, you can't really play games with toddlers at all. You can try. Oh how you'll try. But unless you have a bucketful of patience (and I don't even have a thimbleful - seriously, zero patience here) it can be THE most frustrating way to spend a day. If you don't yet own a toddler, here's what you can expect...

'I'll be Chelsea, mummy. You be Liverpool.' Excellent. Goals are set up, baby is attached to person in baby carrier/wrap to avoid impact shimmy into position to 'save' the shot that will never come close to the goal and he starts crying, 'Don't stop the ball Mummy. MUMMY! It has to GO in there.' Your explanation of the whole point of the game falls on deaf ears. So basically you stand there and compliment the goals he scores in a Keeper-less net from a 30cm range. 

This game is pretty basic. You get down on the floor and 'drive' a tiny car whilst following the path of the toddler's tiny car. Sometimes this will be a race. You will be required to make annoying engine noises. The only hard and fast rule is that you get the shittier car. And never win.
Hide and Seek
Get your best poker face and annoying parent voice ready (you know the one, and if you don't just go up a pitch) because your toddler will tell you where they are going to hide. Or, after counting to ten, you will see him very obviously lying on the sofa with only his head concealed by a cushion, giggling and/or farting with excitement, and the whole 'no sign of him here!' charade starts. Initially quite amusing, the fun factor soon wears off as you 'search' the living room for the blatantly visible small person for the seventy-sixth time. Sigh.

You can actually make this game work to your advantage by sending them upstairs to hide, then counting to at least one hundred before continuing to periodically shout 'hmmm no sign in the kitchen' or 'definitely not in this cupboard.' On a good day this can buy you ten minutes to eat a Kit Kat Chunky sort out some washing. On a really good day they will hide in their bed and fall asleep by the time you get there. Winning.

Relatively new, this one. Probably filtering into houses nationwide. The toddler will want to 'act out' the film. I was actually pretty excited about the prospect of a bit of Am Dram before breakfast - anything beats sodding cars. 
'You be Anna, Mummy. I'm Elsa. Go behind that door.' 
Excellent. Act Two, Scene One commences...
Me: *coughs ready to sing* 'Do you want to build a snowman?'
Toddler: 'YES PLEASE!!'
Face palm. Seen it one hundred times and still lacking comprehension of the main plot theme. 

Anything Crafty
Because the urge to wail "YOU'RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!" can be overwhelming. As can the desire to scream at the mess unfolding before your eyes. 'Can we get some glitter out?' *sobs a bit.* I don't know where they find the kids on Mister Maker but mine won't follow any instruction and actually make or paint anything. In the end, YOU will paint a picture of a sheep and display it in your kitchen, with the footnote: 'By Henry, Aged 2'. You are only lying to yourself. 

Lesson 43: Don't expect to play any kind of meaningful game with a toddler without getting frustrated. Wait until they are a bit older. Or send them to Nanny's house. 
The Unmumsy Mum


  1. What about dress up where I have to be a princess all day and they repeatedly tell you what they are "I'm a princess dad" yes sweetheart. Two seconds later "I'm a princess dad" yes sweetheart. Repeat until bed time!
    And the worrying game of hide and seek where they actually manage to hide and then you panic!
    Great post btw!

    1. Kev - absolutely loving the idea of you forced into Princess dress-up! Do you have any photographic evidence?! It might tie in well with an upcoming blog post ;-) and yes Boy One hid so well in the park the other day I thought someone had stolen him! Thanks for reading x

  2. My boys are 2 years old and 5 months. Our play time mostly takes place when I am feeding the baby (when the baby is asleep he is obviously happy to play by himself. Prick) and consists of these 2 sentences 'no mummy put Douglas and you be spiderman' and 'no mummy I be spiderman'

  3. Yes! When playing Cars (or Planes or Trains) I am also told what to say to his vehicles and where to drive. Heaven forbid I get caught up in the game and invent my own storyline. Cue toddler meltdown. Can't wait for baby (also born Sept) to join the 'fun'

  4. I love playing hide and seek with my 3 year old, especially when I have been hiding behind a door for 10 minutes and I come out and she's forgotten what we are playing and has moved onto something else :o/

  5. Haha! My 2.5 yr old covers my face with my own hair and dramatically says, "Where mummy gone?!" *removes hair violently* "There she is!". It's really cute but after the twentieth time - not so much!

  6. This actually made me cry with laughter......we have to play eye spy.....HE DOESNT GET IT!!!!! So annoying

  7. I have too 'look' for my 4 year old for atleast 10 minutes or she declares I cheated and to look again. To which I have to go and count to 10 again and she stays in the same place. Oh crafts! I purposfully NEVER bought glitter. One day grandma babysits and there is glitter all over my front room! When asked why she brought my lovely daughter glitter. My mother replys 'revenge' and starts cackling as she leaves my house....

  8. It's like you know me. My fridge and notice board is weighed down with my own arts and crafts.

  9. My little darling was putting stones in his bucket outside. Thought I'd join in. I dropped a little pebble in the bucket.
    Well, I thought he was stung by a swarm of bees with the reaction!!! The screams were heard two counties over!!!
    Lesson for me: DONT Join In!

  10. Think yourself lucky. When we play "Frozen" I have to be the sodding reindeer. Which involves my small person riding me around the house until I drop, then "rewards" me with a manky carrot from the deepest darkest depths of the veg drawer in the fridge!

  11. Ventured into play doh territory this evening.. 2.5yr old daughter made a ball and launced it across living room.... at the dog. Said dog... used to leaping into action at flying unwanted food, lept into the air and caught it and yes ate it (terrible series of awkward chewing). Great so wain is sobbing and dog will b shitting rainbows for a week!

  12. Both anon posts above have me in tears here lol

  13. We play doctor over here, in which I have to both be the doctor and the voice of whatever toy is sick. And by voice I mean make vomiting noises. Occasionally I get to be the patient and get covered with every blanket, cushion, tea towel or other flat piece of fabric she can get her hands on.

  14. Funniest thing true, the cars game , the arts , the football ,, I often get shouted at and told I'm cheating at every game we play,, its his new favourite word, oh and during a Lego building session I get told ,,mammy that's wrong your not as "telligent' like me ...haha hes 3 ..couldmt make this stuff up lol <3 x

  15. Ahhh, "Frozen" my four year old requires me to sit outside the toilet, whilst she sings "do you want to be a snowman" . My only, ONLY line is "go away Anna" at the end, and she always has the hump because that's a mean thing to say apparently

  16. I love the crafty reference. I've got every bit of crafty stuff that I think is out there as I prepare to be 'fun mum'. But GOD if they ask me to open the tub with the foam balls and the small googly eyes again I will go crazy. I've started to make really crap excuses when I get asked to get craft stuff out. Even pens and bloody felts are getting too much to cope with.... NOT ON THE WALLS (FOR THE HUNDRETH TIME!)

  17. I think I am going straight to hell! I once played hide and seek with my 3 yr old,it was my turn to hide and took it a bit too serious hiding somewhere I knew she would never look (crouched dwn in bath behind shower curtain),when she couldnt find me after 20 minutes and was shouting her head off (me in bath lmfao) it appeared she thought I'd left the house,only when I heard her at front door did I jump out and tell her I was only hiding,by this point there and tears and snot and general feeling of "WTF mum,thought u actually left me!",she is now 12 and we laugh about the time she thought I'd left her on her own in the house and gone to asda!!!

  18. I cant ever do sticker books! When mine were smaller I would be hunched over them like satan, yelling and grabbing the sticker before it was placed OVER the outline! Im too OCD to do stickers.