How do you stay engaged with your kids during the day? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 02-01-2011, 09:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That is the question!  I am finding myself just completely wanting to mentally check out.  I am finding it nearly impossible to "play."  I just keep saying to myself "okay, 15 minutes where you don't check email, throw in laundry, call whoever, wipe up this, clean that, whatever" and I can barely do it.  I can barely do five minutes.  Part of it I think is the weather and that DS who is 2.5 has been sick a lot, has some special needs etc, and we've just been "in" a lot in the past few months.  DH also travels for work frequently.  DS doesn't nap.  I love it on the weekends when DH is home and I can cook, clean, do whatever just because it actually feels like a break to me.  I am just feeling so guilty...  DS is bored and I'm dying to be working, doing something mentally stimulating, but I know that I really want to be home with him too. :(

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#2 of 29 Old 02-01-2011, 09:29 PM
 
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No advice!  I am right there with you with my 2.75 year old.

 

As for not checking email or phone use or internet in general...I have to physically hide the computer.  blush.gif

 

It doesn't help I have an 11 month old to entertain also. 


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#3 of 29 Old 02-01-2011, 09:31 PM
 
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I struggle with this when we don't get any socializing during the week.  It's really hard when they're sick tho.  I find that when I get "mama time" at play groups or our friend's house that I get recharged.  My mom also likes to watch them 1x a week for an afternoon which helps me get a lot of chores done for 2 days or so.  This way I'm less distracted w/ starting another load of laundry, etc.  


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#4 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 08:19 AM
 
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Having some sort of rhythm helps us 

 

Like in the morning I know that after breakfast there will be clean up and a craft (today we made lavender play doh) and during craft I can either engage with DD or let her play independently while I clean (although normally I'm with the babe..) We also read outloud a lot and it's one thing I love doing because I am not into playing pretend really...can you "set up" play for your child? Sometimes I'll go over to DD"s wooden doll bed and go Oh! Looks like it's nap time, can you help with that..or something similar. 

 

 

 


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#5 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 09:06 AM
 
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I don't play with my kids much. I love them, and I do enjoy doing things with them but I personally think that it is very valuable for my children to see me run my house and realize that I am a person myself, not that I am their entertainment for the day.

 

Do I sometimes crawl around the floor with them on my back pretending I'm a horse? Absolutely! But then I go mop the kitchen or make bread or read a book or something. My kids were a lot more bored when I tried to entertain them the entire time than they are now. Boredom is just not an issue for us any more. I have the advantage of having several children of similar age but I feel it would work similarly with 1. Of course my baby is always with me and generally that's the case up until about 18 months-2 years but the same principle applies, I go about my day with my baby/children by my side.

 

They are a big part of my life but they are not the only thing, and we were all miserable (my dh included!) when I tried to make the entire day about them. They are welcome to join me in whatever I am doing, I am constantly present, I am there to give direction if they want or need it, to hold and snuggle and nurse and supply snacks. Read books, open boxes, locate lost puzzle pieces, wipe butts, give kisses. I suggest activities. I discuss legos and books and look up the answers to the random questions they have that I never even thought about. But I don't build block towers (very often) or dress up like a dragon (ever) or make my own glitter and glue stick creation.

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#6 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 09:34 AM
 
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I've never understood this notion that we are supposed to spend our days "playing" with our kids. Playing is their job, caring for them and running the house is mine. I involved them in my work - had them "help" me cook, fold laundry, etc. We went to the library and the park and I read to them whenever they wanted. But otherwise when my kids were little they did their thing and I did mine.

Being with small children all day is terribly exhausting. Of course you want to mentally check out. Get your kid accustomed to playing independently and you'll be able to take those mental health breaks you need during the day.
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#7 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 06:45 PM
 
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I'm in this boat too.  My ds is almost 2.5.  It is hard.  He sometimes plays by himself but really most of the time he wants me to play with him and making him play by himself just hasn't worked.  The crafts and projects we do don't take up much time and really he always wants to get back to his imagination games.  The only thing that works for me is the phone or tv for me.  I know that is really unpopular but I just caved and got the tv.  I am so much more present with the food network going on in the background.  I find myself able to play with him better and for longer periods of time.  So yeah, I got the tv so I could be more present.  It sounds weird I know but it really works for me.  Good luck! 


