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How often should we play with 5 year old? (DH and I disagree on this...) - Page 2

post #21 of 28

If I just have DS home (he's 6) he can play by himself for a good half hour, but often not more. If DD is also home, then its maybe an hour with little or no interuptions. But if I also have their friends over, it is even longer. Occasionally I'll pop in on them to be sure the friend is ok, but when they have company it is much less interaction from me.


The idea of playdate swap would also probably suit you well. Then you are sure of your free time.


I also notice that it depends on what I am doing. If I am washing laundry, vacuming, painting... then the kids are not interested in getting me to stop. But if I am on the computer, even if it is work related, they want to get me to stop. So I do computer time when they are in bed. And during the 20 minutes when they have their own computer time.


Sometimes I am not feeling like playing, but I remind myself of something, and it really does help get me more excited about playing. Its this: I know lots of people who look back and say "I wish I had spent more time with my kids." (playing, reading, listening, whatever...) But I have never known anyone who looked back and said "I wish I had spent less time with my kids."

post #22 of 28
Originally Posted by JustSo View Post

My work does really just involve a laptop (I write) so conceivably, I could take it with me wherever. I have tried that in the past, but found it difficult to coherently finish a train of thought when I'm constantly looking up to make sure he's still in the vicinity or not about to fall off something (he likes to climb). Haven't tried it in a while though, so I should give it another go. 

I totally get this, I can only seem to concentrate when I'm home & know DS is safe, it's hard to keep track of a kid in public while working on a laptop (or doing much of anything besides casual conversation!!) I WAH as well so I understand some of your frustrations. My DS is only 2 so I'm in a slightly different situation. But what works sooo well for me is working when he is asleep. He goes to bed really late, so he sleep in until 9 or 10am. So I get up at 6am every day and work 'til about 10 to get at least 20 hours/week in. I am NOT a morning person and I'm only getting about 6 hours of sleep a night but it's just way better than trying to work while he's awake. Do you think you could schedule some time like that? Maybe after he goes to bed (but still give yourself some time to wind down?) Even if that's not an option, I guess I'd really try to structure your work schedule differently somehow... Work more often but fewer hours/day or something...

I can't say what's typical for a 5yo since I don't have one but I would guess it would be much easier if he had siblings or friends around to play with... I don't think I'd expect him to play by himself for long periods of time, though I do agree he should have SOME alone time to develop his creativity etc. Maybe too it would help if part of his 'alone time' was structured -- so you could plan a home-based activity each day (things like crafts, reading, scavenger hunt, small science experiments, whatever he'd be into) and that could take up part of the time so he's not trying to entertain himself for hours on end... Could even have a schedule with pictures of what open-ended activites he can do. Also, have you tried putting on the radio? That could help him feel a little less alone... Also DS loves to just sit with me while I play music on the laptop. He has requests & I find them on youtube while I'm working.
post #23 of 28

I think maybe he does need to be played with more. I have a 5 year old and a 2.5 year old. My 5 year old can play beautifully by himself, but he plays with his brother pretty much all the time, proving that kids rather have company to play rather than amusing themselves...


and I agree to get him to help out with the household chores.. when you do anything like that get him to help you :) good luck hun! x

post #24 of 28

Only read one page of responses, so this could be redundant- sorry!


Could you put together little bags of open-ended "props" for play? When you need to be working, you could give him one of these. Rotate materials enough so that he doesn't get bored. Or have little notecards with focused activities written on them- scavenger hunts, little chores, etc.


You know better than any of us whether he's bored, truly craving attention, or what have you. I do agree that at his age it's important for creative development to not rely on others for entertainment- toys like playsilks, blocks, or instruments can really help to foster creativity.



post #25 of 28
DH works out of the home all day, but when he gets home at night and on the weekends, he needs to be in the office on the computer. When DS asks him to play, DH will put off what he's doing to accommodate DS's request. To read, play ball, whatever. He says he feels bad for DS and always tries to accommodate him because DS "needs a playmate." I happen to disagree. We are his parents, not his playmates, and we don't always have to be his source of entertainment. In fact, I strongly feel that we could be doing him a great disservice, by always coming up with something to do with him, when really, he should be learning to use his imagination and creativity to find something to do on his own, you know? Plus, whenever DH does this, he winds up having to stay up in the wee hours of the night, finishing paperwork, and ultimately, he sacrifices sleep and that has a trickle down effect on all of us.

