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To be really bad at playing?

(43 Posts)
ShabbyAbby Sun 10-Mar-19 15:09:11

Please tell me I'm not the only one who just can't do imaginative play? I dread the DCs wanting to play this way. I am happy to play board games, hide and seek, chase, read stories, sing songs and rhymes, and take them to toddler groups/soft play/cinema/bowling/swimming/activities. I'm up for card games, movie nights, pampering, sorting/tidying games, lego/building and making music. Always up for a cuddle or a chat. Even baking things or crafts on occasion.
But I just cannot do imaginative play. I am just so bad at it and feel so self conscious and ridiculous and have no ideas. Am I being U to just not play imaginative games? Surely they can play with their friends (or each other)? They just end up frustrated/disappointed (you aren't even trying mummy) and I end up drained so I'd rather just say "no, mummy can't play make believe because mummy is really bad at it."

Stardustmemories Sun 10-Mar-19 15:12:51

I’m rubbish it at too. Like you I don’t mind everything you’ve listed but I hate doing imaginative play.
But they really, really love it when I do.
So I do try and do it every so often. I tend to ask them what the story is or what’s going on and follow their lead.
I think as adults we just aren’t used to it anymore and just feel silly but I felt like that when I started reading out loud when they were little and now I do voices and everything 😂 so it just takes some getting used to.

ShabbyAbby Sun 10-Mar-19 15:25:36


I'm fine with silly voices and making a tit out of myself in general but just can't do this for some reason? I'm not embarrassed about looking stupid, I'm embarrassed at how bad I am at it I think confused

It's also my DCs favourite thing I think they just enjoy watching me squirm

fc301 Sun 10-Mar-19 15:28:42

Yep. Me too.
I don't believe I was played with in this way as a child.
Don't beat yourself up. You ARE trying to be the best mum you can be.
Support them with opportunities to do this, play dates, dress up etc. Then let them enjoy it with your moral support.

Huntawaymama Sun 10-Mar-19 15:36:34

My 3yo and I play imagination games nearly all day long. She's currently dressed as a mermaid and I'm her sister (just playing on my phone while I breastfeed the baby). She loves imaginary play but it's quite draining on my part. I love it though I'm looking forward to the days she'll entertain herself a bit more. No tips I'm afraid, I do think it's one of those things you like or don't

DramaAlpaca Sun 10-Mar-19 15:39:53

I was useless at imaginative play, useless. I just couldn't do it. I hope I made up for it in other ways. DH was better at it than me. The DC have turned out fine though, thank goodness.

ShabbyAbby Sun 10-Mar-19 15:47:03

Yes I love it when we are on a play date with a Mum I get on with. They play with their friend(s) and I chat with mine. Not always possible though and sometimes when I get on with the parent they don't get on so well with the kid(s) or vice Versa.
Just feels like a skill I just don't have. I've been trying to learn it for about 5ish years and still not "got" it.

Weirdly though it was my favourite thing as a kid too. I used to get frustrated with my friends who preferred other games, and then it developed into a love of creative writing and reading (both of which I still do) and drama (which I don't). I think they and I might just have to accept that it's something they do with their friends (and each other) and not me! I try for like 5-10 minutes and then just get up and doing something else or suggest a different game or activity.

steff13 Sun 10-Mar-19 15:56:29

I'm the same. I didn't play that way when I was a kid. I was strictly Lego, books, and bike-riding. Now I dread my daughter asking me to play Barbies.

Funkyslippers Sun 10-Mar-19 16:06:04

I've had 10+ years of playing Barbies, schools and babies and I don't mind it really, but I get a bit bored if we don't have a 'story' to follow and we can't always think of one! My youngest (nearly 10) would much rather be on her tablet than play with me these days and pretty soon she'll be too old to play with me so I'm making the most of it. Just think up a story and go with it (we've used up most stories over the years!)

StrawberrySquash Sun 10-Mar-19 16:14:17

Can you ask them questions about your role? That might give you some ideas for how to play them and they might like to engage that way? 'No, Mummy, you're a green dinosaur, silly!' etc.

ShabbyAbby Sun 10-Mar-19 16:18:05


I'm sure DC1 has literally used that line blush it's always "but trolls don't like fish, silly" and the like. Always with "silly" on the end. Where do the rules even come from?

