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Playing with your child(ren)
Tagged: Early Years, play
- This topic has 18 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 11 years, 4 months ago by chocodog.
How much do you all play with your children? As in, you play cars or trains or pretend to be piglet or do crafts or build/play in living room forts or whatever it is your child is wanting to do… I am thinking I may be better to set some sort of boundaries around these activities because my DS3 is always wanting me to play with him but I don’t at all enjoy it. I feel bad for saying that but I’m just not the playing type. (I’m an accountant in “my past life” if that says anything. Haha.) I may be a better playmate if I know the play has an end point. Right now I feel guilty when I can’t or won’t play with him. How do you all handle this?
My ds (4yo) was the same way when he was 3 and still is. I started to put a time limit on the play. I would tell him that I could play for 10 minutes and then mommy had to get to her work. He does not always like it but most times he is fine. When it is quiet time (2yo is napping and my 4yo does not anymore) and he wants to play but balks at the 10 minutes I will remind him that mommy needs her quiet time also. My ds is not big on crafty things. Sometimes he will color or play with playdough but he is fine by himself in those activities.
BTW…I was also an accountant in my past life
I never played with my daughters, even when my oldest was the only child. I would set her up a basket of toys nearby me when she was a baby and go do my housewor and talk with her as I worked. My girls were always pretty content to play alone (or with each other when they got old enough. I was an only child so know what it is like to play alone. I actually thrived on it. I did play with friends in our neighborhood but did enjoy my time alone.
As an adult, I don’t like to play either. lol My girls will ask me every once in a while to be the Dr and I will comply sometimes. Sometimes I say I can’t right now, I need to do this.
Maybe arrange playdates every once in awhile could help? Maybe say, since you want to play legos, why don’t you play at the table while I cook dinner, then after dinner we can read a book/play a game/watch a video together? Those ARE the things I DO enjoy doing with my girls! Toys, not so much.
Well, I’ve got a bit of a different perspective than the posters so far. Playing with your child doing an activity they enjoy is one very real way to fill their love tank. Just like my husband will help me with a project or I will play a game he likes, it’s all setting aside our own selfish interests and investing in another person.
Now, with that said, there are some things I’ve learned over the last few years.
1. The fewer children you have the more you’re called on to be playmate and friend extraordinaire, in addition to mommy, cook, and all the other jobs we’ve got.
2. The more children you have the more people each child has filling their love tank with this ‘play with you the way you want’ investing, so they usually seek out mommy less for this. I’ve got 6 children until the baby arrives in January and they all play with each other most of the time. More often I am the one asking to join in on their play, or inviting a single child to pick an activity for us to do together for a little while.
3. Relationships change. My 3-7 year olds seek me out less as the magic playmate to fill their tank. However my older child (age 10)is beginning to seek me out more, for more ‘big kid’ activities that her younger siblings aren’t quite up for.
4. Another way to really fill up this craving for mommy’s focus is to regularly include your child in your everyday activities, especially chores and cooking. When you’re the one inviting you get to set a bit more of the activity plans, you’re doing something you already needed to, like laundry, and your child feels special because you asked for them to join you. The more you do this the fuller that tank stays and they won’t need as much mommy playtime on their own terms (their activity pick).
Love it. Treasure it. Seek to enjoy it.MistyParticipant
Ok maybe it’s a math mom thing. I was also an accountant and I am not a player. As a wife, mom, teacher, cook, etc. I have so many things to do.
So for one thing I try to have my children helping me. I have a daily meal helper. I always have someone in helping me with laundry (we have 7 children). We also have Wednesday night 1-on-1 time with ONE child for an hour. Their time, to pick what we do at home, to be alone with mom & dad. This is super special to them. The other children are either instructed to play alone or we might buddy them up. Someone has the little ones.
I think the comment about the more children is a good one also. But with everything that can be good and bad. There are times when everyone is playing so good you don’t know you have any children. Then there are days where by noon you’ve seperated them all and said quiet time today will be another half hour.
