To not want to play with my children after work

(86 Posts)
lecce Thu 13-Jun-13 19:47:51

I am really struggling at the moment with being with the dc after work. I am a teacher (f/t) and at this time of year (exam classes have gone) I can usually be home at about 4pm. The rest of the year it is about 5pm most nights. So, I currently have about 2-3 hours with them until bedtime. They are 6 & 4.

The problem is, I feel like this should be the best part of my day. I am lucky to be able to get home pretty early and I should be making the most of it but I am so tired. I get up at 5am to get work done and often (though less so at this time of year) have work to do after they have gone to bed. I just ache and I can't seem to summon any enthusiasm for any activities we could do.

Dh is sahd and when I get in they are usually watching telly, having been home for about 20 minutes. I feel I have to tell them to turn it off after the programme ends, but then I can't really be bothered to lead/suggest anything else. I fee like they should be able to amuse themselves with me taking more of a passive role. They often do, sort of, but it usually seems to descend into tears before too long. Tonight was awful - they got into a stupid row over who could use a chair and, tbh, I handled it badly, without patience and made it worse.

I feel like I should have just left the telly on - at least we wouldn't have all ended up shouting, but, had I done that, I would have felt guilty. On the nights when I am home at 5.30ish, there seems to be little time to do anything other than read with ds1, and that makes me feel guilty. On nights like tonight, I find mysef wishing I had stayed at work a bit later and that makes me feel horribly guilty and sad.

Why is it so hard?

foreverondiet Thu 13-Jun-13 19:51:48

Does your DH look after your 4 year old all day - ie not really enough information to indicate what's reasonable. If he's at home all day alone I suggest you change your schedule so you do your marking at school after school and stop getting up at 5am. If he is looking after your dc all day or otherwise working then you both need to deal with the DC after school.

ouryve Thu 13-Jun-13 19:52:34

More than 20 minutes tv isn't going to harm them - they probably need to decompress as much as you do. Why don't you simply snuggle down on the sofa with them for a chat while you have a cuppa?

lecce Thu 13-Jun-13 19:54:57

4yr old currently attends pre-school 2.5 hours 4 days, and all day on the other day. However, dh is doing online exam marking at the moment so has work to do as well (he only does this at certain times of the year).

Dozer Thu 13-Jun-13 19:56:05

You sound really tired, 5am is very early. If your H is at home, why do you need to be there everyday too? You could stay at school, get work done, go home at 7ish to do bedtime, and avoid the early starts, just get back early a couple of nights a week.

Letticetheslug Thu 13-Jun-13 19:58:22

I've been in the same position ( FT teacher and Senco), although my husband also worked full time ( and wasn't home til 6.30+) It may not be what you want to hear, but you will never get those years back .

All parents are knackered, I know teachers work hard, but you are back by 4 , spend time with them -in years to come you will wish you had.

Mone are 20 and 24 and I look back to when they were small and wishI had had more time

pennyink Thu 13-Jun-13 20:01:30

My kids have watched loads of tv at certain points, hardly any at others. I wouldn't worry about your kids watching loads when you are really tired - it's just a way of managing your current situation. i would just sit between them on the sofa and snuggle while you all watch.

I am similar to you in that I leave at 7am, 1.5 hr commute, 8 hr day then 1.5 hour commute home, it is bloody exhausting! My parter is a SAHD too, but works evenings. Some nights I'm tired and grumpy but I force myself to be smiley playful mummy because I only have 2 hours with them til they go to bed sad they are 4yrsold and 20mnths old.

No advice just lots of sympathy because I know it sucks sometimes! thanks

hellohellohihi Thu 13-Jun-13 20:02:30

I am in a similar situation... I work 4 days a week 6am-2pm. I collect DD (17mo) from nursery/grandparents at about 2:30-3pm and then have the afternoons and 1 day a week with her (as well as weekends obv).

The afternoons are quite hard if I'm honest; I'm tired from being up early and then there are jobs to do (DH is out 6am-8pm so a lot is left to me) yet I feel I should be thinking of fun/exciting/stimulating things to do with DD but am a bit brain dead so get stuck in this ridic guilty cycle. I've even thought about getting one of those "how to entertain your toddler" type books but feel a bit of a failure when I read the reviews that say "if you need this book there must be something wrong with you, surely everyone knows how to keep their own children entertained".