I have to say that I agree with your husband 100% on this point. He sounds like he is being a great dad. Sometimes work needs to wait while the more important things take priority, like interacting with your young children and building a relationship and memories. I understand how hard it can be when a parent needs to work into the wee hours and gets exhausted because of it, but I still believe family times is a priority. Even two hours of attention, play, and love in the evening can make a world of difference to a child and to a family.

I know how heartbroken my daughter and husband would be if, after a full day of work out of the home, he had dinner and then needed to lock himself in the home office, only to come out for a quick "goodnight" before bedtime. They would essentially have a non-relationship if they did not get one-on-one time together.
Same goes for on the weekend. Weekends are not completely free for us, but we make sure that our daughter gets lots of family time; all three of us together, and also some one-on-one special time with her papa or me.

These years go by SO FAST, and then they are gone forever. I don't think of it so much as "We are his parents, not his playmates, and we don't always have to be his source of entertainment." To me it feels more like, "We are his parents and we teach through play, interaction, reading, and talking how our child will live in this world and how he will experience it."
Children need to play with, work with, help out and be with their parents and other adults. It is how they learn life skills, how they grow, how they learn to interact with other people, and it makes them feel loved and cherished. At our preschool we had a big sign near the door, "A child's play is their work." I loved that sign because it reminded me that children's play isn't all about them being entertained and out of our hair (though there are times when that is necessary!). Children's play is how they experience the work, how they learn. How our children play now will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Yes, I agree that it is important for children to learn self reliant play. At age five my daughter was able to color for an hour, play in the garden for 45 minutes, etc. I needed those independant play breaks, but I never expected them to last more than 45 minutes to an hour. My daughter needed to be able to "check in' frequently, and the majority of hear learning came when I was available to her. At the age of almost-eight is so confident and independent, but she still loves to play with us, and still learns through playing.
Edited by tinuviel_k - 5/25/11 at 10:35am
post #26 of 28

i will have to second the time tinuviel mentions. perhaps at this time when you are feeling you want to be able to do things - remember the time is not that far away when you will. i am the mother of an almost 9 year old. let me tell you its v. bittersweet not to be needed that much anymore. parenting has evolved and in a sense i am needed much more but not in time wise. AND our relationship is changing. now there are pieces of my dd's life i dont know about. its not that dd doesnt tell me. its just that those things are no longer important to her. 

post #27 of 28

With DS I also find it helps to have a calendar just for him. We set up the rhythms of life for him to keep track of (Highlight the weekends, use pictures to illustrate wether the day is a School day, a Grandma day, a Holiday, or a Sitter day). It primes the pumps, lets him know what to expect when he wakes up the next day.


I also like brainstorming with DS. "What are some things that you can do when mommy has to work?" and write down/draw everything you come up with so he can refer to it and you can use it as a tool. I also use language like "I need to do whatever, so I need you to find something you can do independently for x amount of time" and if I've said that I try to stick to the notion of no I'm not going to help you you need to find something you can manage on your own (now if it's a simple quick fix help that will get him settled and engaged in soemthing that will last a while I'll be a little more accommodating). You could also set things up that will draw him in. Don't tell him to go get some lego, set up a little lego tower or ship with men that will suck him into the activity.


Let him know what you need and set him up to successful during those times. You can even come up with some routines that work for the both of you (play in the morning- ~5 activities, together for lunch, movie/outside for the afternoon?). I think letting him know what you need and how he can help you can really get you off to a great start. Maybe even a sign or a signal that it's "Do-not-disturb" time.

post #28 of 28

My ds (now 6) has never been very good at playing independently.  His younger sister can entertain herself for hours while she plays in the same room with me.  One thing I notice with ds is that he needs things to be scheduled or written down somewhere or planned in advance.  If I tell him, "go find something to do" he just can't.  But if I have a schedule written on a white board that says, "from 4-5pm, H will play with Legos" he will generally submit to the authority of the schedule.  And it's even better if he himself has input on making the schedule. Also, then you could maybe schedule a 5-10 minute play session for yourself here and there throughout the day, and your ds can see it written down, and he can be more patient because he sees that you will play later. And maybe if you can play for a few scheduled minutes, that will allow ds to feel he's had enough attention from you to tide him over for another hour.

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