Why Do Other People Have More Fun With My Kids Than I Do?

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Categories Family, ToddlersTags

This week I had to leave the kids with family and babysitters for most of their waking hours. My husband was in the hospital for gastric bypass surgery, and so I was at the hospital quite a bit. After every hospital shift, I came home to my kids to hear the “report.” And this is basically what I heard every time: “Oh, they were so good! We had such a good time! No crying or screaming, they ate, went to bed easily. They sat on my lap and we read for half an hour!”

What??!! No CRYING? No SCREAMING?! They were happy the whole time?!!

Seriously, what gives? After bringing my husband home from the hospital today, I endured another day with my screaming offspring. They fight over my lap, my time, my attention, the toys and floor space. They cry with little to no provocation. They fling themselves on the ground in protest to the word “no.” They throw toys, hit, and can destroy our home in 2.8 seconds. I spent my afternoon creating fun things to do (wrestling, playing with play dough, practicing flips, watching a music DVD and allowing them to “help” me in the kitchen.) Now, I think that sounds like a pretty good day, but to my 16 month old son and daughter, it was akin to torture. At least it must have been based on the level of unhappiness. At one point, my aunt called and I had to take the call on the front porch while watching the kids through the bay window just so I could hear her over the crying. They were terribly vexed that I had decided to stand up and answer the phone, and were uncontrollably sobbing. My poor recuperating husband has asked for earplugs!

Helping Mom clean the playroom.
Helping Mom clean the playroom.

 

So, please, dear readers, tell me what gives?! Why are my kids seemingly happier with everyone other than me?! Is it because I discipline? Have higher standards? Still have to run the household? Why, oh why, do my children act so unhappy with me and not everybody else?!

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17 thoughts on “Why Do Other People Have More Fun With My Kids Than I Do?”

  1. OMG, this is so how it goes at our house too. My kids make me look like the biggest whiner! I always have one stuck to me or screaming. Someone else watches them? Happiness and sunshine. I hope it’s an early toddler stage (15 months and counting). If you figure it out, let me know!

  2. It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? I’ve heard it explained that it has to do with the fact that they feel most comfortable around mom, so they can let out any emotion they have and test their boundaries. Whereas with other people they’re more reserved or on their “best” behavior? I don’t know. I mean, I’m glad they’re comfortable with me and all, but COME ON!

  3. I also believe that idea that the kids “let it all out” with mom because she is their safest haven for showing their emotions. I can sympathize with this post because I sort of have this difference with my husband- he thinks their daily care is no big deal, in fact he does it solo for 2 or 3 days each week from 8-530 while I work. The difference is, that I handle the morning chaos through breakfast time, and I take over evening duty, dinner, bath & bed the moment I hit the door. So in my view, the Mom usually handles not only the daytime when she’s on duty, but also those key early morning, evening and bedtime transitions which are the most exhausting. In other words, you may feel more overwhelmed knowing your real “break” time is not in sight and you can’t hand them over to anyone for the evening while you recover. At least that is my experience!

  4. I heard this time and time again with my oldest. Now even the twins are better when I am not around, that incudes with dad. At least we are the ones they want the most when they need comforting.

  5. My three kids are the same. I agree with the pp’s it’s because they are most comfortable with you. It is heartbreaking though and drives me crazy.

  6. Ugh. I’m so glad it’s not just me, but it really does suck, doesn’t it? Especially since my kids are in daycare full time, I really want to just enjoy the time we have together. Instead, I feel like often the three of us see each other at our worst for most of our hours of “quality time.”

    You’re not alone!

  7. Yup – sounds familiar. For us, I think it’s because my attention is not only divided among the 3 kids, but I’m also always trying to get something done when I’m at home. If someone comes in to watch the kids – that’s ALL they are doing. They aren’t distracted by dishes or laundry (or blogging) or anything else.