So I'm afraid I don't have much advice but am glad you posted as its reassuring to know I'm not the only one struggling with this.

tabulahrasa Thu 13-Jun-13 20:03:48

Watch TV with to them about what's on, ask them questions about what's happening, what they think is going to happen next and completely random ones like - How does Peppa's car manage to park on the top of those hills? rofl

It doesn't take much effort at all and it turns TV from a passive thing into an active thing which also builds important transferable skills for decoding and analyzing other texts - no need to feel guilty at all about it then.

pizzaqueen Thu 13-Jun-13 20:05:29

YANBU. My son is 2.5 on days I work I pick him up from nursery around 5:30 home for 5:45, dinner, TV, bedtime.

I don't have the physical energy for anything else on work days, I have an hour commute and by the end of the day I'm completely drained. DS is also tired from nursery. My DO works shifts so isn't at home on the evenings. I feel real guilt that I see my DS for one hour on work days and its the most stressful hour of my day, I want to give him more quality time but neither of us are in the mood. I just try to make up for it on weekends, days off and holidays and make sure he gets that quality time at other times, the end of the day when we're tired and crabby is not it.

MinesADecaff Thu 13-Jun-13 20:13:40

I feel exactly the same as you do. Except it's not my DC, it's my stepchild. So I'll probably get flamed.

tumbletumble Thu 13-Jun-13 20:19:06

I like the idea of getting home early / late on alternate evenings. On the late days you stay at school to do marking etc so you can get up later than 5am; on the early days you try hard to switch off TV and play with the DC.

Try not to feel guilty - you are doing your best.

MummytoKatie Thu 13-Jun-13 20:31:08

I discovered when 8.5 months pregnant (and too exhausted to be fun all the time) that dd (3) loves to watch telly whilst cuddled up to me. It was really really nice once I stopped having "TV guilt" and focused on enjoying the cuddle.

lecce Thu 13-Jun-13 20:49:52

Thank you for the replies. In the nicest possible way, it's nice to know others feel the same. I think from September I may try and rework things so I'm not up at 5am as I think that has a kind of snowball effect on everything.

joanofarchitrave Thu 13-Jun-13 20:58:43

I agree re stopping the 5am. It's unbelievably draining long-term.

I'd second others saying just sit with them for a bit - just be. Give yourself time to pick up the pace of the day they have already had. Some of the very few memories I have of our entire family being together and not having a massive row, are of us all sitting around commenting on a telly programme. Also, if they enjoy telly (and most people do), there's a lot to be said for you effectively saying 'it's ok to do what you actually want to do/a little of what you fancy does you good'). TBH these days telly is pretty sociable as screen time goes.

The holidays are coming. You will have time to spend with them then. Don't sweat it - you are doing a hard job and it's OK.

luckymamaoffour Thu 13-Jun-13 22:05:39

No doubt I will be flamed, but I think you are being very selfish. Your children NEED you. You haven't seen them all day and they deserve your attention for those few hours that they can see you. They won't be young for long. Try to find ways to boost your energy levels - go to bed earlier, take supplements, whatever, but don't deny your little ones those few hours of playtime with you.

joanofarchitrave Thu 13-Jun-13 22:10:52

lucky, did you note that actually the OP DID spend time with her children after work? She just found it very difficult to be fun-loving directive supermum, as opposed to exhausted interested but more in the background parent.

missmapp Thu 13-Jun-13 22:11:15

I work f/t ( also a teacher) but dh works f/time aswell. I find it easier as they come in with me at half 5 ish, so the telly just doesn't go on.

Boards games work well for us at this time (mine are a bit older, 8 and 6) as I can chat to them, it is organised , but I can also sit down with a cuppa and collapse. However, there are times when they are on the naughty step after about 10 mins in my care!!

I am trying to do more with them though, as , especially with ds1, I can really see time slipping away.

Roll on the summer, eh!!

Guitargirl Thu 13-Jun-13 22:11:17

I am not a teacher but I do have a stressful job which takes up a lot of headspace. I get home early enough to have evenings with the DCs most nights and quite often I am exhausted and struggle with energy until their bedtime after which I usually have to do more work. I try really hard to forget about work and focus on their day and their news from school. I often wonder how teachers who have their own young children cope with being surrounded all day with other people's children and then have their own to deal with when they get home from work! No advice - just sympathy from me.

tabulahrasa Thu 13-Jun-13 22:12:01

She isn't denying them it...she's saying she's struggling with it. hmm

marriedinwhiteagain Thu 13-Jun-13 22:14:12

FFS most full time parents would bit your hand off to get in at 4.30/5 to have some time with their DC. Most full time working mums get up at 6ish and get home at 6ish is they lucky. And don't have a six week holiday with their family to look forward to. Some of them are dropping and collecting from chold care too and coming home to tea, baths, housework AND the work. Sorry I thonk you need to get effing real, be grateful and pull your socks up angry

WilsonFrickett Thu 13-Jun-13 22:14:38

Well I'm not going to flame you exactly mama, more point out that in many homes the parents or parent work f/t and hardly see their DCs before tea time. The ops children have a parent at home so I'm not sure why it's incumbent on her to come home and then break into a full on Mary Poppins routine.

