Motivational coach Darah Zeledon in Plantation Acres, Fla., is the mom of five, ranging from 5 to 12, and acknowledges she has trouble unplugging if the laundry, dishes and spilled cat litter aren't dealt with.
"It saddens me to be this way because I recognize that this window is short and time is fleeting, and for not much longer will my kids be begging me to play with them," she said.
She's honest with her kids about it, though, and works to remain approachable.
"My kids always tell me what they're feeling, even and especially when they're pissed at me for not taking the time to play with them," Zeledon said.
Patrick Lee, in the central Missouri city of Ashland, raised four daughters and fostered two sons. "I played some, but I didn't need to be their playmate all the time and I certainly didn't feel guilty about it," he said, noting that he worked from home during much of their upbringing and his wife homeschooled.
At 62, now a grandfather, he found himself looking back on those times during a family gathering at Thanksgiving. He was in a park far from home and was the only adult in the group to accompany a pack of young relatives on the slides. Eight other grown-ups stood on the perimeter and watched, he said.
"Now that my kids are grown, I don't regret my choices to let them amuse themselves," Lee said. "Those were formative, imaginative times for them. But sometimes I wish I had played with them more."