I also can tell when one of my children really need there love tank filled! So I’ll have that one help me more, or just try to engage more conversations with them. Now we also have a few who never seem to need anything you know they are happy to be alone, they don’t get in much trouble, they would be “the good child”. I also remember to fill there thank, because though there’s seems to stay full longer, I feel I need to make sure it’s filled with new love. Per Say.
You are not alone. I hate trucks (especially by boy number 5 and we had all 5 boys in a row). I try and play but it’s like what do you want me to do with this thing? Or they just move it around & I think I could be doing xyz, but it’s important they know we’re here for them. We need them to look to us and never try and find something or someone else to fill them with that love.
Part of our issue also is that my DS3.5 is my first and we just had our second child. My DD is not yet 2 months old. So for 3.5 years my DS was an only. We have moved to France to learn French so 2 things have changed in his life. I have somewhere to go without him a few days a week (language school) and another child in the home. And nursing every 2ish hours and trying to fit everything else in there somewhere is an adjustment for me as well as learning to attend to 2 children. (I haven’t yet returned to school since her birth.) I guess the issue of how to adjust to 2 children could be a whole new topic. 🙂
I’m glad I’m not the only one who looks at a toy truck and wonders what I’m supposed to do with it. Haha. That’s why I thought maybe some sort of boundaries would help me to be more “into it” while I was playing.
You’re right Tristan. It is selfish. 🙁 I guess I mainly need to find my imagination and creativity and stop worrying about feeling silly. Of course a lot of times I simply don’t know how to play – what to do, what to say. It’s torture sometimes, probably mainly to my pride and grown-up-ness. 😉
Thanks everybody! I’ll keep trying to figure it out. I appreciate hearing from everyone here!
I have to admit that I feel bad on this one too… I grew up in a board-game playing family, as well as a playing family. When I was younger, I would play games with my neices and nephews. But I ended up an older mother. I feel bad but I’ve lost the patience for most games with my kids. I do do a little but it is SO MUCH harder on me than when I was younger.Wings2flyParticipant
Well, I am an accountant, too, and I agree with Tristan that they do need you.
“I may be a better playmate if I know the play has an end point.”
The end point is to build up relationships with your dc. Sounds like you need to free yourself and use more of the other side of your brain – the artistic side. This could be joining into drawing in your own nature journal, writing, painting, singing, dancing, etc. I’m sure your son would go along with whatever you like to do with him. If you don’t want to play trucks, you could have him join with you in a creative outlet YOU like. My son loves dinosaurs, and it is hard for me to get into playing that with him, so I do sometimes, but mostly try to gear his play towards something we might both enjoy more. They love it when mom dresses up. I have an angel costume and a batman costume I got on clearance a few years ago after halloween. I guess that falls under “acting” and we have fun with it – being in character and all. But I feel guilty that I don’t do it enough because of other things that keep me busy.
I think you are also on to something about adjusting to the new baby. My son was 2.5 when my second baby arrived and I would go out with him somewhere special for about 2 hours (between nursings) about 1 or 2 times per week – just me and him while dh or mother would keep the baby.thepinkballerinaParticipant
I don’t think there is anything to feel guilty over. I try to teach our dd’s that life is more than playing all the time. There is work that needs to be done. I’ve gotten better about is as they’ve gotten older, and do have them do chores and bake with me. Then we can enjoy some time doing things we enjoy like sewing, playing games, taking a walk, caring for a puppy, etc but most of the time the girls play on their own either outside or in the playroom/their bedrooms. They have a huge imagination and initiate their own crafts or even make up their own games. It’s great for children to play together while we listen nearby. I thought I read once either on this form or another that it’s okay to show children that grown ups don’t play with toys. We do enjoy spending time with them but in different ways that are just as enjoyable. I don’t think it’s selfish at all to teach your children to play alone at times but encourage other activities for your together time. Just my .02 worth.