Let them unwind with the tv, you unwind too. Then have an early tea and play a couple of games after that. Sit with them in the bath and chat, then a nice snugly story. Perfect.

Although I also think the 5am starts are killing you. Far better to do two late nights a week IMO.

marriedinwhiteagain Thu 13-Jun-13 22:15:34

Apols for spelling mistakes - on phone.

WilsonFrickett Thu 13-Jun-13 22:16:45

Hilarious x post there. I think me and married may have slightly different viewpoints....

meglet Thu 13-Jun-13 22:19:37


When I get in from work (3 days a week) the TV goes on. The DC's watch TV while I potter and wind down. Then there might be homework too. I make sure they get 15 mins one-on-one time for stories and chatting at bedtime but I certainly don't play.

starkadder Thu 13-Jun-13 22:21:21

Uncalled for, married and mama...

YANBU, OP, and I agree with a) not getting up at 5am at least a few times a week (!) and b) watching tv with them and kissing goodbye to the guilt.

deleted203 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:24:49

I just knew you were going to be a teacher when I clicked on the thread!

Guitargirl has it pretty much spot on with wondering how teachers cope, IMO. I teach teens - and when mine were small I would get in on my knees having left home at 7.30am and got home at 5.30pm. That's a ten hour day. Children would shout, 'Mummy!' excitedly - and some days I would think, 'Christ - the first kid that's been pleased to see me all day!' and would summon the energy to be lovely and smiley. And other days I would think, 'I cannot face another bloody child. I give all my time and all my energy to other people's children'.

I think what other people often don't realise is the amount of work we generally have to do in the evenings. Sunday I spent 7 hours planning work for this week's lessons. Tonight I got in at 6.00pm, cooked tea and ate with family at 7.00pm. And then I sat down to mark a set of books. I finished about 10 mins ago. Last night I worked from just after 7.00pm til past midnight.

Give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can. It is BLOODY hard combining f/t work, of any kind, with being a Mum.

echt Thu 13-Jun-13 22:27:01

I'd second the advice to do the prep after school, not first thing in the morning. When you get home, no need to rush around being proactive; take it slowly, cup of tea, chat and then when you're unwound, time to turn off the TV. Or not.

I've been teaching full-time since DD was 7 months old, and found the getting back from work quite hard. I felt as though the children I taught got the best of me, and there wasn't enough left when I got home for DD. I took a self-hypnois course that taught me some relaxation techniques I found useful.

Ignore married and mama.

marriedinwhiteagain Thu 13-Jun-13 22:27:16

Far more kindly put than me *wilson. Still don't really understand what the op's whining aboout though. I'm regularly up at 5 to get work done - when the house is deliciously quiet and nobody wants anything. BUT I'm rarely home before 6.30 and DH works more than full time too. Perhaps the OP wpould like to swap for a month or two and then tell me how tired she is. Bet she's not 53 either grin

sameoldIggi Thu 13-Jun-13 22:27:26

This is a hard time of day though. I find after 4pm hard, whether it's a day I work OTH or a day when I've been at home.
Much better to take them out somewhere, now and then at least - to the library, park, even to get some messages - and supermarket cafe teas are cheap and mean no washing up!

morganster Thu 13-Jun-13 22:28:06

I'd just leave the tv on and do odd bits now and then. You can talk about the programme, snuggle up, do some colouring at the same time if you feel like it. They need to wind down too. I work half days. I don't really "play" after school. I make tea, wash up, get clothes ready for the next day. I interact whilst I'm doing it, but I don't get the Monopoly out on a weekday.

maddening Thu 13-Jun-13 22:28:37

what about 2 nights arrange for dh to meet you from work with dc and go and do something - eg all go swimming, all go to the park. Maybe a 3rd night see if there's an earlybird offer on somewhere and go for tea. Then the other 2 nights choose a family film and sit down to watch it together and don't feel guilty about it.

also - your dh could organise the after work activities so you just come home and enjoy watching the dc.

frazzled74 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:30:24

if I were you I would stop the early mornings and stay at work late twice a week.If they are happy watching tv when you get in on the other 3 days then either have a relax in the bath for half an hour or join them watching tv.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 13-Jun-13 22:32:13

married that was harsh.

