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Feel like I'm just passing time an not "doing" anything

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I've never posted here before, but read quite often.  I only work 7 hours/wk, so I pretty much consider myself a SAHM.  Anyway, I have a 3 yr old and almost 1 yr old.  I really wonder if I'm doing enough, especially with the 3 yr old, each day.

I'm not a crafty type and have a hard time sitting down for projects at the table, and DD really doesn't enjoy them anyway.  I ask her almost everyday but she usually says no and it's a big struggle, so I figure that I'm not going to force her. 

I would say that the things we do each day, are go for a jog in the AM in the stroller, read a lot, play outside on the swingset, run errands, and watch about 2 episodes of Mickey Mouse (that's what DD1 does when I put DD2 down for a nap).  Obviously I cook lunch and dinner, but no other housework other than picking up is getting done.

I'm with them all day but I don't feel like I create a very stimulating environment.  We just kinda hang out and do what they seem to like at the moment.  I don't really set up activities or direct play.

Other moms of 3 yr olds are talking about how they practice writing, do art projects, gardening etc.  and we're just not doing that.  I find it challenging with both girls to really engage either one in something too elaborate, so when they're both awake I feel like I'm just keeping everyone happy until either naptime or DH comes home.


Sorry for the long ramble, I've just been feeling a little down on being a SAHM and wondering if they would be more stimulated in a group setting somewhere.  I know in my heart that that's not the answer, but I guess I'm just looking for a little advice/motivation/commisseration.


Thanks for reading and any responses!

post #2 of 17

Short on time but  wanted to respond that I feel like that sometimes, like all I can manage to do is keep everyone fed and out of danger!

On better days, though, I really think that the notion that little ones 'need' stimulation and contrived 'learning experiences' is a new idea. Thousands of generations of children have grown up to greatness just from doing what our kids do: hanging out at home just living!


As for the gardening and art projects; I guess I could spin it as a learning experience when someone asks what we did all day, but a gardening project here means that I tried to cram a few seedlings into the ground while praying that the 2 yo won't throw dirt in her sister's eyes or try to bury the dog! Art means I let them get paint all over the place so I could cook dinner in peace.


I work very part time too, and I wonder if that has something to do with it. It seems like just those few hours a week seem to suck up just enough time that I can't seem to plan outings, etc. as often as I would like.  

post #3 of 17

I don't have any advice, just subbing because I feel the same way most of the time but I don't even have the excuse of working part-time!  Hopefully others will have some motivating words.

post #4 of 17

"Doing something" with a three- or one-year-old takes about ten minutes.  They can't concentrate for longer.  Read a few short books.  Get a magna-doodle and draw with them, or write letters and turn them into animals or silly creatures, play with play-doh or stamps on the floor of the kitchen, have them spread their own peanut butter at lunch time.  Do three "things" in a day and you have been a very successful SAHM.  The rest of the time is managing chaos (diapers, meals, toys, naps) and sometimes getting in a moment to smell a freshly washed baby head or read a novel (or stare blankly at a wall... whatever). 

Also, trying to find other moms in your area for the occasional playdate or playground outing can be a huge help for all of you.


This time is so short, have fun!!  ;-)

post #5 of 17

I'm also not crafty and my kids don't seem very interested when I do try a craft activity. We have the standard options: playdough, paints, crayons, markers. I give them one of the option ("who wants to color with crayons?") and put the stuff on the table. I find they will sit there longer if I sit with them but, as pp said, about 10 min is the outside limit. 


My kids play with each other most of the day when we're at home. They play in the back yard digging at stuff or pretending to mow the grass or doing whatever mischief occurs in their little heads at the time. Inside they invent games and pretend stuff or argue or whatever. I try not to interfere too much. I believe that the roll of children is to play and they certainly don't need my help with that. 


