Do you feel like you are "supposed" to entertain them all day? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-19-2008, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd is 4.5 years old and has always been one of those kids who jumps from activity to activity, ever lingering on anything for more than 3 minutes. My ds who is just now 2 is actually better at entertaining himself than she is. I can set them up with an activity (playdough or something) and they will do it for awhile, and then they are done and back at harassing me.

It seems like *I* am their primary plaything. they want me to interact with them constantly, all. day. long. they want to climb/jump on me. they want me to engage in games or pretend with them.

I guess i just feel like...i will interact with them, up to a point. I dont feel its my job to be their entertainment. but the only way i really get a break is to put them in front of a video, which i've been doing more and more lately and i hate it. i used to be so anti tv, but its the only way they will leave me alone!

is it my job to interact with them all day? what is my job in regards to what we do? on days where we are mostly home, i really start going nuts because they just wont leave me alone!!

L married to J 8 years. Parents to 6 y.o. dd and 3 y.o. ds :nana
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Old 11-19-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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No. I don't do a lot of playing. I read to her lots, and my daughter joins in with me and we do activities together like cooking and cleaning. I set up craft projects if she's interested. But I don't think playing is my job, and my thought has been that my daughter - so far an only child - would be well served by learning to entertain herself. She is now very very good at that and it is a gift that will be with her for the rest of her life.
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Old 11-19-2008, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess i should clarify, i don't even mean playing with them all day. I just mean interacting allllllllll day long, setting up activities, etc. I never, and i mean never, see them just get out an activity or start playing something without me prompting it : There is no finding some way to entertain themselves, it seems. then i feel guilty because i feel like i need to do chores or just have time where i'm not dealing with them. i feel like maybe i am supposed to just be there for them all day. is that my job as a SAHM?

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Old 11-19-2008, 08:27 PM
 
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I don't interact all day. I'm available, obviously, if they have a question or a need, but I will sit down with the newspaper in the morning and tell them to go play while I drink coffee and eat breakfast. I get on the internet in the afternoon and they run off and play. They will come back and seek me out, and I'll chat with them for a second or read a quick board book here and there, but for the most part I tell them "Mommy is busy."

We usually have one big interactive activity each day - a trip to the playground with a nature hike or a long session of play doh where I play with them or a long walk through the neighborhood. That's when we talk in depth, find leaves, play together, etc. And my almost 4 year old goes to preschool or music class for 2 hours 4 days a week.

I find my attention gets pulled from what I am doing a lot, but I don't have any guilt about telling them to entertain themselves for awhile. They play pretty well together, though. They are both boys and not quite 2 years apart...not sure if that helps. If one of them keeps following me around while I'm trying to get something done, I'll go set up his train set, play for 2 minutes, then tell him to play by himself.

I would go insane if I played all day long (or interacted every moment of the day). I think it's important for them to see that grown-ups have needs and priorities, too. My mom didn't play with my all day (in fact, I think she rarely played at all) but I had great play relationships with my siblings and have always been very close to my mom. She just wasn't a "get down on the floor" type. I figure I'm a bit more in the middle than she was.

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Old 11-20-2008, 01:23 AM
 
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Nope. I have a household to run, a baby to nurse and look after, and meals to cook. I cannot be their personal entertainment all the time, otherwise we'd live in a pigsty and never eat. My boys are good at entertaining each other, however Henri gets antsy and clingy when Paddy is away at preschool. We have a finished basement that they can play in and make as big of a mess as they want. We have a fully fenced yard, so they can go outside sometimes (although Henri is tiny and doesn't enjoy the cold weather like his brother does). But anyway, there is lots for them to do around here.
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Old 11-20-2008, 03:34 PM
 