OP - don't feel so guilty. Come in, get yourself sorted and then sit down with your kids and leave the TV on. Mine are 2 and 4 and once we have got back from school pick up at 3.45/4 they have a snack, we chat about the day. They often play outside for half an hour or so, but then they are in and just want to flop in front of the telly because they are tired from the day - the 4 year old especially because of school.

I work 5 days a week and pick my DCs up from school/nursery and arrive home about 3.30-4pm. We just hang out really, I prepare tea for them, we chat, collect eggs, wander round the garden, play with the dog, etc etc. They have friends round. We also snuggle up and watch TV. Sometimes we read or play games but quite often after a day at school they want to chill out too. You're feeling that you should be doing all this focussed play but actually hanging out in a low key way is probably what they want to do as well smile

goodasgold Thu 13-Jun-13 22:48:01

I'm not sure that married was harsh.

I opened this thread expecting to see a mum that gets home at the dcs bedtime.

I don't understand this. If I was sahm and my dh was getting home at 4/5 pm too tired to do anything I would have precious little sympathy for him. Especially if he was coming home and turning the TV off and expecting the dc to entertain themselves.

Athrawes Thu 13-Jun-13 22:52:30

Six weeks holiday. You're having a laugh!!! No way do teachers get six weeks, far less.
As a teacher myself I come home at 5pm and lie on the floor and let my two year old play the jumping on Mummy game. Then he helps me cook tea. After tea it is back to the jumping on Mummy game. No TV until half an hour before bed. I would like to be thinner but would be less amusing as a trampoline to jump on.

marriedinwhiteagain Thu 13-Jun-13 22:55:24

Right: tues, weds, thurs - usually work 5-7 in the mrnings just to keep on top.

Every day drop dd at school bUs for 7.45 and rhen drop ds before going to work and starting at 8.30. Try to leave work at no later than 6ish but often later and at least once or twice a fortnight have meetings until 7. Once a week do a school pick up too 8hat involves a 30 mile round trip.

DH works at least 11 hour days.

Fridays involve an after school activity for dd and Sainos. At least once a week there is an evening commitment. - either parents eve, pcc, or PTA ( two schools, opposite directions). At w/ends both have sport/artistic activities that involve usually about 50-60 miles in the car.

Have 5 hours of paid help but it is me shopping, cooking and organising. DH works much harder.

Am awfully sorry but although our dC are older teenagers I really don't understand what the OP"s problem is when she has a SAHD doing all the jobs while she works. I just don't.

hellohellohihi Fri 14-Jun-13 07:40:53

Married, it's not a fricking competition! People have different tolerances, the op is clearly struggling with her set-up and you piping up with "my day is even harder" is doing nothing to help. What do you expect op to say to your post? "Oh yes why didn't I see it like that before, I'm almost at breaking point, but hell, you're right, I should feel lucky, so lets just add that to the list of things I feel like I'm failing at because that will make me feel sooooo much better!"

Seriously why do people both responding to a post if they have nothing useful to add. I guess it's easy to hide behind the anonymity of an Internet forum.

Jesus, it's the end of term - give yourself a fecking break.

I'm sure you're enthusiasm for crafts/playing with dollies/answering all questions beginning with 'Why'? will come back in a few weeks.

All the teachers I work with are on their knees right about now.

Let them watch tv, play board games from the couch, or made up games - a favourite of mine is bring me 10 things beginning with the letter 'L'.

You don't need to apologise for being without energy, you've run out.

Children are mostly dull and talk shite - anyone who can get through 4 hours of directed play without alcohol is doing a great job grin

tanukiton Fri 14-Jun-13 08:36:06

Haha fairycake I read my kids far more books at bedtime with a large glass of winesmile if you are struggling how about Friday pizza and games night? Monday 4 year old mummy and me. Tuesday tv night. Wed 6 year old help make supper? Thurs daddy night. What I am trying to say, if you schedule in your time it might make you feel less guilty about being normal and not super mum. It is ok to turn the telly on . If you feel bad watch chuggington in French.

I pick DS up at 5.30 most days and we do have the tv on for an hour. Sometimes we watch together, sometimes he watches while I potter around. Sometimes he wants me to play with him so I do. Whatever we do, I don't feel guilty. I see him at weekends and have plenty of quality time. Having quality time after work is tricky, and to be fair the kids need to unwind too, they don't need to be engaged in full on play if they just want to chill in front of the tv.

