Caitlin Murray explains why she’s never engaged in ‘imaginary play’ with her three kids, sparking debate

child playing with train- imaginary play

Parenting is utterly exhausting, especially in the early years when they want to spend all day playing. If you’ve ever felt guilty for letting your kid play alone—or you simply can’t stand playtimeCaitlin Murray (aka Big Time Adulting) is here to make you feel a little less bad about it.

Murray recently shared a selfie with the caption: “I am not my kids’ playmate.” In the caption of her post, the mom of three explained why she’s never “engaged in ‘real’ play” with her kids, and it will make you feel relieved if you’ve ever declined to get on the floor to entertain your own child.

“I engage with my kids, a lot,” she began. “I talk with them (it’s one of the things I love most about them getting older), I joke with them, cuddle them, dance with them, do a puzzle, get active outdoors or play sports with them, but under pretty much zero circumstances, will I ever engage in play that involves role playing or doing anything imaginary because…wait for it…I can’t f*cking stand it.”

“It bores me to absolute drips and, to be honest, I do enough task-oriented things for my kids that I have to do (meals, clean up, laundry etc), and I refuse to add ‘play’ to that list,” she continued. “I simply do not enjoy it, and my energy is important to me. When/if they’ve asked me to play, I let them know in a soft way that it’s not something I do. They accept it and move on.”

When she has admitted this before, Murray says people have been “appalled” or have called it “sad,” but she feels differently, noting that she thinks it’s “kind of normal for a grown woman not to be interested in playing princesses.”

“If you enjoy imaginary play with your kids, that’s awesome,” she writes. “I hope both you and your children have wonderfully fond memories of it together—my point is not to take away from your experience.”

“Many of us become parents and are surprised by the parts of it we find less than appealing, and that’s ok,” she adds. “There is NEVER only one right way to do something. My kids are awesome and my relationship with them is so solid. I have found that trusting my own instincts in what’s best for me and my kids has almost always been the right thing for us, and I hope more parents can find peace knowing there is no formula or script or way that you need to feel like you have to do things. Your way will do just fine. F*ck the guilt,” she concludes.

So many commenters shared that they “feel seen” by Murray’s candor, with one person writing, “I have such guilt for not enjoying imaginary play. Thank you for sharing this.”

One person invited a different perspective, adding, “This is a privilege. Some kiddos, especially those with disabilities, need support in play.” Of course, Murray did acknowledge that there’s not just one right way to parent, so each child—and each mom, for that matter—will have different wants and needs. And it’s all good! What works for one might not work for another, and that’s kinda what makes the world go ‘round.