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Old 01-18-2013, 04:46 PM   #1
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SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

How much do you actually *do* with your kids every day? Like playing games, make-believe/dress-up, playing with toys, reading, art projects/crafts, etc? I've been a stay-at-home mom for 6 years, but lately I am just sooo bored and overwhelmed by being home with my kids. They don't involve me as much as they used to in their play so I mostly just have to sit around while they play, but if I don't sit with them they fight nonstop (they do anyway, but at least if I'm near them I can referee before it escalates out of control...). I get bored and try to leave to clean up or read a book or something but then all hell breaks loose! When they were younger, it was busier and more fun. We played and giggled together, changed diapers, napped a lot, etc. Now their playtime is so much more elaborate/complicated and they don't usually involve me. It is just so boring for me! I don't know what is normal - should I be spending all day playing with them and reading to them? Or involving them in something I'm doing? Basically I wonder, what does your day look like if you are a stay-at-home parent?

(P.S. I know we could stand to get out more. We don't go out and do much because of my son's emotional/behavioral issues. It is too exhausting for me.)

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Old 01-18-2013, 04:55 PM   #2
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Re: SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

The child I spent the most time playing with is now the child who cannot self entertain. So though I think I need to play more with our youngest I also think learning to self entertain is a useful skill to learn. I also typically try to let the kids work through their own issues as long as no one is getting hurt.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:19 PM   #3
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Re: SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

I send mine OUT to play a LOT (even the 2 year old). I entertain them as babies and infants and when they are ready to go explore I release them. I don't remember my parents playing with us often (I was #2 of 6 in our household) but we had a BLAST growing up. We were always outside or in the basement building forts and crashing cars and stuff.

I let mine figure disagreements out between themselves for the most part. It's a valuable life skill to be able to compromise and think creatively when you don't agree. If there aren't [real] tears I don't go in -- unless I'm just o.v.e.r. the fighting for the day.

I think you are doing just fine. Find a hobby that you can do with interruptions and give take some time to create a space that they can learn to really enjoy! Way to go mama on recognizing that you need some time as well.

ETA: Oh, we do crafts often but not very complicated ones (since they really can't sit still very long) and then they are back to playing. We also read together and color sometimes or play card games. Most everything else is free play where they get to make up the rules/boundaries/time limits...
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:05 PM   #4
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I don't think my answer is really what you're looking for some DS is still a baby.

We're probably 50/50 or slightly more me playing with him and him playing on his own.

Everyday I read aloud to him, we listen to music, we practice signing and speaking, possibly listen to an audiobook, about half the time he doesn't nap when I want him to and he "helps" me pray my rosary. Those in addition or while we're playing on the floor/bed.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:39 PM   #5
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Re: SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

So how exactly do you teach your kids how to work it out? Mine are 6 and 3 and no matter how often I talk them through conflict-resolution, they just won't do it. They scream at each other, yell, DD hits with toys or pinches... So I separate them but DD just won't stay put in her room. They can be playing together just fine so I decide to go try to get a load of dishes done, and then literally the second I get to the kitchen, I hear yelling (usually DS), then screaming (DD), then crying (DS because DD hurt him). By the time I get back to them, they are both crying and screaming. We work it out or I separate them and it repeats, ad nauseum, all day long. My 6 year old is super intense and emotionally explosive, and now my 3 year old is picking up on his behaviors. I'm going crazy! I am either bored to tears and unproductive, or completely stressed out from breaking up fights (or both).

Unfortunately right now the weather's not great for playing outside. In the summer my kids play outside quite a bit, and can generally play okay with each other outside (and if they fight they are just out the screen door from the kitchen so I can watch and intervene if needed). With the rain and freezing fog and other Oregon winter stuff, we are inside a lot, and they mostly play in the toyroom or other part of the house, whereas I usually have things to do in the kitchen/laundry area.

I just don't know if maybe my expectations are off, and maybe I should be just spending my entire days doing things with them or just being in the room with them while they play. With either kid, when they are on their own without the other, they play fine by themselves and can entertain themselves. But the second they are together they are at each other's throats.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:59 PM   #6
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Re: SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

Depends on the day. Some days we do a ton together and some days they mostly entertain themselves.