Working and having kids is knackering and there is no point in making it more knackering than it has to be IMO.

xylem8 Fri 14-Jun-13 08:49:14

'Watch TV with to them about what's on, ask them questions about what's happening, what they think is going to happen next and completely random ones like - How does Peppa's car manage to park on the top of those hills? '

sorry but I think this is an awful idea! It will spoil the programme for them and teach them it is ok to yap away while someone else is watching TV.TV will become aural wall

Marriedinwhite your life sounds horrible exhausting. I would have a nervous breakdown if I tried to live like that. I know people like you exist (boundless energy, need to fill every hour of the day with productivity) but most people aren't like that.

I'm pretty sure that even SAHP struggle to be enthusiastic and playful and interesting every single day.

It's not a reflection on how good a parent you are or how much you love your children.

There are plenty of threads on here from SAHP who are on their knees because their DCs get up at 5am.
So no wonder you are exhausted.

I'm not going to engage in how hard my life is as a full time working parent with 3 DCs because its irelevant.

The fact is, you are tired
Everyone gets tired, and I bet there's not a parent in the world who hasn't had a day when the last thing they want to do is switch in to Mary Poppins mode, or start doing something wonderfully creative/energetic/messy.

Please don't feel guilty about it.

Try and implement what pp suggested re the early mornings.
And sometimes, just sit next to them and watch tv. Have a cup of tea.

orangeandemons Fri 14-Jun-13 09:05:52

I knew this would have been posted by a teacher. I too am absolutely wiped out at the end of the day. My legs hurt from standing up all day and I am beyond exhausted.

I have worked in other jobs and never felt like this at the end of the day, in fact I posted a thread about it a few months ago.

I put tv on and don't care. I lie on sofa for 1/2 an hour to recover and chat to dd. then I start tea etc.

I start to recover about 8.00pm at night. Teaching is a tough job

justwondering72 Fri 14-Jun-13 09:11:00

We too have found that board games with the tv quietly in in the background is a great way to fill the pre dinner gap. DH is a teacher too, and I know he finds it really hard to go from full on work mode to Fun Daddy the minute he gets home. I certainly don't expect him to start doing craft projects or building tents at that point - all I ask is that he keeps them amused while I cook dinner and hide in the kitchen for a while ! So he leaves the tv or cbeebies games on, plays some board games, does some drawing etc. with them. If he does come home and not do anything with them I get a bit annoyed partly because they so look forward to him coming home and partly because it makes my life harder! But I try to cut him some slack, teaching is such an all consuming job it doesn't leave a lot of emotional energy for your own children at times.

So my advice is leave the Telly on, play some games and make up for it in the holidays!

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 14-Jun-13 09:12:23

married if there was just one thread where you didn't feel the need to brag about how hard you both work, and if you do it why can't anyone that would be good!

You and DH have a very very good income - you work through choice, you don't need to. Not everyone is motivated by the same things.

The OP is teaching all day, her senses must be totally battered by the time she gets home, and she still wants to be a good Mum to her DCs. What is wrong with that?

MorrisZapp Fri 14-Jun-13 09:18:23

Everybody's different but when I finish work early it wouldn't enter my head to go and get DS from nursery to spend time with him. I'd pop to the shops, have a coffee etc. What is there to feel guilty about? Your kids are probably among the top 1% of the worlds population in terms of the love, care, material security and intellectual stimulation you provide for them so what's the problem?

Kids telly is great, I watched tons of telly as a kid and I'm practically a genius. Nobody will thank you or give you a prize for turning the telly off and dragging yourself and your knackered kids into some activity none of you have any interest in.

Piss off down to Starbucks, I would.

pinkdelight Fri 14-Jun-13 09:21:48

Definitely echo the 'give yourself a break' crew rather than the 'pull your socks up' lot. These DC aren't deprived - they have a SAHD. You work full-time. Just do what you can do. If it helps, on top of being knackered I find playing with little kids tedious at the best of times and know For A Fact that I won't look back and regret the lost hours of car brumming. Yeah I could grin and pretend but honestly, the kids can tell if I'm faking and it doesn't last long. I do what I can and they are doing perfectly well. Ease up on yourself. To be honest, in your shoes, I'd probably use the extra hour to go to the gym or read a book in peace and then arrive home much happier!

flippinada Fri 14-Jun-13 09:22:32

Working f/t with small dc is hard even when you have someone else at home to pick up the slack. And teaching is a very tough job (child of teachers over here). No wonder you're shattered !

Pay precisely no attention to married. I've worked since my DS was a baby, most of that time as a single parent and I understand its not a "who works hardest" competition.

