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#1 of 17 Old 04-24-2014, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, I feel like I've been really distant with my 4 year old lately. She is in a VERY imaginative play phase, and I am...just not into playing. Last year this was okay because my DD didn't really play well and preferred to hang with me. Now she really wants my attention, but in the context of her pretend play, which I just can't do. TBH, I'm pregnant and stressed lately, and I'm not a "kid" person, so I just find myself backing away. I miss my DD, though. I want to spend time with her, but I don't feel like I have a ton of mental/emotional energy to give. I can manage reading and board games pretty well. Any other ideas for bonding that doesn't involve play or a ton of chit chat?
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#2 of 17 Old 04-24-2014, 06:21 PM
 
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What about crafts? My dd is about the same age. We do lots of things for her hair, rainbow loom bracelets etc. And she loves cooking and baking. She helps me chop and sometimes mixed ingredients into her own special creation. Tonight she wanted to delay bedtime and go downstairs to mix apple, corn, honey and black pepper to see what it tasted like. I managed to distract her though and get her to bed.
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#3 of 17 Old 04-25-2014, 11:13 AM
 
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Dancing to some fun music.  Being pregnant, you might not be too energetic, but a little wiggle goes a long way.  Old time rock'n'roll, jigs, even some dance-worthy classical music like that from the Nutcracker.  I always liked some energetic music to get me through making dinner.  Some nights it was old disco, sometimes music from my high school days, Grateful Dead, whatever I was in the mood for.  My girls liked dancing with long scarves to wave around.

 

Music, if you play it.

 

Looking through old photo albums when she was a baby.

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#4 of 17 Old 04-25-2014, 01:37 PM
 
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My dd is crazy into the imaginative play too, and by the end of the day, sometimes I feel mentally exhausted by it. I just can't pretend to be a baby or a puppy anymore, or be the ballet teacher to her imaginary friends. No juice left. At those times, aside from the things you've already mentioned, I find we do well with puzzles, drawing/coloring/watercolor painting, cutting and pasting, playdoh, blocks or other manipulative toys (tinker toys, imaginets, legos, magnatiles). Nothing too directed or that has to be a certain way -- just open-ended play that we can do side by side without too much talk or imagination. My block buildings and playdoh balls are a lot more boring than hers, but if I'm there with her, it's ok by her.

We also dig in the garden, look at the plants to see what's growing/blooming, do bubbles. If she wants something more active, we will play a beanbag toss game (I can sit on the couch to throw!) or some other form of catch. She likes baths, and will often play in there doing her own thing for the most part while I just sit next to the tub and chill. If she starts wanting me to play an imaginary game and I'm too tired, I bust out the shaving cream or the bubbles.

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#5 of 17 Old 04-25-2014, 09:47 PM
 
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there are two aspects to pretend play mommy involvement. 

 

1. she wants you actually in the game playing along with her. did this with my dd very rarely.

 

2. she has finished playing. she needs a spectator to act out her story or perform a  play or whatever. i could totally do this. it was a great bonding time, and very joyous for me too. but it does involve some chit chat. however it was always fascinating to watch what my dd 'took' from the event. 

 

i think it was important to sorta tell dd the truth and say i dont want to play. but say it gently.

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#6 of 17 Old 04-27-2014, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry for the delayed response, but thank you all for the responses and ideas.  There are definitely things here that I haven't really tried.  I've just been feeling so sad lately, like I'm missing my little girl so much while at the same time having very little tolerance for her.  I know it must sound awful when I say I need stuff to share with her that requires as little mental and physical energy as possible, but...that's just where we're at right now.  We have that tricky introvert(me)/extrovert dynamic between us that has always made things challenging, too.  And the more I have on my mind, the more I want to withdraw into myself. 

 

Sweetsilver, I think the musical instrument idea is great.  I've been really wanting to rekindle my musical abilities for my own sake, and my DD has really enjoyed the times I've pulled out the guitar to play the only song I can still manage to play. 

 

Springshowers, I wish the craft thing worked for us.  She loves crafts, but I am just SOOOOOO non-crafty.  If we leave things open-ended, she does art as imaginative play with no mind to the product.  And I LOVE that about her.  But then I'm stuck watching Mr. Marker on the Tilt-a-Whirl and whatnot, and that's exactly what I'm trying to catch a break from.  As for more directed craft things, she loves them and they actually work really well.  I'm just really lousy at coming up with them, planning them, etc.  I find that a lot of the ones I find online turn out too difficult for her to really do mostly by herself, which is frustrating for both of us.  But if anyone has any links you like for simple crafting activities - I'd love to check them out.