I have boys! My first baby boy was born 10/08 and my second baby boy was born 7/12

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#8 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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*Not at all* what I expected as far as replies which actually feels like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  Part of me feels like DS should (and can) play independently, and that it is good for him, and the other part of me is filled with guilt when I am busy non-stop, especially when DH is traveling.  It is nice to hear others have a tough time with the imaginative play etc.  Mommarriffic--how do you make lavendar playdough?  That sounds fun. 

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#9 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 09:34 PM
 
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My dh travels a lot, too. I occasionally get on the floor and make a block tower but not often. I made a point from the beginning of ds's mobility (he's 15 mo now) to give him a safe place to roam around and explore so that I wouldn't have to entertain him all the time. I do think that it's good for him. He plays and runs around and moves one plastic bottle from one cabinet to another and then back again. Lol. Serious business! I wouldn't feel guilty. Do your thing and let your lo discover life through his independent play. smile.gif

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#10 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 09:57 PM
 
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Same problem here, used to feel guilty about it all the time.  But fact is, I just wasn't such a good playmate to my kids

no matter  how much I (tried) to fake it - it simply was not sustainable.  What works best for us is to do short

but quality time every so often - once it's clear I need to "check out" then I do.  But I do check back in as soon as possible.


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#11 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 11:10 PM
 
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I'm adding my voice to the chorus of I-don't-really-play-much-with-them...I connect with them over breakfast and getting dressed. Then, I tidy, do laundry, make beds, etc. They usually follow me from place to place playing all the while. 

 

I *do* find that getting out in the morning (for us, by 10 or 10:30 so I have time to finish my basic morning routine) helps enormously - to the grocery and the park, for a coffee, for a walk, whatever. We're home for lunch (i.e. by 1) and then generally home for the afternoon so dd can nap. The boys play in the house or in the back yard. A few times a week I will offer watercolors or coloring or playdough but they are honestly super happy making mud pies in the backyard for HOURS whereas they are finished with the playdough after about 5 min...

 

I check email/FB/MDC throughout the day but I try to keep my mind also on what's going on in the house and I make it a point to close the computer when one of the kids wants to talk to me. I find it really helps me to stay connected to the larger world... I also leave talk radio on all day (CBC, here) for my intellectual stimulation.


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#12 of 29 Old 02-03-2011, 08:23 AM
 
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I'm another not-much-playing parent.  I love my kids, I love interacitng with them, but there is No. Way.  I could be eye-ball to eye-ball with them all day every day.  Homeschooling means I already spend a lot of time with them doing direct relating.  Other ways we get together time is in the morning--with cuddles.  We sit down and eat meals together.  We have a bed time routine that involves lots of togetherness. :)  In between, as they have grown, that is about as much of me as they can handle, too.  In the summer they spend hours and hours outside--within hearing distance of me, but playing with each other and not with me.

 

It is hard when you have toddlers.  It just is.  Especially if you're cooped up inside.  What was a lifesaver for me during those years was mandatory "siesta".  Sleeping or not, they all had to spend the length of a CD story on their bed.  It was a struggle only with my first one.  By the time the others came along, it was an established (and beloved) habit, and they fell right in line with that.

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#13 of 29 Old 02-03-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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I'm so glad to see these responses.  I feel so guilty because I *really* don't like playing.  I don't mind certain activities; board games, puzzles, books and I actually enjoy blocks but no, I am not going to play "now my dinosaur says ROAR and then your dinosaur says AHHH" 600 times a day.  I find it mentally draining.  I'm really introverted and need quiet, in my head time to recharge.  I do find DS1 is far more apt to go play by himself if he sees I'm engaged in something (like washing dishes or cooking) as opposed to sitting on the computer, that seems to be a free pass to climb all over me and demand things.  I can't even tell you how happy I am that he and DS2 have started to be able to entertain each other.  We also have quiet time in which DS1 goes in his room with his legos and I nurse DS2 down for a nap (and then hide in the bedroom and watch TV for a little while)


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#14 of 29 Old 02-03-2011, 12:34 PM
 