AThingInYourLife Fri 14-Jun-13 09:25:07

Two things strike me


your working hours - you are getting up at 5am, then finishing work "early", then working late in the evening

I don't mean to be harsh, but that is madness - where's your time to unwind?

It seems to me that you are using what should be your relaxing time to see your children. But that is not restful and you are leaving yourself too tired.

I think you should consider prioritising keeping yourself well enough rested during the week that you hit the weekend in fine fettle for your children.

That means staying at school to finish your work and leaving yourself free to wind down in the evenings. Also ideally get up later and get more sleep.

You are a FT working parent. That means your kids will see less if you. Own it and make the time that is available really count.

if you must come home early to see the kids - get outside with them.

Take them to the park, play football in the garden, run about aimlessly in the rain

4pm is the part of the day when it all starts to go a bit wrong - everyone is tired and a bit grumpy.

Fresh air and exercise really, really helps avoid it turning into squabble central

AThingInYourLife Fri 14-Jun-13 09:29:52

"Kids telly is great, I watched tons of telly as a kid and I'm practically a genius."


Love it!

Bonsoir Fri 14-Jun-13 09:35:00

Why don't you all do something relaxing together, like having a bath?

fromparistoberlin Fri 14-Jun-13 09:38:15

agree with Dozer, wake later. Then dop that extra hour after school and get home 5pm

easy to say though.....

but 5am, starts? I have same situation as you, but 6am baby, 5am is a KILLER

remeber most working parents dont get home till 6pm ish

AlwaysWashing Fri 14-Jun-13 09:38:24

Doesn't matter how brilliant anyone else is or how you could/should/would cope if you we're a better person - bollocks to that and them grin

Sorry you've been getting such stupid comments.

I'm a SAHM and can't imagine how you F/T parents juggle it all - hats off to you.

It's pretty clear that your routine needs to change, the 5am starts need to go, replaced with a couple of late evenings.
I think it is important to remember that they're not little for long and to enjoy them as much as possible but also not try to be all things to all people when you're shattered because you'll just fail and feel crappy.

A nice snuggle up on the sofa with the telly won't do you or them any harm at all grin

coppertop Fri 14-Jun-13 09:41:43

I find with my lot that 4pm - 6pm is when everyone just wants to unwind. It's the time of day when they start to get tired and cranky, and the bickering starts.

Even if a particular activity is set out for them on request, it doesn't take long for someone to end up crying or snapping. It descends into a very similar scenario to the one you describe.

Don't be so hard on yourself. You don't have to morph into Mary Poppins when you walk through the front door!

RandomFriend Fri 14-Jun-13 09:44:03

You sound very tired, OP.

Unlike some of the posters, I have sympathy for you. Sympathy that you want the children to do something other than watch TV; and sympathy that you find it hard to be patient with other people's children all day and then go home and be patient and enthusiastic with your own.

Watching a bit of whatever they are watching might help you to unwind and to get into what they are doing. I agree about making TV into something active rather than something passive.

The idea of children entertain themselves quietly is a nice one but not so easy to achieve. You probably do have to lead the, ime.

Can you plan a couple of non-tv activities for them on one or two evenings per week, then you would feel less bad about tv on other evenings? Have them do painting (outside if you have space) or make salt dough for them to model with? Take them outside with a ball or frisby? Anything that they can enjoy with them?

And definitely work out some other routine that a 5am start for next year. That sounds really tough.

motherinferior Fri 14-Jun-13 09:46:43

Wot A Thing and Morris said.

That part of the evening is v hard to handle with that age group.

A bath is a very good idea too grin

SavoyCabbage Fri 14-Jun-13 09:57:19

When mine were that age my dh did the bedtime story and this was his quality time with them. Half an hour of time together with no distractions. I think it worked so well as he was genuinely enjoying it. He would take them to the library too so that they could choose books together. And so he could make sure there were no Mr Men which he hated...

He definitely wasn't coming home and making Dora the Explorers house out of lego on a Tuesday night. That was weekend stuff.

I think because you have the ability to finish work early, you feel guilty for doing so. And you shouldn't.

Xmasbaby11 Fri 14-Jun-13 10:04:06

It is tough trying to be super lively mummy, isn't it? DH works full time, I work full time in 4.5 days. DD (18m) is at nursery full time and one of us picks her up by 4.30 so we have a couple of hours together. We both work hard to do this and don't get up early but often bring work home in the evenings.

I don't think you should be getting up at 5am as this is unnaturally early for most people. Of course you are shattered by 5pm. Couldn't you get up at a normal time, come home a little later and finish your work when the kids are in bed? Anyway if you alternated long/short days you could have some easy TV snuggly days and some more fun activities.

