My DD will be 4 in January, and while she will play quietyly by herself spontaneously, she won't if I ASK her to. I have a 6-month-old baby who needs naps, and who also gets frustrated when it's loud when he's nursing. Right now I park DD in front of the TV when baby needs a nap or sometimes if he needs to eat (he'll start to cry if she's talking too much or if I talk to her a lot while he nurses). I try and do all the "right" things: "What quiet activity would you like to do while mommy feeds brother?"; "Would you like to do puzzles or your felt dolls?" etc. but she will just persist with the "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" incessantly while I nurse. Other people I know who have preschoolers/babies the same age span tell me their kids play quietly in another room...my mom has gone so far as to say I "play with her too much" and that she can't entertain herself. Of course I disagree, but I wonder if this is normal 3.5 year old stuff or if this is a potential issue for her? Just curious!
3.5 year old can't/won't play by herself?
I think this is normal for the age. And especially normal because she has a baby sibling. In her mind you are announcing "I will be totally unavailable for you for the next little while", so, just as if you needed to make an important phone call or prepare dinner that's when she wants you the most! Add to that the complicating emotional factor of "baby's getting the attention, but I'm not!". So, yup, normal. How to deal I guess is the question.
My kiddos are 3 years apart too so I have totally BTDT with the 3.5yo and 6month old. Like you I sometimes used TV as a sanity saver while I put ds down for a nap. If that's what it takes to get through the day with sanity intact then go for it, I say. Besides that, a few non-tv ideas that worked for me:
- have baby nap "on the go". When it's approaching nap time pop him in a carrier or stroller and go for a walk to the park. Dd can play while baby sleeps. A twist is to have dd in the stroller and ds in the carrier, and just go for a nice long walk. A bonus is everyone gets some fresh air and mama gets some exercise. :)
- have a "nap time box" filled with super exciting stuff - toys, activity books, craft stuff, whatever - that only comes out when mama needs to nurse baby.
- try audio books instead of tv if you're trying to get away from screen time.
- if you are ok with screen time try an education game like starfall. Unreasonable or not it might make you feel better about yourself (ask me how I know, lol!!!).
Now, here is the super-good-news, BONUS to the whole thing. In a while, not tomorrow, not a few months down the road, but probably in a year or a year and a half, your two kiddos are going to start keeping *each other* more occupied than a pile of toys ever could. They will be built-in playmates and very well might just disappear for hours upstairs or outside playing all kinds of imaginative games. That's when it all pays off mama. ;)
SO totally normal. I agree with pianojazzgirl almost completely. (My kids are 2 y, 9 mo apart.) Except for me this:
has never happened, and they're 5 and 8 now. Granted, they both CAN self-entertain now, but together, not so much.
Hang in there.
Ooops... I guess I shouldn't take things over here for granted. Let's just say there's a chance that in a couple of years they'll make good playmates. ;)
Mine are just-turned-four and 14 months, and NO the older one will not play on his own at naptime. No matter what I say or do. The only thing that keeps him in the other room for the 5-15 minutes it takes me to put his sister down for a nap is to put on an audio story. The only thing!
And no, he doesn't much like to play on his own during other times, either. And I, too, listen to my friends tell me that their kids play on their own all the time, and wonder what I've done wrong. Some kids, I figure, just need their mamas more. (I've been told by other mothers that it's quite common esp. in first-borns, which makes and awful lot of sense.)