I read stories intermittently or just make myself available for cuddles. The rest of the time, I'm cleaning something or doing laundry (they like to come down and press the start buttons on the washer and dryer) or making beds or reorganizing...my house gets messier faster than I tidy...the kids are interested in these activities, too, and will often "help" put away laundry (like make one trip with one dishrag to the drawer in the kitchen, but still...). They sometimes come sit on the floor while I'm making food. Or I try to give them a job if it's not too much hassle (with three, sometimes involving them in cooking on a daily basis is more than my personal level of patience can take). 


We get out of the house generally once a day - a walk to the store or to the park or both, get together with friends, shopping trip or other errands. They are learning and we (try to) enjoy each other's company on these outings. 


I sometimes also get insecure that I should be providing more of a dog-and-pony show, but I truly believe in my heart that it's not necessary. 

post #6 of 17

Originally Posted by mom2lucy View Post


I would say that the things we do each day, are go for a jog in the AM in the stroller, read a lot, play outside on the swingset, run errands, and watch about 2 episodes of Mickey Mouse (that's what DD1 does when I put DD2 down for a nap).  Obviously I cook lunch and dinner, but no other housework other than picking up is getting done.


I think that's plenty!  I don't think that it's a parent's job to entertain their kids all day.  As long as they are not just vegging in front of the TV all day - and I don't consider 2 episodes to be all day - and you get them out of the house sometimes, that's plenty.


I'd say maybe you need something else in your days.  Play dates are not just for the kids.  Go to park, meet up with other moms, do things to break up the days.


Gluing sequins on construction paper will not get your kids into Harvard so don't worry.


post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

THank you so much for the replies!  I feel a lot better knowing others are in the same boat.  I love the idea of "doing" 3 things a day.  That's a great goal and something measurable and attainable. 


When DD1 was a baby I was fully set against actively teaching her things (colors, letters, etc), and even considered homeschool/unschool, but now that she's getting older and more into society I find myself feeling like I should be teaching her more things because that's just what people seem to do.  The funny thing is that she is amazingly intelligent and what I consider to be above average compared to others in her playgroup. 

Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback and the validation that what we're doing is OK.

post #8 of 17
Originally Posted by mom2lucy View Post

THank you so much for the replies! I feel a lot better knowing others are in the same boat. I love the idea of "doing" 3 things a day. That's a great goal and something measurable and attainable.

When DD1 was a baby I was fully set against actively teaching her things (colors, letters, etc), and even considered homeschool/unschool, but now that she's getting older and more into society I find myself feeling like I should be teaching her more things because that's just what people seem to do. The funny thing is that she is amazingly intelligent and what I consider to be above average compared to others in her playgroup.

Anyway, I really appreciate the feedback and the validation that what we're doing is OK.

I think this is right on. They will pick it up when they want to learn it...why do we need to be pushing them to learn at 3? Your day sounds normal to me...that's what we do...if my kids want to do crafts they can, otherwise they play and argue and just do life.

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post #9 of 17

Sometimes I feel like that too, but then I realize that everything that is going on around my daughter, whether it's intentional or not, is stimulation for her. She pulls everything out of the cabinet while I do the dishes and she's learning something. We go grocery shopping and she's learning something. Mostly though, it helps me to remember why I'm staying home in the first place (and actually, I do work part time outside of the house with opposite hours of my wife), but we've specifically chosen to not send our daughter to daycare- even when I feel like I'm doing nothing, we're still breastfeeding on demand, reading stories, enjoying leisurely bathtime, wearing her on my back, and generally enjoying our time together. That time is important.

post #10 of 17

I so hear you on this! I feel more for my older daughter though as there are times I end up crashing with the baby because she won't sleep without being attached to me. We're still adjusting to being back in the US after being in South Korea and my older daughter and husband got home 5 months after I did. I returned last May to have the baby. I feel like nothing gets done especially on days I can barely get any food for myself much less the two kids.


I remember working on some writing with my older daughter when she was 3. I printed off some name tracing pages. She was interested and so she worked on it but we slacked off on it for awhile and I introduced it again and she was doing better and then for a long time didn't do anything and that's when she got motivated to write her name on her own without any tracing. She was very proud of herself when she was able to write her name on her own and in the end, I didn't even have to help her.