 

Actually I've been thinking over the past few days that we might do well with directed learning activities, even though I've been kind of avoiding that kind of thing on principle.  I'm very teacher-y and she LOVES learning academic type stuff.  Teaching is almost like scripted conversation to me, very different that the, "Do you like my magic wand, Mommy?" kind of conversation we have all day.  She adores her preschool workbook and I really like working on it with her.  But I get all stuck up in an ideological battle over whether or not I should just find some structured preschool curriculum and do a little lesson with her every day. 

 

Any more ideas on this, keep 'em coming!  I learn so much from you all. 

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#7 of 17 Old 04-27-2014, 04:49 PM
 
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My heart goes out to you, I can totally understand what you are saying. I am one of those non crafty moms too! I used to always suggest taking walks when I wanted to connect, because then you can walk and talk about things you see on the trail or roadway and chat without having a big talk about anything. My kids all valued these walks and it got us out of the house as well, where it could feel kind of claustrophobic around the play thing. I used to comfort myself by remembering that my mom never got down and played dress up with me (or anything!). She was just mom, doing her chores and whatever. She expected us to play. This was a different time, but I loved her to pieces, even though she was not playing with us!

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#8 of 17 Old 04-28-2014, 05:44 AM
 
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oooh if you are a teacher-y mom then SCIENCE is it. forget ps curriculum. look at science around you and do experiments with her. dd loved these. of course it meant i sometimes had to deal with more messes.... simple things like flour and water, as opposed to salt and water. how oil and water dont mix. cook wiht her and let her help with measurements and mixing. let her cut with whatever you are comfortable using. 

 

and like lauren we went out a lot too. sometimes for a walk, sometimes for a treat to a coffee or bagel place. we went to the touristy part of town. 

 

dd is very into crowds so i'd look for free crowded events on my city calendar. 

 

at 4 in her mother's day card dd 'wrote' her favourite thing that i do is let her pick dandelions and blow on them. 

 

and gosh no. i am not crafty either. that's why we went to any public event as they always had a childrens craft table so i could just be the spectator. 

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#9 of 17 Old 04-28-2014, 09:36 AM
 
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For science project ideas: My local public library puts out monthly science calendars with one project idea per weekday:

http://www.carnegielibrary.org/kids/bigkids/homework/sciencecalendars/

I'm sure most of the kindergarten ones would be suitable.  My son's school has the kids choose a monthly science project from the calendar for their grade for that month, and he's had fun with a lot of them.

 

Do you and your daughter like building toys?  My son and his dad enjoy doing Legos together, and when I (rarely) get involved I have a lot of fun with them too.  We each build our own thing, but we're together.


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#10 of 17 Old 04-29-2014, 03:45 PM
 
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Has anyone mentioned cooking or doing chores together?  My 3 year old LOVES to cook with me (and is a mean egg-cracker).  She is also super sweet with chores so long as I'm willing to tailor them to her abilities and make it fun. She has just taken to gardening. 

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#11 of 17 Old 04-29-2014, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone mentioned cooking or doing chores together?  My 3 year old LOVES to cook with me (and is a mean egg-cracker).  She is also super sweet with chores so long as I'm willing to tailor them to her abilities and make it fun. She has just taken to gardening. 

 

I do try to do both of these things with her on a regular basis, but on my end I don't really see them as bonding activities because I don't particularly enjoy it.  My DD's a major chit-chatter, and somehow both of these activities, particularly chores, leads to torrents of talk - which makes me want to hide in a hole.  Hoping, again, that I don't sound like a horribly intolerant parent.  It's more that I feel myself being compromised right now and don't want my DD to suffer as a result.  Also kind of looking ahead to the fall when baby's born and I KNOW I'll be really compromised by ex****tion - it will be nice to have a regimen of things I can do with DD to make her feel loved and connected to me even when I have very little energy. 

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#12 of 17 Old 04-29-2014, 05:21 PM
 
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Oh, don't worry about sounding like a horrible parent!  I have a feeling that people who talk about feeling like that never even come close!  How about snuggling?  When my 3 year old and I were in a rut we played "hide" and would pretend to be scared under the covers.  

 

Also, I had a second...there're lots of hormones there, mama.  My guess is that there is a lot of worry about what two kids will look/feel like. I had that too.  Good news (at least for me) was that my ability to give and open my heart just doubled. 


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#13 of 17 Old 05-01-2014, 05:08 PM
 
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I hear what you're saying about the introvert vs. extrovert thing, too. My first was an introvert, like me, and it was very easy to spend time with her in a way that satisfied both of us. But with my second, who has very high social needs and thrives on near-constant interaction? It really can be exhausting.

 

If you're into teaching and are open to more directed learning opportunities, I've found lots of great at-home ideas both online and in books. A lot of them are Montessori-based, but others are not. I find that if I create an activity (one that can be done again and again, of course) with lovely, ordered materials and make a special place for her to do it, like on a mat that only comes out for those kinds of activities, she is very excited to sit and do it, and will do it with me or alone for a long period of time. Some recent activities I created for my 4 year old are a spelling activity (using scrabble tiles and picture cards I made on the computer) and a color gradient layout activity using paint chips from the hardware store.