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No, I don't feel that I have to direct my kids activities all day long. My kids had creative toys and craft supplies available to them at all times, as well as a fenced yard to play in. I read stories to them regularly and maybe started them on a special craft now and then. Sometimes when kids have too many toys available they play with them for shorter amounts of time. Have you tried rotating the toys? My kids didn't watch tv when they were small and they had good attention spans. I noticed when kids came to play, the other kids tended to want to jump from activity to activity- inside to out, out to in, puzzles to blocks to dolls to dress up- all in a short time span. I had a friend who had no tv and whenever I watched her kids they played for a long time at one thing. Not judging here, just my experience. Do your kids know if they harrass you , they get to watch tv? Or if kids like to run inside/outside all the time ,you can limit it to you go out to play, but when you come back in ( not counting drinks/bathroom run), then you're in till lunchtime/whenever. That discourages that behavior. You need to be firm with them, and consistent. You can set up an activity, then say, Mom is going to do this - if you choose not to play "x" then you will have to put this away and find something else to do. It isn't fair to kids to let them think that you will be constantly available and at their beck and call at all times. Then you wind up not being able to even go to the bathroom without someone "needing "you. Kids need to realize mom is a person and has needs too, they need to be respectful of you too. To clarify, I am not talking about infants here.
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Old 11-20-2008, 03:40 PM
 
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I offer suggestions and choices, but I don't entertain them. I am involved in their play intermittently, but I don't spend a whole lot of time playing. And I nip the "I'm boooored!"'s in the bud by offering them chores to do when they say it. Hehe.

"Oh, you're bored!? GREAT! Here's the spray bottle (vinegar and water) and a rag... can you wash the windows? And here's the handvac, can you sweep the dining room for me?" I either wind up with streaky windows and half clean floors, or they find something else to entertain themselves with. :P
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Old 11-20-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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i am so glad i saw this thread....i have been feeling the very same way (like i'm supposed to keep dd entertained all day and then feeling guilty for not doing that). the last two weeks we've been indoors because i was sick and then the kids were sick and i feel like i'm about to lose my mind. then i feel guilty about that, because, i think, i shouldn't get tired of my children; but it's not the kids; it's being in our 2 bedroom apartment all day and night with the kids that's working my nerves ....hopefully we'll get back out next week...

but thanks to everybody for posting....i'll keep your words in mind next time i feel like i have to be the adult plaything....

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Old 11-20-2008, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennlyn View Post
Have you tried rotating the toys? My kids didn't watch tv when they were small and they had good attention spans. I noticed when kids came to play, the other kids tended to want to jump from activity to activity- inside to out, out to in, puzzles to blocks to dolls to dress up- all in a short time span. I had a friend who had no tv and whenever I watched her kids they played for a long time at one thing. Not judging here, just my experience. Do your kids know if they harrass you , they get to watch tv? Or if kids like to run inside/outside all the time ,you can limit it to you go out to play, but when you come back in ( not counting drinks/bathroom run), then you're in till lunchtime/whenever.
the rotating toys thing is a great idea. they don't have a LOT of toys. i mean, compared to some. but i'm guessing if only 3 or 4 "big" toys were out at any time, it might help. how often does one rotate? like every 4 or 5 days? i've been meaning to get in there and organize their toys for some time now, but it always gets pushed to the bottom of the list of to-dos. as for the tv, its mostly in the morning because i'm sleeping or in the afternoon, dd watches while ds takes a nap so i can get some down time.

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Originally Posted by akwifeandmomma View Post

"Oh, you're bored!? GREAT! Here's the spray bottle (vinegar and water) and a rag... can you wash the windows? And here's the handvac, can you sweep the dining room for me?" I either wind up with streaky windows and half clean floors, or they find something else to entertain themselves with. :P
that is a great idea!!

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Originally Posted by zebrachick83 View Post
i am so glad i saw this thread....i have been feeling the very same way (like i'm supposed to keep dd entertained all day and then feeling guilty for not doing that). the last two weeks we've been indoors because i was sick and then the kids were sick and i feel like i'm about to lose my mind. then i feel guilty about that, because, i think, i shouldn't get tired of my children; but it's not the kids; it's being in our 2 bedroom apartment all day and night with the kids that's working my nerves ....hopefully we'll get back out next week...

but thanks to everybody for posting....i'll keep your words in mind next time i feel like i have to be the adult plaything....
that's part of it for us, too. ever since fall came around, we've all been sick non stop. well, i've been sick more than anybody else (and worse than everybody else) and that definitely factors into it.

L married to J 8 years. Parents to 6 y.o. dd and 3 y.o. ds :nana
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Old 11-20-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by akwifeandmomma View Post
I offer suggestions and choices, but I don't entertain them. I am involved in their play intermittently, but I don't spend a whole lot of time playing. And I nip the "I'm boooored!"'s in the bud by offering them chores to do when they say it. Hehe.

