It’s Okay to NOT do Hands on Activities with the Kids. Really. It is.

ParentingAll Ages27 Comments

I’ve had something nagging at me lately.

I know I push being hands on with the kids all the time. That is what the blog is all about… all the hands on activities, crafts and art projects that we do, right?

But its okay to not be too.

It's Okay to NOT do Hands on Activities with the Kids. Really. It is.

I just read this article, from Almeda Patch, about not helping your children, so they can learn it themselves. She talks about the playground and sitting back and letting your kids work through their problems themselves (like climbing up the ladder) to learn how to do it themselves.

Which I’ve always done the best I can with. But it pushed me enough that I have to say this.

This can be applied to our lives as hands on moms too. It’s okay to sit back and be hands off. It may actually even be good to do it.

I made it a goal when I started doing hands on activities with Henry to do 4 activities a week with him. Right now, I’m probably only doing 2 or 3 with all the kids a week (total), and that’s on a good week.

Yep. That’s it.

Just 2 or 3.

It's Okay to NOT do Hands on Activities with the Kids. Really. It is.


Well, I have a lot of reasons right now, but mostly because my kids are entertaining themselves really well lately, and I have been swamped with work stuff, that I’ve been letting it slide. Not a great excuse, I know. But it’s how life is for me right now.

Also, because we recently broke into ‘real’ Legos. Its been taking up a lot of our time actually. Henry’s learning to follow directions, and I’m trying to step back and let him do it on his own there too.

And another good thing about not doing hands on activities with the kids is that it opens up the playing field for the kids! It let’s them explore and push their boundaries and find a new interest! Which opens up a whole new playing field for when we do our hands on activities! A new interest, a whole new area to play!

I’d say I’m still ‘hands on’ with my kids for the most part… I’m just not deliberately doing hands on activities every single day.

And that’s okay.

Its also good to step back and let your kids work through troubles when you are doing hands on activities too! Step back and see if they can figure it out if you just stall a little and give them a little bit of time to work through it. The answer may not always be immediate to them, but they may just surprise you too.

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  1. Emma says

    Love this post! I’ve been trying to step back a bit, after feeling like I had to ‘entertain’ for years. I want to let her be a little bored, let her think up her own things to do. Still great to do things together, but they need to learn to entertain themselves as well.

  2. says

    You know, I read this amazing blog post once about moms who get on the floor and do everything with their kids, and the kinds of moms that are just separate. I make it sound sad, but it was really inspiring. That one post just totally gave me the freedom to be the kind of mom that I am and be okay with not wanting to do kid things. I tend to let the kids free range and clean up later. I don’t like playing with toys or doing craft projects all the time. My daughter (4.5) often gets out craft supplies herself and just makes something, which is awesome, because she is using her imagination and not following exactly what I have her do.

  3. says

    I loved this post, Jamie! Thanks for sharing! As important as it is to engage with our kids SOME of the time, it’s equally as important to let them do their own thing other times (which gives us the freedom to do ours–which is good for EVERYONE).

  4. says

    Great post, Jamie! I needed that today. You do amazing things at your house – but it’s comforting to know that you don’t do this ALL the time – I’m glad I’m not the only one who does hands-on just a few times a week. And it’s all okay. :)

  5. says

    Thank you for sharing this! My son would not let me be a hands-on mom! It was so much harder for me to step back because he needed a lot of help due to his Down syndrome, but that did not bother him! He was OK with getting frustrated! Some kids fall apart, not him, he’ll hang on and try and try and try and… hmmm. I wonder where he gets it from?!)


  6. says

    I have just read the article you mention and I agree with it just 50%. I mean, I want my kids to be able to solve problems by themselves, but I also want them to know that I am here with them, they can count on me as a part of the solution. Learning is a long, long travel, and even us need help from others. For example, I can count on my mother to take care of my kids on saturday mornings when I am working. Can I solve this without my mother? Yes I can, but I prefer to count on her as one of the solutions, the best one I think ;)

    • says

      Totally understand where you’re coming from. Such a fine line. I think balance is key – a little bit of both. Give them room to learn but yet a shoulder to lean on when needed as well. I’m glad you pointed it out because I never thought of the article in that aspect! Thanks Mercedes!

  7. says

    I think it is a really key skill to learn – to play and entertain yourself. I think being engaged and meeting their needs in a loving way is most important. Hands on stuff is fun too – but not needed every minute of everyday. ;-)

    • says

      It is a key skill. And I think its a very hard one for us, as parents, to let them learn. At least it is for me. There is a time, I do think, in the toddler stage that they need to learn how to play too though – I realized that awhile back with my oldest – he didn’t have anyone to watch how to play with toys, so he had no idea what to do with them. So it does go both ways.

      Hands on play is definitely not needed every minute of every day :) It IS okay!

  8. Marissa says

    Thank you, I really needed this right now. I have been so busy lately, and I have been worrying about not playing with them. But honestly, they are fine. The are usually lost in an imaginary world that I would probably disrupt.

  9. Melissa says

    My house is all baby proofed at this point and I’m comfortable letting my 18/month old explore her toys on her own sometimes. There’s not much arts&crafts type stuff for us to do yet and I think she needs her own time to develop independent play skills. I didn’t have any siblings until I was almost 8 so I know what it’s like to play on your own. My parents were always around if I needed them but they left me to my own devices often enough too. I think it made me more of a creative child and that’s carried over into my adult life as a first grade teacher.

  10. Layla says

    My son has ADHD, is extremely smart and in the AIG classes but VERY lazy at times. He is now in the 6th grade and we struggle daily with him to do his class work. His therapist has now told us that it is time to step back and help him when needed but not to keep nagging. It is important for him to learn to do it himself of face the consequences. Sitting back and thinking, I wish I would have done this sooner so that maybe letting him go through the trials on his own would have kept us from getting to this point.

  11. says

    I love this post. I am a WAHM of two boys and my littlest one is about to be two. I am constantly feeling guilty that I don’t do enough activities with him between work, the house, his older brother, and general life stuff. I’m really looking forward to the weekly newsletter I just signed up for and the weekly activities planner. Such a relief to ‘hear’ that I am not alone in this.

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