Why Playing With My Kids Is Now On My To-Do List


What matters the most to me as a mom is having moments of joy with my three kids, yet I struggle with the daily overwhelm to live in joy. In the trenches of mom life, I find my to-do list too often barges in and clouds that joy.

The joy that comes from kids in those early years is long gone for my tween and my teen; but joy is still present in them.  It just has transformed from the intense, yet precious, toddler joy. Their joy is already aging and I can’t stop it.

My youngest still has sheer excitement he radiates when we play even simple games like Go Fish or Candyland.  His joy is a force and it enjoys success as it pulls me to reclaim and twirl about in my own joy when I play with him. In that moment, we interact as a swirl of joy. I live in the sheer essence of motherhood in that moment and it fills up my well.

As my boys grow, I am increasingly and acutely aware of time zooming by. I remind myself constantly I need to seize this specific snippet of time because this exact moment won’t ever come again. My kids won’t be these exact ages ever again. They won’t love snuggle time forever.

I remind myself my kids won’t want to play the same games with me in the future, so I need to stop my relentless work to play. I get it now – we all need to cherish each moment.

I need to shed the overwhelm and say to myself, I am a mom. I need to live daily in the joy of my children.

As a mom, I misplace my joy sometimes. I cover it up with worry, paying bills, piles of laundry, and to-do lists.  I anguish over regret for what I haven’t accomplished. I need to remind myself that daily joy with my kids should be what I strive to accomplish.

Some days my joy shrinks because I get so overwhelmed as I am never done with my lists. There is always something I need to do, should have done plus at least twenty-somethings sitting on the back burner. I have at least ten things I’ve been trying to do for years like clean out closets, organize the toy bins, weed out the outdoor clothing bins, and complete half-finished scrapbooks.

Constantly overwhelmed in mom life, I need to toss it all off my shoulders. My mom died at the age of forty-five, which would give me just two more short years with my kids. This fear of history repeating itself for my own motherhood terrifies me to my core. I’m not ready to be done being a mother in two years.

Yet, we don’t know how long we will live, so I remind myself again, I am a mom. I need to live daily in the joy of my children. Before it’s too late.

I’m overwhelmed by an endless stream of what needs to be done next. The mom guilt often smothers me. I am guilty of falling into spending too much time in my to-do list mode. The process of stopping working and ignoring work is forced on my part.

The reminder rings in my head again. I am a mom. I need to live daily in the joy of my children.

My kids can easily ignore homework or chores for play, and I admire that. It’s more of a natural state for them. As a mom, the ability to easily ignore work for joy has become a harder to achieve mindset for me because I know what must get done. The to-dos are constantly in the back of my head nagging my joy away.

My priorities get messed up. I need to tape the phrase on my wall. I need to drill it into my head. I need to breathe it in. I need to be it. Embrace it. Accept it.

I am a mom. I need to live daily in the joy of my children.

Work urgency blocks my ability to live in the moment. I ask myself why is it so hard to pull myself away from my tasks? What matters most to me is my kids so it shouldn’t be hard to pull myself away.

My goal is to cut back on other tasks so I can spend more time on what matters most to me, fulfilling joy with my kids. We get one shot to snag that moment when our child asks us to snuggle or play a game. We won’t ever get that moment back. If I say no I don’t have time to snuggle, the next time my son might hesitate to ask because he thinks I will just say no, I can’t because I’m too busy.

I don’t want that.

I don’t want them to feel I’m too busy for them. My kids are my joy. I must show them they are my joy. I want to proudly acknowledge I lived in joy with my kids. I want to be able to say I did it.

I’m learning. I’m consciously shedding the overwhelm of mom tasks. I’m lowering my standards.

Daily I’m learning to say, I am a mom and this is my mom life. I need to live daily in the joy of my children. Because time is going too fast for me, my boys are getting big.

I’ve realized how short the time is. That I won’t always have my babies in my house. My to-do list needs to include my most important task for the day – spend time daily in joy with my kids.

I’m making a pledge to prioritize the to-do lists. I’m adding to my list mandatory play time in joy daily with my kids.

Daily pledge to myself: I am a mom. I will live in joy as a mom before it’s too late. I will live daily in the joy of my children. Every day. Not missing even one.


Julie Hoag is a Family Lifestyle and Food Blogger on her blog at http://www.juliehoagwriter.com/ She writes about motherhood, kids, family, recipe creation, travel, DIY, and pets. She is currently publishing her first cookbook of hybrid recipes which are recipes for families composed of vegetarians and meat-eaters, dishes to accommodate both diets with one recipe. She is a freelance writer, a wife, and mother to three boys. Connect with her on social media at Facebook  Pinterest  Twitter  Instagram


  1. Yes! Just the dialogue and conversations alone you can have while playing with your children are so important to development.

  2. Yes to all of this! It’s so easy to want to give them something to do so we can get chores done or just have some down time but they grow up so fast. Prettt soon they will want to play with their friends instead. I always try to play with my daughter every day. Plus you can see such a sweet and unique side of them.

  3. Oh I love this post! I don’t have kids myself yet but I’m definitely starting to experience wanting them – I almost teared up because a cute kid at the grocery store was so happy and excitedly waving to people in christmas costumes… too adorable! I’m going to bookmark this post & come back and read it when I have kids of my own.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. Even now that my 3 are teenagers we still have family board games and workout together as a family. Loved the article 🙂 Thanks for sharing.


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