Your DH is at home with them all the time and you have frequent holidays which presumably you spend with the DC. I actually think your DC have a pretty good time of it. As others have pointed out, most working parents don't have those holidays. I'm not having a go at teachers, just stating a fact.

WilsonFrickett Fri 14-Jun-13 10:07:20

What Savoy said. My DH still sits in the bathroom and chats to DS7 when he's having his bath - that's 'their' time. He's never really been one for coming home from work and being fun, engaged daddy - that's for the weekend, when he does loads of creative, interesting things with him.

And tbf, since DS started school, it's park, home, snack, homework, TV, tea, snuggle on couch with us maybe watching something we all like for half an hour, then bath and bed - he's not up for a big active evening either.

mrsjay Fri 14-Jun-13 10:11:55

let them watch tv it is ok one of them is at school so they need to relax too don't stress and dont read teacher bashing shock @ that , keeo your time for the weekends I honestly think slobbing in front of the tv and spending time with your chldren is much more worthwhile than trying to do fun things with them when you can't find the enthusiasm for it try and relax

Phineyj Fri 14-Jun-13 10:12:06

How about get some decent kids' DVDs in - BBC and so on and watch those. My nieces (about the same age as your DC) love all those old things like the Flumps. I second the advice to get outside when the weather's good too. School is an artificial atmosphere and you don't get a lot of fresh air. I would be dying by that time if I'd got up at 5am and taught all day.

Your kids will not care what you did between 4 and 6 pm when they were little but they might remember if you were always grumpy, so give yourself a break and do whatever's easiest. Also as an average over the year they get more time with you than most DC of ft working parents so no need to beat yourself up.

Depends how much mess they'd make, but is it possible to have a craft table set up so they can make stuff with minimal supervision? This works for my nieces.

mrsjay Fri 14-Jun-13 10:14:30

seems to be little time to do anything other than read with ds1, and that makes me feel guilty. On nights like tonight, I find mysef wishing I had stayed at work a bit later and that makes me feel horribly guilty

most parents are not doing anything in the evening with their Dc honestly give yourself a break you sound tired and very sad

orangeandemons Fri 14-Jun-13 10:50:57

My HIV used to call all time after 4:30 until kids are asleep the Witching Hours, as everyone was tired and hungry. She said it was always the worst time of day from her experience with families.

Morriszap, I like your style....

AThingInYourLife Fri 14-Jun-13 10:55:26

"The problem is, I feel like this should be the best part of my day."

The only way 4-6pm can be the best part of your day is if you can go for a nice relaxing pint, then sneak in another. Then call some friends to join you. Then get some food before you all get too drunk.

If you have to spend it with children, it's the worst part of the day.

theodorakisses Fri 14-Jun-13 10:56:53

I am so over the "tv is evil" crap, it is so sad. There are tvs everywhere here, even an outdoor one by the pool. Who cares? As long as everyone is happy and content, so be it. Mind you I have a nice car and live in help as well so not really an average person on this forum

motherinferior Fri 14-Jun-13 10:56:58

Darling, the thing is that most parents are desperately getting through to the bit of the evening where they can crack open the gin wine.

The other thing is that I really don't think you get fathers beating themselves up to carve chunks of time out of the day where they can be with their kids before resuming work. It's usually mothers stretching themselves incredibly thin because of feeling that if they can be physically present with their kids they should be. I reckon you should get up at a sane hour, stay on at work to finish what you can and then come home. At which point (a) you will be far more able to manage a smile, even if it's a bit forced (b) it will be closer to gin time, which will in any case help with (a) above.

motherinferior Fri 14-Jun-13 10:57:35

Or Wot A Thing Said, again grin

perpetuallypuzzled Fri 14-Jun-13 11:02:26

Youi cannot force enjoyment. You will all end up pissed off and crotchety.Just focus on weekends

persimmon Fri 14-Jun-13 11:03:05

Are you me? smile

I chat with my DS after work, he watches a bit of TV, I take him to bed, we read a story and chat and then lights out. What else are you meant to do? He knows I love him and value his company;; we don't need to be making Lego Taj Mahals in the working week.

relax! (literally!)

piprabbit Fri 14-Jun-13 11:17:05

I have been known to lay on the floor and nap while DS drives his cars up and down my body (I make a good mountain range) blush.

