Jrose, we've had many of the same problems you have over the past year (EnviroKid is 3 years 8 months) and we have NOT moved or had any major disruption! I think it has a lot to do with this stage of life, the transition from baby to more autonomous person. We can make it as smooth as possible with the continuum, but because of developments in brain structure and so forth it's still going to be a somewhat turbulent time--like adolescence.
I think you're really on the right track with backing away from the child-centeredness and having your own things to do. At the same time, though, it's important to respect the things your child "needs to get done" to some extent. This is easier as he gets more verbal. EnviroKid often asks me to play with him, but he also often wants to do tasks that are useful or imitating a useful task, for example, "I need to write some things in my checkbook." which means he's going to flip thru his small notepad scribbling on various pages and ripping out some of them. When possible, I respond to his desire to work on something by working with or alongside him: "Oh, I need to write some things in my checkbook, too," and take that opportunity to pay the bills. After all, that's how I want him to respond to my needing to get things done! I flex my schedule to accommodate him, and vice versa.
Not that it works all the time!! But it helps.
When you go to "kid places", do what YOU want to do there and avoid hovering over your son. That doesn't mean you can't play together. Just walk into it like you know what to do there, instead of acting like this is all for him and it's up to him to decide what to do.
Speaking of which, EnviroDaddy recently took up parkour, a sort of sport that you can do in the everyday environment. Very continuum.
Now when he goes to the playground with EnviroKid, he immediately starts jumping all over the equipment (being careful of kids, of course!) and gets some good exercise while leaving EnviroKid to imitate (he's very sensible about what to attempt) or play on his own. I've been doing some of this, too; I'm not as acrobatic, but I do like climbing and jumping, and they are useful skills for taking shortcuts.
|maybe ds is SO mad at dh right now because when dh comes home he is trying to mend their relationship by offering to play with him but ds never wants to. He gets very angry and says he wants ME to play with him. Maybe ds shoudl just go about his business and do interesting things he wants to do and ds can just hang out.
We're still trying to solve an "I don't like Daddy" problem, too, but one thing we've learned is: It's just deadly for EnviroDaddy to "offer to play" or "try to play" with EnviroKid on purpose with the intention of healing. It seems so kind and generous, but it boils down to a sort of wheedling to get the kid to fix the problem: "Come on, wouldn't it be nice to have fun together? Show me what's fun. See how I'm trying to win your acceptance?"
It works a lot better when EnviroDaddy tells EnviroKid that he's about to do something really interesting and then lets him join in if he wants to: "Look, I bought a new door lock. I'm going to take out the old one and put this one in." Then start doing it, responding to requests for involvement: "The drill is too heavy for you, but I need someone to hold the screws." Talk about what you're doing as long as the kid is hanging around. My dad was excellent at this, and as a result I'm semi-familiar with things like resistors and gears even though they're not so high on my list of personal interests.
|what about that whole Playful Parenting thing that says kids do well when we give them 30 min a day of floor time when we play what they want to play?
I find that when I try to do that (usually out of guilt that I'm not paying enough attention to my child), he's extremely bossy and critical; it's no fun for me because everything I do is "wrong" to him. If I'm going to play what he wants to play, he figures it should be played EXACTLY as he plans it. I find this very upsetting.
: Instead, once in a while I'll start playing with some toys, and when he comes over to see what I'm doing I tell him about it, and then if he starts offering ideas I model how we accept input from playmates.
Toilet training: After lots of naked time and explaining how convenient it is to use the toilet, we did a sticker chart. Not very continuum-sounding, but it was very effective very quickly.
It seemed to help EnviroKid understand that this was something he could do for himself, not just because we wanted him to, and once he did he was very good at it, with hardly any accidents.