One of my most popular* posts to date was about what NOT to bother doing with your kids at Christmas which just goes to show that sometimes us parents need to be cut some slack - a little time to shrug off some of that permanent upper backache and be given permission to sink back onto the sofa and relax. So voila! Here we are, permission granted, I give to you a comprehensive list of what to not bother doing with your kids. You're welcome.
(*Most popular = survey of 2 people. Married to one. Am the other.)
Do NOT do any activity which takes longer than 10 minutes to set up
There is actual science to back this up. So if you are trying to work out how long your child will play with something that you have laboriously set up for them then use the following equation:
Total playtime = (time it takes to set up - time for the kettle to boil) x time it takes to have an argument - 20 arbitrary minutes.
So if it takes 15 minutes to set up, the kettle takes four minutes to boil (I need a new one) and there is a brief but violent two minute argument over dinosaur ownership then the amount of time the kids will play with the activity is two minutes. That's not even enough time for a half arsed browse on social media let alone a full on inquiry into the last wedding your ex's cousin's housemate attended.
Do NOT take the kids out for dinner for a treat
This is not a treat for kids. It's a hostage situation (especially you over there - you can't wedge your four year old into a high chair just so they 'stay put' for dinner). It is actually a treat for you/ opportunity for you to feel like the social butterfly you once were whilst you sip wine and set up wholesome family photo opportunities. Wait until they are at least six and you can safely determine what food they actually like (eating the crayons doesn't count) and they can hold a conversation and/or talk loudly and continuously at you.
Do NOT bother going to playgroups
One of the first posts I ever wrote was about playgroups. I'll spare you the same spiel but if your kids are not great at playing and don't allow you to become part of the group then I'm just going to throw it out there that it's not actually worth the effort. It's less of a 'play group' and more of a 'cry solo'. I did tout 'Crysolo' as a name idea, didn't catch on.
Do NOT go to soft play
Ditto above. Plus it costs more. Plus you may have to supervise your child through the entire experience. I swear I pulled a muscle in my vagina once trying to get through what I can only describe as some horizontal car wash roller type things. If you know, you know.
Do NOT listen to random lists on the internet telling you what to do with your child
Like this one. The random capitalisation is unnecessarily bossy and at the end of the day it's your child so your rules.
You want to spend an hour and a half setting up an elaborate obstacle course ending in a hugely messy art and craft activity? Crack on.
You want to take your kids for a marathon dinner sesh whilst you knock back a spot of fizz and selectively ignore them? Who am I to stop you? Hell, I'll probably even come join you.
You want to plan your weeks with back to back caffeine infused playgroups so you don't lose your tiny mind clearing up after your messy entourage? Milk, no sugar my friend.
You fancy spending so long in soft play you get mistaken for someone who works there? Be my guest. And also help me please, I'm stuck in some roller things with a searing pain in my undercarriage - second floor up - back left.
I think the take home message (because we all love a take home message right? it means at the very minimum we've left the house, even if it is only mentally) is one person's idea of hell is another person's coping mechanism. Do what you gotta do my friend, and if splashing some paint around/bending some pipe cleaners with your kids helps you through the long dark days then for the love of God let's get crafty. Who am I to judge? Meet you at soft play? Avoid the rollers.