"Oh, you're bored!? GREAT! Here's the spray bottle (vinegar and water) and a rag... can you wash the windows? And here's the handvac, can you sweep the dining room for me?" I either wind up with streaky windows and half clean floors, or they find something else to entertain themselves with. :P
Seriously I do this with my two girls. They are 1 and 2 and they LOVE helping mommy clean. I bought two little mops for them to "help" mop the floors and I have them dust and they even take turns vacuuming. Yeah it does take 4x longer to clean than if I just did it, but the point is interacting with them plus I get cleaning done. They also "play" grocery store" with a special door in our pantry I have with canned goods safe stuff that will not break. They do get bored sometimes I can tell, and that can be frustrating, but I don't spend my entire day being their entertainment. Besides, I am kinda boring...
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:50 AM
 
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No way. I would go nuts if our lives were like that. I get them started with activities, help them think of fun things to do, etc., and then I leave them to do it. It helps that the two that are home with me most of the time are very close in age (20 months apart) and play well together. I almost think they see me as interference if I try to join in their games! They do like to help me clean, cook, and such, so I try to involve them in those activities as much as possible. But honestly, I spend a lot of the day reading or watching TV while they play all around the house...
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Old 11-22-2008, 07:34 AM
 
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Best book I read, for parenting ideas, was Continuum Concept. It's not a book "for" learning to be a parent at all...it's a book made from a research paper, but seriously it's great.

I don't like playing, haven't since I was a little kid, so I really don't do that. And somehow DS has learned how to do his own thing.


If you have been interacting on that level all day, I don't know how you'll change it over, but I wish you luck!
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Old 11-22-2008, 03:59 PM
 
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Continuum Concept- I had forgotten about that one. The theory was that tribal people did not entertain children, but just included them in their daily activities , thus the children were nearby and learned the skills they needed to function as an adult in that society.
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Old 11-23-2008, 10:58 AM
 
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Yes, i definitely felt like that, and felt guilty all the time, until I learned about the continuum concept. Now DS joins in with what i do - e.g. if im cleaning, he waves a feather duster around (he loves the feather duster) or enjoys being on my back while i do everyday tasks. We balance this with play, but I realised that I'm not primarily there to be his playmate, but to be his parent and show him how the world works. I give him lots of contact with other little ones and different environments so he isn't solely reliant on me.
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Old 11-29-2008, 03:57 AM
 
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I have debated about this a lot-- is it something I am doing, or is it just the way my children are built? Probably both.

I remember babysitting for a 5 yo when I was on my summer break in college. This little girl want to play with me ALL DAY. Even when other children would come over and invite her to play, she'd say no, and just want to be with me.

I swore I'd raise my child differently.

HAHAHAHAHA!!! My own children are just like that, except thankfully, they LOVE to play with other children, inc. each other. (Though lately, my oldest and her BFF have been wanting my friend and me to listen to all of their playing/performances.) Despite me trying to live out the ideas from the Continuum Concept, my children have seen me as a social director (which means they spend a lot of time just sitting and talking to me as I do work, since I refuse to make that my full-time position). I'd talk to my friends about their DC and my jaw would drop when they'd tell me that their children would play on their own-- sometimes for even HOURS at a time.

All I can say is that it does eventually pass, or at least decreases. My oldest learned to read when she was 4-- she went from not reading to reading everything (silently). I remember being shocked that, for the first time in 4 years, she didn't want my attention, wasn't talking . . .she just sat on the floor and read, read, read. It was like a miracle. I'm hoping my middle child will follow in her footsteps and read soon, too. Is that wrong?

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Old 11-29-2008, 09:28 AM
 
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interesting, that some children seem to just need that. I'm beginning to wonder, myself - had a chat with another mom y.day and she said she plays with her little one (10 months old) most of the time bc she feels that is developmentally appropriate and that she wants her to have the best day possible. And i could see what she meant - you want them to have fun, to enjoy their lives as children and perhaps have good memories of playing with you,etc. Then I started questioning (as i often do when confronted with a different view - which is good i guess!) so i feel a bit confused about this now...am i providing the 'best day possible' for DS when I'm mostly doing my own thing, just responding to him as and when he needs it, and including him wherever possible? Is it even my JOB to make him have the best day possible? hhhm....

