The 18 Best Mom Comebacks to 'Will You Play With Me?'

little girl wanting to

It's something every mom struggles with at some point: saying "No," "In a minute," or inwardly groaning when your child asks you to play. Saying or doing any of the above doesn't mean you're a bad mom. (Really! We've analyzed our feelings about this -- a lot.) But when there's laundry to be done, work to be handed in, cat vomit to clean up, and 14 bills to be paid, it can be just an eensy-weensy bit hard to file it all away and play Barbies.


Call it the curse of the Multi-Tasking Mom Brain. When you're capable of doing 4,000 things at once (or at least thinking about them), it's near impossible to turn off 3,999 and focus only on the imaginative world of the child you adore so much.


On the other hand, kids have infinite imaginations and time to burn. They love you and want you to play with them, but the truth is, they don't need you to have fun. And letting them do their own thing is awesome in oh-so-many-ways.

We polled (okay, begged) mothers to tell us how they've cleverly turned down an invitation to play in such a way that their kiddos weren't scarred for life. Read on for their, um, playful responses. 

1. The Deflection: "Would you like to help me unload the dishwasher or would you rather play by yourself?"

2. The "Play-by-Proxy:" "Sam down the street likes to play Thomas the Train, too. Let's see if he can come over."

3. The Compromise: "Yes, but let's set the timer for a few minutes of play time and a few minutes of Mommy time."

4. The Surprise Move: "Let's trade places. You be Mommy, I'll be you, and I'll pick what we play."

5. The Reality Check: "Do you want to play the Bathroom Cleaning Game or the Checking Email game? Those are Mommy's favorites."

6. The Passive-Aggressive Approach: "Let's pretend that I'm lost in the forest and you have to find me first."

7. The Coincidence: "First, I'd like to show you something fascinating ... Did you know that there is another child who lives right here in this house who also likes to play? How weird is that?!"

8. The Swap: "That depends. Are you going to make dinner and do the laundry?"

9. The Moment of Truth: "I would, but I love watching you play by yourself!"

More from CafeMom: I Stopped Playing With My Kid -- And We're Both Better Off Now

10. The Gentle Push: "Why don't you start and I'll join you in a bit?"

11. The Awkward Moment: "That depends. Are we playing, "Boring, No-Fun Mommy Who Needs to Work?"

12. The Historical Approach: "When I was a kid, my parents never played with me. I went outside or played in my room by myself for hours!"

13. The Game of Chicken: "If you can wait til I'm done with work/vacuuming/bathing the dog, I will."

14. The Cruise Director: "Let's make a list of five things you can play by yourself."

15. The Mash-Up: "Why don't you bring your cars into the kitchen and play while I peel the potatoes?"

16. The Ace in the Hole: "Where's Daddy? Daddy will play with you."

17. The Sleight of Hand: "Sure, let's go to the park and I can do my work there while you play. How's that?"

18. The Pep Talk: "Oh, you've got such a great imagination, I don't think you need me!"

Which of these comebacks do you use the most?

 comebacks for moms

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