On a more positive note I've found that my DCs enjoy doing activities alongside me. So we sit at the kitchen table and we all have a colouring book/ bit of paper and we all sit and draw and colour. I find that the fact I'm sitting there doing the same activity as them means that they stop fighting for my attention and I can enjoy a coffee or glass of wine while I colour. It gives me 20 mins of stillness while I gather myself. I find the colouring quite therapeutic (plasticine too - but it's a bit more of a PITA to clean up afterwards) and we just chat about what we are colouring (and I can say stuff about how nicely they are colouring, what good colours they have picked etc.) and talk about our day. We all seem calmer for it as the sibling fighting for mummy to play is vastly reduced.

NicknameTaken Fri 14-Jun-13 11:24:25

I think it's a recent thing to expect to be Super Fun Mummy the minute you walk in the door. Previous generations didn't put that kind of stress on themselves.

Personally I'm fine with some post-school watching TV and having a cuddle. Sometimes we'll be more ambitious and do a board game or jigsaw - dd is currently obsessed with "Guess Who". But by not doing it every day, you're keeping it special....

fairyqueen Fri 14-Jun-13 12:04:42

May I suggest DVDs of serials you enjoyed as a child? A long story Makes it exciting looking forward to next episode rather than yet another Peppa Pig. I loved the old BBC version of the secret garden and enjoyed it with DD. Cosying up on the sofa together is not wasted time, it's happy, loving time.

evertonmint Fri 14-Jun-13 12:19:13

I work freelance in a crazy full-on for 2 months then totally off pattern. When I'm working do 9-3 and all evenings and then full on childcare (5yo and 2yo) the rest of the time incl school run as DH is out 12 hours a day. I find my DCs watch more tv when I work and I cut them and me some slack. However if I need a break but don't want them watching telly, I have a few things I can quickly get out on the kitchen table - Hama beads, playdoh, colouring books, sticker books. I get them settled with this and then can sit and chat to them with a cuppa, or leave them to it if I need to decompress a bit. It buys me a precious half hour or so where they're not aimless, are more focused as they're sat at the table rather than being able to flit around, less able to kill each other, less likely to create havoc by chucking toys everywhere and it takes me no thought to set up. Might be worth just having a few things like that which you can grab quickly.

evertonmint Fri 14-Jun-13 12:20:34

Ah piprabbit said the same thing first grin

fromparistoberlin Fri 14-Jun-13 12:26:54

saw you will drop 5am


OP just to say, I do feel the same. I start work 730am most days and get home for 6/630, I do struggle with the washing up/kids time/bathtime when all I want is a wine and read my book

Its hard

and I also want to get home earlier so we can go to park/have a walk as its such a fun way to spend evening

Animol Fri 14-Jun-13 14:58:53

I really sympathise with you OP but I can't help remembering my own childhood when I read your post. My Dm - also a teacher - left the house before we got up then came home stressed and knackered while we watched TV. When I hear about parents who can't wait to get home to their kids after a day at work I can't help wishing mine had been like that. It's one of the reasons I'm a SAHM as I don't want the same sort of relationship with my kids as I had with my parents sad rant over - sorry if it's not very helpful for you

whois Fri 14-Jun-13 16:37:35

Oh god OP, don't sweat it! I don't think my mum ever 'played' with me in the evenings as such. Sit and have a cuddle while watching TV, set them up with some colouring while you make tea, go out for a little walk or trip to the park, get them ino bed early for plenty of time to read to/with them.

No need to actually 'play' when you're physically tired and emotionally drained.

holly47 Fri 14-Jun-13 17:19:55

I don't play with my children after work..they generally watch tv while I potter and drink tea. We are all tired by the end of the day and although its not ideal, it is what it is...

mrsjay Fri 14-Jun-13 17:21:13

when My children were small my DH didnt really play with the children when he came in from work he would sit with them or read a book but nothing to taxing wink

icklemssunshine1 Fri 14-Jun-13 18:01:04

I'm a teacher too (0.8). Leave house at 7 to drop DD at nursery before going to work. I always leave by 4pm & spend time with her before her bed. At times I feel energetic & we play or sing, other times its sitting watching (bloody) Peppa Pig & snuggling on sofa. She "helps" me cook dinner & DH gives her her bath so I get 30 minutes rest time before cracking on with school work in evenings. Sometimes I find it hard to summon the energy but I make myself do it. I don't want to turn around in years to come & think I spent more time with other people's kids thank own.

Just look forward to the summer smile

icklemssunshine1 Fri 14-Jun-13 18:01:26

*than my own

icklemssunshine1 Fri 14-Jun-13 18:09:14

Oh and married is definitely been hard.

Don't we all love a teacher-basher!! Blah, blah, blah.

(Puts on a broken record)

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