My mother never entertained us when we were little. I was either playing outside or in the living/back room area. Used to get into a lot of trouble too because my mom wasn't in the room watching me and I would get into some of her stuff (like her ceramic horses that were just SO much fun to play with lol). But yeah, feel like I should be doing more with my oldest especially as she's old enough to be in school now but she's not because DH wants to homeschool and I can't help but feel since we're not doing anything specific with her right now, she's going to fall behind.

post #11 of 17

When I was a nanny full time I'd get stir crazy being in the house all day w/littles so we made it a point to get out and do something everyday whether me met up w/other mamas and kids or just went and did stuff on our own. We went to story time at the library every week where we met some great moms & kids that we came to hang out with often, we went to the zoo, every park in town, the lake, hiking, to the town square lawn for pic-nics, even just running errands can be fun as long as the kids are engaged.

Last summer I was nannying for a 4 & 6 yr old and we'd go to the store and I'd let them pick out fruit for fruit salad and then we'd go thru the self check out cuz they LOVED ringing up their own purchases and it took FOREVER, and I'm sure there was heavy sighing going on in line behind us, but you know what? I didn't care!!!! They were HAPPY and learning and it was time I didn't have to figure out what to do with them or break up cat fights so we went with it!! And it was great! I think that's kinda key is incorporating things that you need to do as an adult and doing it in kid time in a way that's fun for them too. So much of our culture is rush rush rush and most of the time it's not that important to go that fast.


Janeen I also wanted to say that "falling behind" is all relative. As long as your child is not a couch potato every day (some days can be) she is learning what she needs to learn and it doesn't matter if it matches what her peers are doing in school or not. My best friend unschooled all 4 of her kids (they're now 15-21) and they are the smartest most articulate, loving children I have ever met! and none of them learned to read, write or do math "on time".

post #12 of 17

You gals are so encouraging.  I can't imagine feeling bored these days, but I do understand the feeling of not accomplishing much.  Going through seasons of having 1, then 2, then 3, and now 4  and pregnant, I am so running around all over meeting various needs that I don't feel like much "education" is happening- esp. when I homeschool.  We have lots of extracurricular activities, but the core subjects go overlooked often b/c I am so tired running around helping another little one.  I have one in 1st grade and one starting K, so the expectations are not super high at this point.  Both of them can read and write and do math and have met all their standards for their grades, but the amount of time I spend accomplishing something formal or tangible or "schoollike" is small.

I'm not much for appeasing other people or caring about what is normal.  But I do want the best for my kids- their best.  But I think sometimes what I want for them is really not what really is best for them.  They are still kids and I know kids learn best when they are loved, spent time with, and get to explore all on their own- and ask questions along the way. 

So, I tell myself- Relax!  Breathe!  Feel Blessed in knowing that little goes far.

post #13 of 17
I follow my kids' lead. I am not one to really play with my kids lots, though I will set them up with projects, or read to them, or let them "help" me. But I don't really sit and play games with them. I honestly think it's good for kids to learn to entertain themselves, and I definitely don't feel like I need to specifically sit down and educate them. Kids are natural learners and learn through play. My older dd is in the gifted program at her school so my lack of personally educating her hasn't held her back or anything. I can't imagine purposely teaching a child letters or anything. Just read to them - they'll start pointing to letters and telling you what they are on their own, and then follow their lead with that.

I would cut yourself a huge amount of slack is basically what I'm saying. It isn't your job to continually stimulate your kids. I'm not even convinced that's in their best interest. Make their home environment stimulating, as in have toys available for them, make sure they have things to do, and certainly interact with them throughout the day, but it's really OK for them to just play.
post #14 of 17

Okay...number one...You are doing just fine! Answer the questions that come up to the best of your ability and you are rock and roll! In my opinion, what kids need to learn at this point is how to navigate their world appropriately...the rest is icing. 


Number two...If your kids (and you) are into writing  or table work and so on then great but if not, there is NO sense in pushing it. Doing too much too soon may not be good for them (if it is intrinsic then great but otherwise, no sense in pushing it). Forcing them to do it now will make them less enthused in the future.