    I also agree that it’s because they’re most comfortable with mom…they know somewhere deep down inside that no matter what they do, mom will always love them. Just a theory :)

  8. It is so funny how this website almost always has a post that speaks to what is going on in my life with my girls! I have just asked the same question of my mom friends as my 8 month olds get nothing but “they are such great, mellow babies” comments from friends but they fuss and cry at me when we’re home alone. I have also heard the “emotional steam” “you are the safest one” theory and believe that to be true and somewhat permanent!

  9. Krissy,

    The answer to all of your questions is YES! My kids do it and I totally believe it is because I discipline (grandparents discipline, who’s heard of that?) and have to do house stuff and play with them. I totally agree that it is frustrating. Here is my biggest piece of advice (one I am considering writing in your features spot) start checking out preschools in your area for next fall. I know it sounds crazy, but in my area, you get your spot in February for the falling September. It is my biggest regret not putting my girls in when they were two…for all of us. It is only three hours per day but they get to be around other kids, other adults and you get a little time. Now my girls are over 3 1/2 and go four days per week for three hours. My time with them is so much sweeter. I have gotten my work done and can actually just hang out with them. Then they are acting out for attention and I don’t have to constantly discipline and feel guilty and do my stuff. I know it doesn’t help right now but I actually believe preschool has changed our lives. For now, know that your experience it TOTALLY normal.

    Heather

  10. Oh. My. Gosh. I just got home from work to find my brother sitting on the couch with one twin asleep in his arms, one asleep on the couch, and my 2-yr-old happily playing trains on the floor. He said they were ‘no problem’ and a ‘piece of cake’. Same thing happened earlier this week with my mother-in-law. She added ‘you’re so lucky to have such easy kids’. Of course, within 5 minutes of the person watching my kids leaving the house, the kids were all screaming and throwing tantrums. It drives me crazy. I think some big reasons it happens is the discipline thing that’s been stated, the other concerns thing (I actually have to cook meals, do dishes, laundry, etc) and for me the hardest thing is being patient after getting 4 hrs of sleep or less for the past 6 months since my twins were born. When they scream at the same time and then my toddler joins in, I want to rip my hair out. When someone won’t go down for naps, I’m upset because now *I* don’t get a nap. And I need one. Badly. At least it’s taught me to not draw conclusions about other kids’ behavior based strictly on when I babysit them!!

  11. This is too true!!! We live in France and just visited family and friends for three weeks back in the states. EVERYONE was saying how well behaved my eight month old boys were. I had pre-warned people about how fussy they are, and in the end, people just gave them back to me and told me I was crazy. Although I actually had a doctor mention to me how this works. She said that babies/small children know they can get away with a lot more with mom. They simply don’t bother with the temper tantrums etc. with others. I know, it’s really annoying!

  12. After reading your post I clicked in to comment and would have said EXACTLY what Goddess in Progress did!

    Now that mine are 7, people are ALWAYS coming up to me and saying how amazingly behaved, polite, respectful and accommodating they are…and invariably I find myself (in disbelief) saying “REALLY?” (Then I feel guilty for under-estimating my kids….) Sometimes it’s just so hard to believe in the “goodness” when button-pushing and intentional envelope-boundary pushing at home is incessant…but I do see even when in others’ homes, they’re on their best behavior. Just at home……

    You’re not alone, and thank you for making me feel not all alone!

  13. you know how there is always a silver lining? well, mine is that i feel a lot less guilty leaving them with others (a lot more often lately) in order to do my stuff. i know they are being great, and that makes it easier for me to go. :)

  14. It sounds like you are explaining MY children. I also love the fact that they always decide to freak out once I am on the phone. They could be perfect angels and then BAM their evil “twins” come out!

  15. You described my house to a T. Can’t add anything here. We’re on a trip right now and the kids have been acting like complete angels in front of family. Yahoo! but why can’t they do this at home?!?!?!?!

  16. Mine do that with their daddy too. Annoying. Krissy, thinking of you and your husband and hope he is feeling well. Surgery is tough on the whole family. I wish I lived near you so I could bring something over!

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