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interesting responses.. I have a question..do your partners do the same thing with the kids? Not "play" much with them? I just assumed that after a long day at work, not seeing DS at all, that DH would want to sit down and play with DS, but he doesn't really. I have to literally force him to sit down and spend time with DS. I understand why I don't have that urge since DS is with me all day long, but I don't get why DH doesn't want to..just tired I guess? His idea of spending time with DS is watching a movie, or occasionally playing with his toy car, and very rarely actually doing something active with him, like playing outside, or giving a piggy back ride..he's done more "playing" this week with DS since we've been snowed in, he's been able to catch up on sleep, and we're all just getting generally cabin-fevery. I've been cleaning and cooking like a mad woman being cooped up all day inside! Not my forte :) Anyway, I know that was a bit off topic, but just curious if your partners do the same thing even though they're gone all day.


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#15 of 29 Old 02-03-2011, 12:47 PM
 
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My dh is not particularly playful either.  His interactions with the kids are not usually play related.  He loves to talk with them, and teach them, he's out walking with them right now actually, and he has picked up evening devotional time which they love.  But rarely does he sit down and play a *game* with them.  If a toddler brings him a puzzle, he'll do that with them for a few minutes. 

 

I am pretty sure dh never experienced play with his parents, and didn't do much of the type of thing we call playing either.  He entertained himself alone quite a bit as a youngster (capturing wild animals in the bush in Ethiopia, for instance), he spent a lot of time walking to and from school, and studying, and he had a lot of work to do from an early age.  In his culture dedicated play time, especially between kids and adults, is not normative. 

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#16 of 29 Old 02-03-2011, 01:09 PM
 
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My dh is GREAT at playing.  Which makes me feel bad.  LOL

 

He does a lot of very active playing--wrestling and tickling.  Running and jumping, chasing them in the yard.  Digging with them.  Stuff like that.

 

I tend to include my kids in what I'm doing (folding clothes, cooking, cleaning, they craft alongside me), as well as doing kid-centered things (playdoh, reading books, painting).   I do often suggest things for them to do (now go build with your legos), but I wouldn't say I spend a lot of time *playing* with them.  They aren't big into imaginative play at all, though, which I find a huge blessing.  I remember babysitting for kids like htat, and it was utterly exhausting.  Now, you say this, and I'll say that.  Arrgggghhh..  That would make me pull my eyelashes out one by one. 

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#17 of 29 Old 02-03-2011, 01:31 PM
 
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I am not a person who likes to sit on the floor and play but when I do the kids love it! 

 

I know when my oldest was the only kid at the time, it was boring.  I found that I enjoyed the day better when I had a movie going on my laptop as background noise and then I could sit on the floor with him and play.  I didn't know about MDC and 2 other message boards at the time.

 

I do feel bad at the end of the day if I haven't interacted with them through play but I know that through homeschool and being with them at meal times, I have interacted with them and I feel better.  I do love grabbing them up and loving on them and kissing the periodically through the day so they do get my physical touch that way.


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#18 of 29 Old 02-03-2011, 03:37 PM
 
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My DH doesn't play much but he'll come home and watch a show or read with them or let them work out in the yard with him. 


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#19 of 29 Old 02-04-2011, 03:18 AM
 
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Just wanted to say I'm so glad to read all these responses. Here I thought I was the only SAHM/homeschooling parent who doesn't play with their kids every second of the day. I spend time on the floor, we play, we talk. I nurse my babies, and spend time with the big kids. But not all day, not even close.

 

Seems like I'm normal! Yay!


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#20 of 29 Old 02-04-2011, 06:21 AM
 
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I don't really play much with my kids either, especially the kind of pretend play my two girls love (ie. Mommy, you be the owner and we'll be the doggies and you come buy us from the animal shelter!  ARGH!!!!!)  I love to read with them, help them with schoolwork, art projects, and include them in cooking/baking stuff.  Yesterday, DS and I played hockey out in the street for an hour, which was fun.  I definitely enjoy the active play more than pretend (ie. scootering, practicing soccer skills, etc.)  DH loves to play with the kids, especially the kind of rough-housing, tickle-fight, everyone is laughing until someone gets hurt playing!  When he does that, I disappear to another room because all the screeching makes me crazy, but I know kids NEED that kind of play too.  I'm glad DH is there to provide it.