HumphreyCobblers Sun 10-Mar-19 16:22:22

I never did this with my kids. I just couldn't bear it. I had lots of playdates instead, they can do it with their mates.

There was a little period where my dd used to pretend I had a broken leg and she would bring me things to make me better. That was a good game involving no effort on my part.

MWNA Sun 10-Mar-19 16:31:21

I feel really quite awkward playing like this. She is rather neurodiverse and gets stuck on a thing. This is is tiiiiiny example.

4: Mum can you play pretend poorly person goes to the hospital in a ambulance with me?

Me: Ok. (Trepidatious) For 5 minutes.

4: You have to be the pretend doctor and I've got a sore throat and need an injection. You have to say to me oooohhh poor you; lie still for your injection.

Me: Um. Ok (Cringe)

4: Say it, Mum!

Me: Darling, I don't really want to. Let's read a book.

4: But you have to! It's the pretend game! You have to say [insert any seemingly non sensical phrase] You have to pop a plaster on my leg! You have to be the doctor. Mum! Say here comes the ambulance. You say it. Come on Mum!🙄 Shall we play preschool instead? You be the little girl. You don't want to go to preschool and you cry and say nooooo please let me go home!

And on and on a LOT.

Damntheman Sun 10-Mar-19 16:38:42

😂 I love this kind of play but I also love role-playing games and nerdy larping so it's definitely within my skill set.

Don't feel bad though, kids will do it together or they'll do it alone. You're doing lots of other play types with them!

Damntheman Sun 10-Mar-19 16:39:37

The rules come from nowhere, much like a good game of Mornington Crescent ;)

OddCat Sun 10-Mar-19 16:43:48

You need to play 'beauticians' where you are the customer wink

ILiveInSalemsLot Sun 10-Mar-19 16:44:28

I don’t do it. Actually I lie. I do pretend to be a cuddle monster and chase them from time to time but that’s the limit.
You do so much with them that you don’t need to feel bad about it at all.

sobernotjustforoctober Sun 10-Mar-19 16:47:20

Yeah I'm the exact same. My heart sinks every time my daughter asks me to join in with imaginative play. Like you I don't mind doing all the other stuff, it bores me out of my skull and I actually find it really mentally draining. It's gotten to the point now that my daughter (6yo) knows I enjoy playing but not imaginative games so that's left to her now.

I don't feel guilty in the slightest, my mum not once played with me in any aspect when I was a kid. It was up to me to amuse myself or go out and play with friends. She was too busy doing housework, cooking, being an adult etc. I lived to tell the tale.

Far too much pressure on mums these days.

Limensoda Sun 10-Mar-19 16:48:23

I get completely involved in imaginative play with my 6 year old grandson. I didn't even know I was good at it before because I didn't do it with my own children so much.
Sometimes I don't even know what the point of the plot is but just take direction from him. It's like an escape from real life and really therapeutic. Neither of my children find it easy with their children so maybe you have to be old and approaching your '2nd childhood' grin
I love it.

MiraculousMarinette Sun 10-Mar-19 16:50:08

Can't stand it either. Bores me to death. I start yawning and feeling sleepy within seconds. It's uncanny really.

ShabbyAbby Sun 10-Mar-19 16:50:58


Oh I do the cuddle/tickle monster regularly don't worry!
Yes maybe I do need to give myself a break from this one.

They want to do a jigsaw puzzle, make a chocolate cornflake cake or play "Simon says" they know where to find me hiding from imagination land on Mumsnet and doing laundry

OrigamiZoo Sun 10-Mar-19 16:54:06

I'm rubbish at it too, in fact all play, but I did it anyway. I have no memory of either parent ever playing with me or my siblings, not even a board game.

ShabbyAbby Sun 10-Mar-19 16:54:58

So glad I'm not the only one!

I think I need to invest in my friendships more and organise some more play dates instead of flogging this horse.

There grandparents are legends thankfully (although I don't remember playing these games with them as my parents so maybe there is something to your theory @Limensoda)

ShabbyAbby Sun 10-Mar-19 16:55:40

Sorry to hear that @OrigamiZoo

expatinspain Sun 10-Mar-19 16:57:49

I never did with DD. Apart from hairdressers and beauticians where I was the customer 😂. Kids have their friends for those games. Don't worry about it!!

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