AND learning to read and write doesn't have to happen at a table! tracing letters in the sandbox is equally good if not better.


questions to ask along the way (that you probably ask if not answer already):

What color are the leaves on your walk? What colors do you see on your walk? Can you find the letter A in this aisle of the supermarket? If you were a superhero what would your super power be? (that is by far my favorite line of questioning) What does a mailperson do? How many bugs is that? Can you hop on one foot? How many apples? First we spray the water and vinegar, then we wipe it with the rag. We are going to take turn with your sister? How does that make you feel? Why do YOU think the sky is blue? What is your favorite ____? Is it a square or a rectangle?


The real question is...are you doing your 3yr old's preschool.

If not, then leave the crafts and circle time and all that to the preschool and allow your child to be a child (if you are nervous about what people will say, then read up on overscheduling children, the importance of imagination and letting children play and a physical relationship with their environment and game over).

If you are doing their preschool, then know that in order to be considered academically ready for Kindergarten they need to be able to sit for some time (you can accomplish this when she is 4 and your little one is 2), know shapes, colors, letters, numbers, count to twenty...I bet they know most of this stuff already.

Table work is one way to do this but not the only. You can work fine motor skills in the sandbox, kitchen, anywhere.

The key to crafts is having everything out before they come to the table...easier said then done! But you don't have to do this either. (If guilt overcomes you look at Frobel's gifts and use or adapt them as you see fit.) But it doesn't sound like either of you are into table work kinds of things...and of ALL this things in this world to fight 3yr old with...really, does macaroni necklaces have to be top of the list?


Creativity doesn't come from sitting at a table with colored pasta, it comes books and allowing the mind to unfold and explore. There is a lot to be said for a naturalistic approach.


If you want to work fine motor skills you can do by having her do things around the house. But also, you may want to go large bolts and nuts to screw on and off, scissors and put a bunch of recycling (or bank statements ^_^) in a bin and let her cut cut cut. Playdoh is a good thing but making cookies, biscuits and bread is too!


number three...other moms are creating a world in which they can coexist in happy harmony with their children. You are doing the same it just doesn't look like their model...it looks like the one that fits your house...as it should be.


And finally (promise) number four...My kids are the same ages as yours. It is very VERY difficult to do something focused with both at the same time. When they are both awake, I am trying to keep everyone alive! I try to set aside 10 minutes every hour to sit on the floor and read a book, play a game, etc (some days are better than others!) but I ask questions throughout the day as they come up. I also have them help me through out the house...the one year old pulls the clothes out the dryer into the basket (and then onto the floor) while the 3yr old helps me sort the clothes. I put more focus on getting everyone to help me in the kitchen then I do on setting up a sensory table. For example before we sweep the floor, we make biscuits and the 1 year old gets flour and raisins or yogurt and something in a bowl with a spoon and the 3yr old mixes, pats, and plunges the biscuit cutter (the last little scraps he makes into an animal with raisin eyes). I'm not going to lie, some days we eat the biscuits because they are there but most times they taste fine. My son happens to like table work and is eager to read books on his own but some days he just isn't into it so we don't. I can say I very much doubt my daughter will be as diligent in which case we will take a different approach that will suit her.

I have learned that to be able to focus on the things that my son wants to learn (like complex books, writing, sight words, gluing cutting, etc) my 1yr old MUST be asleep. In our house it works as a symbiotic relationship: He is quietly working, she is sleeping, I am writing a post! When my 1yr old is up, we do gross motor (balance beam, cleaning, playground).


In my opinion it is more important to have structure to the day (which it looks like you have) then structured activities.

Hope that helps...if you want easy craft ideas, email me...



post #15 of 17

sounds like you are pretty good. wish  i had energy to do all that.

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the continued replies to this thread, I'm learning a lot!

post #17 of 17


here I recently read this it made me think of you and thought it would make you feel better:





Here is a list of stuff you can do (most of which you are already doing):


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