10 Reasons Not To Play Board Games With Your Kids



My husband’s Saturday morning ritual of making pancakes with the kids has been replaced recently by him going to work instead. This makes my “sleep-in” day vanish entirely. I never really got to sleep-in anyway, but there was hope. What’s life without hope?

This past Friday night as my husband reminded the kids that he won’t be here in the morning, I overheard my son complain, “But Mommy never plays with us. She’s always just on the computer.” Cue the mom-guilt. I promised that I’d play games with them after I finish my first cup of coffee in the morning. Despite nursing that first cup of coffee and hoping they’d forget, they showed up at my desk with arms full of board games. So we played. And I quickly remembered why I don’t play games with my kids…

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1. The Sore Loser. Whether it’s really losing the game, or just having to go fish immediately after a sibling got a set of four, my kids are monumental sore losers. They cry, complain of unfairness, and spread misery with alarming generosity.

2. The Obnoxious Winner. Ha ha! I won. Oh yeah! Oh yeah! I won! Oh yeah! You lose! Ha ha…. This winner’s dance of gloating lasts until someone cries.

3. The Cheater. The kids lie, peak, steal, grab, stack decks and try whatever else is possible to give them an advantage and make the game suck more than it does naturally.

4. The Gang Up. My kids don’t understand that if some non-self-person is going to win, it does not matter which non-self-person that might be. Instead, they have some sort of ranking of which non-self person is the least/most objectionable winner. They band together, conspiring so that the most objectionable non-self person does not win. I am always the most objectionable non-self person.

5. The Never Ending Game. Chutes and Ladders. ’Nuff said.

6. The Back to Start Game. Any game where a roll of the dice or selection of a card results in a person going backwards towards the starting point inflames sore losery, inspires cheating, lends itself to attempted conspiracy, and then never ends.

7. The Mind Numbing Stupidity. I mean, children’s games generally suck.

8. The Mess. Children’s games come with parts, pieces, cards, sticks, marbles, dice, timers, boards, and other small objects. These pieces are inevitably left all over the place and/or lost. A lost card from a game of Memory? Sucks. A lost piece from Sorry? Stepped on. Ouch!

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9. Ending the Play. I remember reading once that children are like batteries in that you can “charge” them with some attentive play and then they’ll be more ready to play independently for some time, as they’re all filled up and satisfied with love and attention. This is either total bullshit, or my kids need to read that book too. There is no way to extract myself from playing with them that doesn’t end in anger/tears for all involved.

10. The Begging. If we do something fun with the kids once we are then stuck with them begging for it again for the rest of our lives. My kids beg for fairs, parades, skiing, swimming, roller skating, movies, sledding, ice cream, candy, gum, restaurants, late bedtimes, the beach, Christmas, birthday parties, friends’ houses, cookies, zoos, Grandma’s house, popcorn, plane rides, bus rides, train rides, etc, etc, etc all.the.time. If they’ve never done something, then they don’t know to beg for it.

Related post: I Hate Playing With My Children


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  1. Arwen says

    I totally feel you. I only have one child and while for the most part I love having an only child, the constant playmate role does grate on me sometimes. I’m developing the skill of playing while also reading blogs at the same time, but I’m still working on it.

    And you are not alone with No 9. I read that once too – unfortunately my kid hasn’t read the book either.

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  2. JD @ Honest Mom says

    #7 – Mind Numbing Stupidity. THIS is why I hate playing games with my kids. I need multiple glasses of wine to endure Candyland. Which isn’t acceptable on a Thursday morning, even for me. So, you know. NO GAMES.

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    • says

      To play candy land, you toss out all the single space cards, then you put the candy cards every third or fourth card in the order they show up on the board. Gloating winner? Stack the deck so he loses next time. It works great!

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  3. Kelly @ In the Mom Light Blog says

    Ok, but seriously though…. how much am I supposed to be playing with my kids because I actually AM always on the computer… does that make me un-mother of the year :-(

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    • Jeanine says

      i bought mine an ipod for christmas. now we “play” games virtually.. on my time schedule. sorry hunny, mommy hasnt had time to respond to your play on songpop/draw something yet!

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      • Kelly @ In the Mom Light Blog says

        Aw that’s cute! When mine gets a little older, I think I’ll do that too. I have good days and bad days but sometimes I just have so much computer work to do I feel like I’m always telling him “in a minute, in a minute”…

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    • Amy says

      Makes you normal. My mom didn’t play with me when I was little. I played with my sister, friends or on my own. Before computers, my mom was busy cleaning, cooking, talking on the phone, smoking and reading. We didn’t expect her to play with us, just love us and take care of us.

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      • Nana says

        I think that’s a product of these times that tells mothers they are somehow failures for having things to do besides cater to their kids’ constant whims. My mom was a good mother, but we didn’t expect her to entertain us. We entertained ourselves, usually outside. And if it rained, out came the plastic table cloth or old shower curtain and we did crafts (for hours!) on the living room floor.

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  4. Rochelle says

    #5- also applies to Monopoly!! When I used to nanny, I taught the kids that after one trip around the board, the game was over and whoever had the most money won. BEST DECISION EVER.

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  5. Stefanie says

    A word to the wise…why feel guilty? I am a single (divorced and ex lives in another country) mother. I work 8 -14 hour a day and I also do the laundry, clean, grocery shop, prepare for the next day, remind them of every little thing they need to do do be ready in the AM (shower, are you dressed yet??? eat!, brush your teeth!, where are your socks?!, homework??? WHILE working East coast time living in the West) and chauffeur them to school and daycare, assist with homework after school, discuss day and make food, get them settled for the night. I’m not sorry if I do not want to play a game with them. Uh uh no way. 99% of my time is already dedicated to them…I will take any time I can get for a glass of wine and a good book or to get something extra cleaned. Let them drag out the never ending monopoly, argue about who gets to be what ,cheat each other and then end by leaving the multitude of pieces spread around the house. Unless there is blood shed there is no need to become involved.

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    • Michaela Mitchell says


      Until my inevitable mom-guilt hits and then there will be 5 seconds of merriment where I put together a Lego something-or-other or I chase after them until I realize I stopped working out a long time ago and can’t breathe…and then I let them entertain themselves…

      But yes, as the sole caregiver with no help from an ex husband, I have learned that it’s ok if I don’t play the games – and I really REALLY hate Candyland and Chutes & Ladders…who’s dumb idea was it to make games for small children that involve a million pieces?!

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    • Tracey says

      So glad to hear I’m not the only one! Struggling with major mommy guilt though. I live an hour away from where I work so I must be out the door by 6:45 to drop the 5 year old squirt at my parent’s house and then off to work from 8-5 with an hour drive home. Must pick up the squirt and catch up with the parents and then ruin his day by dragging him away from the most awesome people in his life (ouch!) so I can whip up dinner, clean, take care of animals, get him ready for bed, etc. There is no time to play and if there is then there is no energy! He is an only child and since I was lucky enough to wind up divorced and on my own, I’m kind of glad, but we live in a tiny little town so it isn’t like he is just down the street from tons of potential friends.

      That being said, I am glad he is learning to entertain himself and I flat refuse to buy Chutes & Ladders or anything like it!

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  6. Carrie says

    Seriously! All of this.

    And, my four-year-old currently thinks EV-ER-Y-THING is a competition, and actual competitions? If he doesn’t win them? Devastating.

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    • Devan says

      My girls are 6 and 3 and EVERYTHING is a competition – getting in the car – “I got in the car .2 seconds faster than you”, eating, walking, BREATHING! I tell the 6 year old all the time, this is not a cometition!

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