I agree with Tara. I don’t play with my kids much. Mine are 10, 8, and 5 and I think I played with them a bit more when they were little. But, if I don’t feel like playing and I don’t enjoy it, I don’t. Here’s why: Kids are unbelieviable at picking up your emotions (far better then adults) if you are not having fun, they know it. I have found that that feeling of mommy isn’t enjoying playing with me if far more draining to the “love bucket” then is just not playing in the first place. If you don’t want to “play” find something you do want to do: crafts, read a story, science, crunching leaves, play a board game……
Also I have found my husband is far better at playing then I am and I have found I’m much more likely to join in the play when it’s the whole family. We all enjoy tag, water gun fights, noodle fights, lego contests. Maybe see if a few times a week you can all “play”….
just my .02
Edited to add: I’m not an accounted or an older mom. I had my babies in my early 20s and I’m an artist/ dog trainer/ psychologist. So I have no excuse, nor do I feel I need one : )
I have 4 kids – dd10, ds7, dd4, ds almost 2. We are always interacting together – chores, cooking, riding bikes, walking, reading, etc. However, when it comes to imaginative play, they do it mostly on their own. They may ask me to be the patient or the customer at the store and I will happily do so, but I cannot realistically play with them as much as they play. I have other responsibilities to attend to and they do just fine on their own. Sure, it could be selfish on my part if I always refused them to do things on my own like computer time, hobbies, etc., but when there is dinner to cook, laundry to wash, errands to run, the choice is bring them along side or allow them to play on their own. Both work at different times. Oftentimes, if you get them started on something they will take it and run with it while you work on something nearby. Do not feel guilty if you don’t participate in their play. Some parents are more “playful” than others and in the end, it works out fine. Different strokes for different folks. There is no right way to these things, each family has to find what works for them. The principle of setting aside our selfish interests for the sake of investing in others is a good one, but that doesn’t mean that you must be your child’s playmate 24/7.
I should clarify that what I mean by “acting” is drama, which I enjoyed very much in HS, but was not very talented in it apparantly, as I was never cast into much of a part. So I really should do this more with my children because it is something I really enjoy, and they are the best audiance I’ll ever have who actually enjoys me being in various characters. I would not attempt to “act” like you are having fun when you really are not becaue I agree that the children do see past that. The point is to do what YOU like to do and have your children enjoy it with you for their “play” time with you. The reason I feel guilty for not playing enough with them is from my own problem of having my face glued to the computer screen too much. I probably need to turn this thing off for a week for another computer fast. (Totally off topic now.)RobinPParticipant
As I’m typing this my two sons, ages 7 & 8, are sitting beside me “blowing things up” with their toys. I spend lots of time with them, but not in their type of play. They are at the age where they love board games and I join them on many of those. We read lots and lots together, play our violins together, milk cows together, but they are also at the age where their play is rough and I’m nearing 50! Dh joins in on occasion. My 21yos was an only for 13 years and I did play with him more. I wasn’t blessed with girls so never got the chance to play with dolls or have tea parties.
Ah I should clarify too. By “end point” I meant “a time when I can stop”. Haha. And right. I don’t much care to blow things up or play in a sand box. Or fingerpaint either for the sme reason. (I like clean hands.) But I do like to read to him and I do like board and card games. I have started looking at board games we can get. Yippee. I love, love, love to color but sadly he doesn’t. He wants me to “vroom” around the house racing him. Woowee. Haha. 😉 Thank you all for all these thoughts and ideas! I like the idea of directing the play more in a direction where I can genuinely enjoy it. I hate to feign excitement because I know he knows better. My feelings on things are pretty obvious and I can only get into pretend play so far. He’s extremely persistent too so when we get started he doesn’t want to stop. Anyhoo, those are just random thoughts. I appreciate the discussion!
Although it’s fine to play a game or have a tea party, etc with my children, I think the most important thing to remember is they just enjoy my presence in the midst of their play. I LOVE to hear my kids playing happily as I keep an eye and ear open for anything needed. If there’s a moment to spare, I will get on the floor and ask to play too. 🙂
This morning I received a written invitation to their room for a party. Hubby and I enjoyed thoroughly being served tea by three fancy girls. 🙂
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