When i was a child I was always good at playing alone, I actually preferred it. I think it is a bit of a temperament thing. I dont remembr feeling lonely, i dont remember mom playing with me (altho she might have) and yet when my sister came along, i was happy to play with her too.

i think the pressure is often on us to be 'creative directors' when there aren't other kids around. Which is why its so great when we visit family and DS can play with his older cousins.
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Old 11-29-2008, 11:20 AM
 
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DS and DD are just starting to play together. They are at almost the same level developmentally (except for motor skills, but DD is catching up quick!) so they get on great. The majority of the time that we are not actively doing stuff (running errands, eating dinner, bath, etc) they are left sort of on their own, and I make quick forays into their living room, to read a book here, or play with blocks, or whatever. Right now DS is practicing signing to the TV (we have to return it to the library on Monday so he's getting in a lot of Signing Time this weekend) and DD is practicing cruising on the couch.
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Old 11-29-2008, 06:42 PM
 
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This is something I have struggled a lot with. I spend a lot of time playing with my kids and doing things with them. My oldest is very clingy to me and doesn't want to do anything if I am not doing it with her. I try to encourage my girls to play together since they are now 2 and 4 but it is really hard to get them to play by themselves. I watch them from the time they get up until they go to bed and I feel like I never have a moment to myself. Right now I am sitting in the bathroom on my laptop while they are in the bath lol. That is pretty much the only free time I get!

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Old 11-29-2008, 06:46 PM
 
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i was a gifted kid put in gifted progams and who now happily has a wonderful life living well off my imagination.

i owe it ALL to the fact that my mom was too busy to entertain me.
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Old 11-29-2008, 06:58 PM
 
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Old 11-29-2008, 08:00 PM
 
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I forgot to say-- when I debated about this, it was with DH, He thought it WAS our job to entertain DD (when we had one child) all day. He thought we should always be playing/interacting with her (but I did not, and I was the SAHP). I would tell him it simply was not natural. He thought I was being selfish or ?? when I told him I wouldn't do it-- he'd say, "Well, I actually LIKE spending time with her." To me, that missed the point because:
(1) he was not with her 24/7 the way I was, so I don't think one could really compare our situations
and
(2) I don't think it's healthy for a child to be constantly interacting with anyone-- I'm a firm believer that some alone time is good for us all (in varying degrees)

But again, I do think a big part of this is personality. My DD is very extroverted, so she craves that contact, and it's benefited her in many ways. A child who is more introverted would handle things differently, and would reap benefits of that as well.

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Old 11-29-2008, 08:05 PM
 
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Nope, I don't interact with them constantly all day. Not my job.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:22 PM
 
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i was a gifted kid put in gifted progams and who now happily has a wonderful life living well off my imagination.

i owe it ALL to the fact that my mom was too busy to entertain me.
I remember reading a quote by some famous person, to the effect that the best way to produce a genius was to make sure a child had lots of time alone, especially without other kids.

Now, I would never suggest that kids should be deliberatly deprived of company, but there is something to the idea that people need space to develope their own thoughts and ideas, adults as well as kids. Space away from other people, tv, the internet, and so on.

Our tv got hit by lightning at one point and my daughter got used to it and started playing really well. We have another one now, which I can't quite give up - I can't bear to miss Dr Who: - but I know it would be better for us.

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Old 12-02-2008, 04:30 PM
 
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We go through phases of being good at entertaining themselves, and not. It depends on various factors. Mood, tiredness level, weather, and developmental stage. My three are all very different too. I think personality plays a big part.

But no, I don't entertain them all day - and I homeschool so have all three of them with me most of the time. I do set up some projects, aside from homeschool stuff, and if I find they are at a loose end, may suggest something - playdough, paints, etc. But they are pretty self-sufficient.

Do you have stuff set up for them to play or do open ended projects? My kids have free access to all the art materials, and will go and make their own projects very happily. I have to supervise more with the youngest, but I"m prepared to accept a few spills in order to have them learn to work independently.

HTH
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