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#21 of 29 Old 02-04-2011, 11:11 AM
 
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I don't play with DS all day. He loves to just hang out on the floor and play with random objects. Me sitting next to him would not enrich that at all. When he needs to nurse or snuggle, he'll crawl over to me and I'll fill those needs for him. But, I do laundry, I am on MDC a lot, I clean up, I craft. Sometimes when he's having a hard time transitioning from snuggle time to play time, I'll sit on the floor with him and get him interested in something before I get up again.

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#22 of 29 Old 02-06-2011, 01:11 PM
 
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I don't really play with DS much. I read to him daily, and try to get him outside before lunch when I can, but mostly I let him amuse himself with his toys and books. And whether through luck or benign neglect, I have a kid who excels at independent play and almost never gets bored.

As far as motivating myself goes, I find that having a solid routine is key. When you do something enough times in a row, it becomes a habit, which keeps you from having to think about it. Make a routine that works for your family and stick with it for a few weeks and soon it will be just another thing you do like brushing your teeth and eating meals.

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#23 of 29 Old 02-06-2011, 02:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

*Not at all* what I expected as far as replies which actually feels like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  Part of me feels like DS should (and can) play independently, and that it is good for him, and the other part of me is filled with guilt when I am busy non-stop, especially when DH is traveling.  It is nice to hear others have a tough time with the imaginative play etc.  Mommarriffic--how do you make lavendar playdough?  That sounds fun. 



It took me a while to adjust once I realized "playing" wasn't my job.  Is there anything else you both enjoy doing?  Reading, cuddling, watching a favorite show, dancing to music, ect?  I go crazy trying to "play" stuff like trains and transformers.  But I like to do OTHER things.  Not for an hour at a time usually, but 15 minutes here and there...sure.  Now that DS is 6, we also spend time doing school work and playing lots of board games.  I'm LOVING that he's into board games now because I can spend more than 10 minutes on the floor with him without wanting to jump off a cliff.  I still make sure he has lots of independent play time during the day, but I've found other ways to "connect" with him.  And that's what it's REALLY about.  Connecting, not just playing.

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#24 of 29 Old 02-07-2011, 01:31 PM
 
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I am reading these replies with great interest. I too am a SAHM of a 2.75 year old and struggle to find a balance in my day that takes care of both of our needs.  Some of the things I am trying with some success are:

 

1. Screen Free Mornings - I no longer turn the computer on when I wake up in the morning. Because it is not on I'm not tempted to just run over and "quickly" check my e-mail, look up a new recipe, write a quick blog entry, peruse posts on MDC, etc.... This just leads to me zoning out and DS getting frustrated and then I get frustrated. Now, when he goes down for nap the computer is powered up and I can focus on the things I really want to do online (I jot down a list each morning as something comes up.) and don't waste time on inconsequential things that leave me feeling like I've wasted my time. Edited to add: This isn't just for me. DS will just ask over and over to "watch" if the computer is on and he just doesn't want to play anything else. If it is off he doesn't even bother asking and will just play happily doing many more healthful activities (IMO). 

 

2. Play Time - This is as described in Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. I am just finishing up the book and am finding that if I give one dedicated hour in the morning and one in the afternoon to Play Time where DS gets to lead us he gets his "cup refilled" and is MUCH more content to play by himself after these times. Then I can concentrate on better quality play with him because I know I will get some (fairly) uninterrupted time to do the things I need to do. 

 

Just some new thoughts. I really do think that dedicated play time with my son where I show genuine enthusiasm for his interests is good for his development and helps me stay connected/in tune with him. I also want him see me doing the daily activities that I need to do and for him to know that he is welcome to join me in them.

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#25 of 29 Old 02-07-2011, 01:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by healthy momma View Post

I am reading these replies with great interest. I too am a SAHM of a 2.75 year old and struggle to find a balance in my day that takes care of both of our needs.  Some of the things I am trying with some success are:

 

1. Screen Free Mornings - I no longer turn the computer on when I wake up in the morning. Because it is not on I'm not tempted to just run over and "quickly" check my e-mail, look up a new recipe, write a quick blog entry, peruse posts on MDC, etc.... This just leads to me zoning out and DS getting frustrated and then I get frustrated. Now, when he goes down for nap the computer is powered up and I can focus on the things I really want to do online (I jot down a list each morning as something comes up.) and don't waste time on inconsequential things that leave me feeling like I've wasted my time. Edited to add: This isn't just for me. DS will just ask over and over to "watch" if the computer is on and he just doesn't want to play anything else. If it is off he doesn't even bother asking and will just play happily doing many more healthful activities (IMO). 

