I have a 4 yo DD and a 2 yo DS. DD wants me to play with her all the time. Her favorite type of play is pretend play and I can understand that she doesn't want to pretend play by herself (and DS is too little to pretend with her at this point). It's starting to kind of drive me crazy and I find myself getting irritable with her. I do want to play with her some, but it's gotten to the point where I can't get anything done in the house. I don't have high standards for housekeeping, either. I'm talking the basics--getting the day's dishes done and toys picked up. I can't even get that minimal amount done. I'm not sure how to handle this. Any thoughts about how to handle this?
Here's what I used to do:
DD, I need to get some stuff done. I'm going to set a timer for 15 minutes. You need to play by yourself for 15 minutes, and when the timer is done I'll give you my complete attention."
Something about the outside source of a timer worked well.
So common for this age it seems. DD is just 5 and she is the same way. Sometimes her pretend play has some very specific rules, sometimes it is basically tole playing - doing the same scene over and over again.
I usually give her the task I am going to complete so we can play. Like "I am going to put the laundry in the dryer and new laundry in the washer, and then we can play." And I try to involve her in chores if I can. I let her wash dishes, pick up her own toys, etc.
It is a tough age for us here. We're trying to find the balance. Some days it works, and other days, not so much.
Adina mama to B 4/06 and E 8/13/12 (on her due date!)
I think for me its less about not wanting to play, but more about the fact that my DD can not entertain herself. And I am unable to entertain her all day.
My DH hates it when I make her play by herself for 15 minutes. He thinks it is mean.
So, when he wlaks in the door I let him take over the playtime. He will play with her until she gets bored.
Then we trade off again.
But, to me its not meeting her need to learn how to play on her own.
My DS is younger, so maybe it won't work the same for you, but I find that he is much less needy for my attention when we have been out of the house for some solid period of time during the day. I think he gets bored with the toys and activities that are available at home after a few hours and needs a change of scenery and/or more stimulation. Getting out of the house every day (and for him, the grocery store is an adventure) also makes it easier for me to be patient with him when he does need my attention, and makes for less work for me to do around the house.
I would also second the pp's suggestion to involve him in whatever you're doing. Your DS is probably old enough that throwing laundry in the washer is not as fun as it is for mine (how high can you throw it?), but maybe old enough to learn about what knobs and switches on the machine do, how much soap to put in, etc. The work gets done more slowly, but more pleasantly.
While I do think it's important for me to play with my kids, I also expect there to be lots of time each day that I'm not specifically playing with anyone. I do the opposite of what others suggested. If I'm invited to play, I'll stop what I'm doing (if at all possible) and say: "yes, let's play! I do have some work to do as well, but how about we play for 10 minutes?" Then I set the timer. Sometimes I can play longer, depending on what it is we're doing! I really need to know though that it's going to end at some point so I can handle my boredom with it when that crops up.
I try to invite my kids to join me in whatever I'm doing. We also spend a decent amount of time doing things next to each other but not necessarily together: crafts with some chatting but also just an individual focus, sometimes my kids will sit at the table doing playdough or coloring and I'll go through the mail, sometimes they'll be playing on the floor while I'm folding laundry. Those times do partially meet their needs for togetherness and we do have the chance to talk during it as well.
Is your daughter not able to play on her own ever, or is this specific to the location or time of day or something? We spend an hour each day in "rest hour" during which each person spends time in a different room. My middle son (5) usually plays trains, gears, or his marble track. My littlest still naps. My eldest (8) goes crazy with polly pockets, littlest pets, or drawing something. When my son was a little younger we had special toys that were only for rest hour: a colorforms board, a few wooden puzzles, a pegboard, some characters, blocks, stuff like that. He'd select 2-3 from the shelf and play with them. I've also had him look at books or listen to books on tape, or said "when the CD is over then rest hour will be done." It might be helpful to start with a shorter time to help your cihld have success with an arrangement like this. And we bookend it with together time: lunch is right before and then we often read a story before going our separate ways, and then right after we usually have snack. Most days it works pretty well, and I get a much needed break from all the stimulation!
For the rest of the day, I try to set it up so that we're either: 1) out of the house doing something, whether it's errands, a playdate, the park, or a field trip, 2) playing together, or 3) inviting them to help with housework. HTH!
Married to DH since 2006. Adoptive mom to DD1 (June 2002), DS (Jan 2006), and bio mom to DD2 (May 2009).
Mine is the same way. I stocked up on awesome activities that will hold her interest and then stagger them with what I want/need to do. I'll do something while she busies herself, then we do something together. Then I'll do something while she busies herself, then we do something together, etc. etc. It might go something like this:
-I read books to DD for 1/2 hour or so
-I do dishes while she eats a snack
-I read to her some more
-she takes a bath while I sweep the floors
-I play a puzzle with DD
-DD has a fancy bead kit for stringing beads while I clean the kitchen
-I play a game with DD
-DD watches a short video while I cook a meal
If I put a little reward of playing with her right after I'm done doing my own thing, she doesn't usually complain. She knows the reward is coming next. Some times I have to bribe her with a treat like yogurt covered raisins or something *hangs head in shame* in order to get time to do something.
Mama to a bright 7 y/o girl and an exuberant 3 y/o boy Loving unschooling, 2x and natural living in Hawaii.
I thought this was a good article about playing with our kids.
This is a great article. TFS. I think this is a lot of my issue with playing with my kids...I have gotten a lot better, but for some reason, I have a hard time enjoying them.
To the OP, I think it's the age. My DD is the same way. I sometimes have to just tell her that I have to get something done, then we'll play. I have also found that including her in whatever I'm doing helps a lot. She loves when I let her clean the windows (I make my own cleaner), sweep with a little hand held sweeper and pan, or unload the plastic dishes from the dishwasher. She loves emulating what I do throughout the day. She's more willing to go do her own thing after things like that.
Erica - Wife to Justin, mama to Anna (9.06), Ben (6.08) and Caden (11.10)