 

Here are some of the books we have that I find useful in coming up with activities:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Me-Myself-Pat-Thomas-ebook/dp/B00AY74BP4

http://www.amazon.com/Montessori-Inspired-Activities-Pre-Schoolers-projects-ebook/dp/B00DSKDYES

http://www.amazon.com/Preschoolers-Busy-Book-Creative-Activities-ebook/dp/B003N9BELE

 

And some websites from which I've found inspiration:

ideasforpreschoolers.com/

http://countingcoconuts.blogspot.com/

 

I have to go, but I can list a few more websites later. Or google stuff like "Montessori at home" or "homeschool preschool," and you'll find lots of fantastic ideas.

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#14 of 17 Old 05-01-2014, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hear what you're saying about the introvert vs. extrovert thing, too. My first was an introvert, like me, and it was very easy to spend time with her in a way that satisfied both of us. But with my second, who has very high social needs and thrives on near-constant interaction? It really can be exhausting.

 

If you're into teaching and are open to more directed learning opportunities, I've found lots of great at-home ideas both online and in books. A lot of them are Montessori-based, but others are not. I find that if I create an activity (one that can be done again and again, of course) with lovely, ordered materials and make a special place for her to do it, like on a mat that only comes out for those kinds of activities, she is very excited to sit and do it, and will do it with me or alone for a long period of time. Some recent activities I created for my 4 year old are a spelling activity (using scrabble tiles and picture cards I made on the computer) and a color gradient layout activity using paint chips from the hardware store.

 

Here are some of the books we have that I find useful in coming up with activities:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Me-Myself-Pat-Thomas-ebook/dp/B00AY74BP4

http://www.amazon.com/Montessori-Inspired-Activities-Pre-Schoolers-projects-ebook/dp/B00DSKDYES

http://www.amazon.com/Preschoolers-Busy-Book-Creative-Activities-ebook/dp/B003N9BELE

 

And some websites from which I've found inspiration:

ideasforpreschoolers.com/

http://countingcoconuts.blogspot.com/

 

I have to go, but I can list a few more websites later. Or google stuff like "Montessori at home" or "homeschool preschool," and you'll find lots of fantastic ideas.

 

Thank you!  I'd love to hear some more recommendations for websites.  I tend to get lost out there on the web without some guidance.  Hopefully I'll be able to find some of those books at the library, too.  I sway a bit Waldorf with my home planning and whatnot, but I'm game for adding in some other learning activities.  I think my DD will really love that type of time with me. 

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#15 of 17 Old 05-02-2014, 01:15 PM
 
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So many good ideas!  Especially the Counting Coconuts blog.  I'm going to go look for sensory tub/table supplies as soon as I get home.

Being the crafty type, I already have jars of stuff I've collected over the years, but I think my 3.5 year old son is still a little too young to use some of them, since he still likes to put things in his mouth and much of it is very small items, like seashells.  But I can't wait to set up my studio with an area just for the kids, full of stuff for them to explore and experiment with.  Ooooh, I'm inspired!

 

Also found this link while exploring Counting Coconuts.  Lots of good ideas for preschoolers.

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#16 of 17 Old 05-02-2014, 02:39 PM
 
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Here are a few more links:

 

http://www.productiveparenting.com/default.aspx The activity search here is pretty amazing - search by age, type of activity, etc.

http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/

http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/50056/fun-games   Games to make at home

http://tinkerlab.com/art-games/  These story and art dice have been lots of fun at our house, but her whole website is really great.

http://livingmontessorinow.com/category/activity-of-the-week/  This one is specifically Montessori, but what I like about it is that so much of it is teaching kids about practical life, as well as using manipulatives for teaching critical thinking, math and communication. With its small, self-contained projects and works, it lends itself really well to home use & inspiration.

http://www.montessorimom.com/  Another Montessori link, but with lots of great learning activities.

 

And because we skew a bit Waldorfy, too - this link is full of fantastic activities!

 

http://www.alinasadventuresinhomemaking.com/2011/12/24-waldorf-activities-to-try.html

 

I think there are also lots of very knowledgeable Waldorf-leaning moms in the homeschooling area of Mothering, and I'm sure they'd have some great resources, too.

 

I know I have a few more books lying about here - if I come across any, I'll post again. I love going through this stuff again -- I've been feeling rather uninspired, so thank you!

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#17 of 17 Old 05-02-2014, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much!  Very excited to dive into these.  I tried some activities I found in a free Waldorf preschool curriculum online today during the part of the afternoon when I usually feel the most aimless and tired.  It seemed like it really helped me to have a solid plan for getting through those tough few hours - even though the activities didn't go all that well :)  So I think this type of thing is really going to help me be more present. 

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