 

2. Play Time - This is as described in Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. I am just finishing up the book and am finding that if I give one dedicated hour in the morning and one in the afternoon to Play Time where DS gets to lead us he gets his "cup refilled" and is MUCH more content to play by himself after these times. Then I can concentrate on better quality play with him because I know I will get some (fairly) uninterrupted time to do the things I need to do. 

 

Just some new thoughts. I really do think that dedicated play time with my son where I show genuine enthusiasm for his interests is good for his development and helps me stay connected/in tune with him. I also want him see me doing the daily activities that I need to do and for him to know that he is welcome to join me in them.

Great thoughts!  I especially like the first one.  I am guilty of checking my mail and other things on the computer before the kids wake up using that as my wake up time since I am not a morning person.  I don't get much time since the kids sense that I am up and seem to wake soon after.  I need to keep the computer off till after naptime starts.

 

I need to re-read Playful Parenting.  It might help me with the stage my twin tornadoes toddlers are at right now!!
 


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#26 of 29 Old 02-07-2011, 07:47 PM
 
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I've been a SAHM for a while now and I want to say first if you are living in a cold climate it sounds like your in a feb. funk.  Get out of the house! Go to some fun indoor places where your son can run around. Trust me you will both feel tons better! 

 

Now, to answer your original question, I do think it's important to spend quality time with my kids daily and keep my house relatively clean. Quality time to me means I don't answer the phone/check email/insert other distraction. I may or may not do small house hold tasks while spending time with them or our time is them helping me do household tasks. LOL  I don't enjoying playing pretend games with my kids so I don't. I do try to find other things I enjoy doing and can do with them. We do things like read stories, do art projects,color, build with blocks, go hiking, play board games, cook, play with playdough, etc. Those types of things I enjoy doing. It is why I'm a SAHM, so I can do all those things with them not daycare/preschool.  In my life that comes first, housekeeping comes second. My house is not gross,  it is generally company ready or can be company ready within 15 minutes, of course my company is all friends and family who love me anyway LOL. My house will never win a Home and Garden award and I'm totally cool with that. I aim for not gross, not perfectly neat. ;).

 

I think it's important to see what's sucking your time and why you feel the way you do.  Is staying home truly what you want? Are you getting enough social interaction? Do you have any mommy friends you can have playdates with? Are you getting a night out when your husband is home? Would working a even part time be an option?  Do you have a routine? Are you spending to much of your day in front of a screen and feeling guilty? Are you to focused on having a perfectly neat house?  What are somethings you would enjoy doing with your child?  Would preschool be a good option? Really look at your situation and try to figure out what would make you happier then wait until spring to decide LOL. .  If being a SAHM isn't what you want its ok! Moms come in all varieties and the best moms are happy moms. :) 

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#27 of 29 Old 02-09-2011, 10:33 PM
 
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OMG, I could've written your first post.  I skimmed the first few responses and breathed a sigh of relief.  I'm going to go back and read the entire rest of the thread for actual HELP--but yeah, you're not alone.

 


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#28 of 29 Old 02-12-2011, 06:16 AM
 
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I'm not a play-with-the-kids-all-day either....and I too struggled with this when I first became a SAHM. I looked at my 2.5 year old DD and had no clue what to do with her.

 

I found the key is find activities we both like to do. My 5 year old loves to bake cookies/bread, so we do that one to two times a week, and my DD2 likes to participate. I found that I don't like playing barbies (which actually are now hidden, but that's another story) but I like playdough, crafts and coloring ( I found some great "grown up" coloring designs - mandalas, geometric things etc). We play board/card  games and I have these brain quest cards DD loves. It's just pictures/questions.

 

It does get better. From 9 months to 18 months is a long stretch of time where a child is usually somewhat clingy, and activities like baking, board games etc are a no go. I used to have a cabinet of things my infant/toddler could play with  (spoons, tupperware, etc) and that would be that child's playstuff while I was in the kitchen.

 

 

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#29 of 29 Old 02-12-2011, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies!  So many good thoughts.

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