Most days we play for 15-20 minutes together(after I take dd1 to school) and then I exercise, shower and do some cleaning. They usually are playing near me while I clean but they are content. As long as they've let me get a little done, we'll then do something together when I'm done. If they interupt me too much, it takes too long to get to get it done and it's lunch time and rest time. So they've learned to let me get my stuff done. (ds is 3 so no one is super young anymore so this is easier now)
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:43 PM   #7
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Could you spend a little one on one time with each of them? Have a box of "special" toys or a tv show for the one who isn't getting mama time at the moment. With your ds you could read, do worksheets together, a game or a craft. Something to give him more mental stimulation than what he's getting from your dd. Then spend some time with her doing things she enjoys.

You could also separate them for a small period of time during the day. My ds and dd are similar ages as yours and a little time away from each other really helps them.

You could also all do things together, like baking, simple science experiments, crafts or story time. My ds and dd are best friends but at the same time can be worst enemies. Breaking up their play time helps them to have more fun and stimulate their imaginations

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Old 01-18-2013, 07:55 PM   #8
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Re: SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

My boys are 7 and 11 and I homeschool so I spend a good bit of time doing that each day. When we aren't doing school stuff they are on their own. I need time to myself too. We do crafts and play games but they need down time and so do I. I tell them to go out and play or go to the playroom and find something to do. They have each other and plenty of toys. We have 4 dogs they can play with. As far as teaching them to work it out I have told them that they are old enough to settle their own differences. If I have to sort things out then they are going to wind up separated and doing something boring like chores or sitting alone in their room. They prefer to sort things out on their own unless things get really bad. It leads to a lot less tattling for silly little things like "he looked at me" or "he touched the toys I wanted to play with" and a lot more working together.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:58 PM   #9
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Re: SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

I try to give them 15 min. a day of quality one on one interaction. Try, not always successful. Those activities include impromptu dance party, helping me make food, reading a few books etc. But otherwise they free play. I try not to get involved unless they need help or direction like doing an art project, painting etc. I sit directly next to my DD when coloring and doing play-doh because she is prone to stick things in her mouth.

I go about my day and incorporate them into it. If I need to wash the dishes, fold laundry etc. then I do and they tag along and/or help. My 6 year old is able to fold and put clothes away, dust, put away dishes. They fight a lot. Either they are best friends or bitter enemies. I let them handle it. Hitting or hurting each other is not acceptable and I get involved but if it's over a toy or someone said someone else was not the boss of them, I'm sorry I just don't have the energy to manage that.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:18 PM   #10
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Re: SAHPs: How much do you play with your kids?

Sometimes, when my oldest two are at each others throats, I put coats, hats, and gloves on them and send them out to our fenced backyard and lock the door behind them. I can see them from the kitchen, and do dishes in the quiet for a few minutes. As far as I'm concerned, they need to learn to work it out. DD usually deserves what DS dishes out her way, so when they are outside, I refuse to listen to tattling.

DS is special, so I have to referee some. He hits and scratches. But if they can't play nice, they both go to their rooms.

Other things we do...put out a dish of water and paint brushes, and paint construction paper. It dries, and then you can paint it again. All the fun of painting with minimal mess. We do this a lot while I make lunch.

In the afternoons, while DD2 takes her nap, we try to do a little "school" so each kid comes by him/herself to the kitchen table to do some workbook/coloring/phonics activity. I love the Explode the Code primer books for the preschool age. The others have to play quietly and are not allowed to interrupt.

In the mornings, they play with me in the room while I do wash, clean up, do the dishes, etc. Often, the kids like to help. When I'm home from work, we don't usually get up til about 8, and have breakfast about 9. I clean up and get stuff done til about 11 while they play, then we start making lunch. After lunch, we go outside and ride bikes. Then DD2 naps and DS and I do things. DD1 gets home from school around 4, and on T and F, she has to go to karate, on W we have family counseling for DS, and on Th, DD has violin. The only night DD is home after school is Monday. Saturday DS has soccer and DD has violin group, and Sunday we have church and Girl Scouts, and DS has swimming in the evening, so we are constantly on the go when she is home.
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