To ask is your toddler your 100% focus?

(67 Posts)
1wokeuplikethis Tue 02-Jun-15 13:37:42

The days where you're not working and you're alone with just your toddler, how much of the day do you spend together interacting with each other?

I have a 2yo and on my days with her I feel like if we aren't constantly playing/talking/singing it's not 'right'. For instance, if we're in the car I feel like I should talk to her. Constantly. If I don't talk to her I feel bad. If I'm in the shower and she is playing with her toys on the bathroom floor, if I've not said anything for a while I chastise myself and start singing some bloody nursery rhyme again. Even if she's not interested.

She wants me to play with her, so I do. Sometimes I'm busy doing something else like cooking/washing and she can play happily by herself. But she owns the telly and the iPads. So...if I wanted to sit down with a cup of tea and watch something, she will demand peppa and/or cry/climb all over me constantly to get my attention and it's easier just to give in and let her do what she wants.

Perversely, if I do manage to snatch 20mins of peace I beat myself up for being a crap distant mum (God, I am annoying. Seriously bloody annoying, I know).

Other mums seem so chilled and I stil seem so frazzled like the early baby days.

Just wondering what others do to try as get some perspective on if I'm being a twat really; a twatty trying to be Mary poppins div.

NinkyNonkers Tue 02-Jun-15 13:42:31

Mine have always just pottered around behind me as I do stuff. We normally chat in car. Today we have stayed in cause of the weather, so we got home from school run and did some bits in the greenhouse (he sprayed and I potted), watched some tv, played marble runs, baked cake (he stirred then wandered off) then he watched some more tv while I made lunch and dinner. Now we'be eaten we're off to read a book then sort washing before school run. So a real mixture I guess.

Soduthen116 Tue 02-Jun-15 13:44:40

When mine were toddlers/pre school we had lots of interaction but we also had mummy time when they played in their bedroom/playroom while I had a cuppa etcetera.

I also carried on doing jobs like cleaning and ironing while they played.

Children do need to amuse themselves sometimes or they don't learn imaginative play. It can't be all about you instigating play or joining in.

Also I refused to get distracted during driving and hell would freeze over before I played bloody nursery rhyme tapes. Mine listened to radio 4/5 and seemed to like it.

It's a balance of giving them attention but not allowing them to dominate do personally I would back off a little and let her understand that mummy needs mummy time too.

WorraLiberty Tue 02-Jun-15 13:45:12

I was a bit like that with my PFB

Once the others come along, you have more than one child to focus on and your toddler has other people to focus on too.

morelikeguidelines Tue 02-Jun-15 13:47:10

I almost never get that as I have older dd and when I am not at work I have to do cooking etc.

Topseyt Tue 02-Jun-15 13:48:09

Mine are almost grown up now, but when they were toddlers I certainly didn't make them my 100% focus. That would have driven me nuts.

Snatching a bit of peace for yourself while she watches TV or does whatever is fine. Playing on the bathroom floor by herself while you shower there is fine, even if you haven't spoken to her for while.

I did all of that. Mine seem to have emerged OK on the other side.

Don't beat yourself up. They have to learn slowly that the world doesn't always revolve around them and that they should, within reason of course, learn to amuse themselves. You have to guard your own sanity too. wink

DoJo Tue 02-Jun-15 13:48:54

Being able to entertain themselves is a life skill that children need to learn, so I wouldn't worry too much about interrupting your daughter if she seems to be managing that! Personally, I love hearing my son's imagination develop and watching him playing on his own to see how he mimics the experiences he has by feeding his toys etc and re-enacting incidents that he remembers from his own life. If she can't entertain herself as she gets older, then she will be the one who suffers, and if you plan to have any more children, then her being able to entertain herself will be vital in order to retain your sanity.

CrohnicallyInflexible Tue 02-Jun-15 13:49:10

I spend every minute of every day interacting with my DD. I never stick her in front of Mr Tumble while I have a cup of coffee and MN.

And if you believe that, you'll believe anything!

Really, I tend to alternate between doing something with DD and letting her play by herself/watch TV while I do something else (jobs around the house, MN, cup of coffee, etc)

summersnowshowers Tue 02-Jun-15 13:50:06

I was like you with my 2.5yo dd but i noticed it was having a bit if a detrimental effect on her. She wouldnt play with other children or do anything without me, so since discovering i was pregnant i have made a conscious effort to stop doing so much with her/for her.

I hate it- i feel like a crappy mother but now im only a few weeks from giving birth im grateful to get a bit of peace (even if it is a guilty peace lol). She still witters away to me 24:7 but she will play independently now. I also had a huge cut back on telly as she started to have tantrums everytime something other than peppa was on!

Its the mummy guilt- it gets all of us at some point!

undoubtedly Tue 02-Jun-15 13:52:01

Mine is 2.5 and I work full time.

I do feel guilty if I don't interact with her, but I also have to find a balance because there are household jobs which just need to be done.

If we have a busy day on a Saturday and I have had to drag her round the supermarket, or clean the house, or cook a meal, I try to make up for it on a Sunday by doing something which she likes, eg the park or swimming.

I am often exhausted by bath time and the temptation is to sit on my phone while she plays in the bath. I usually do it for 5 mins then I give in and interact with her. I rationalise it by giving myself some slack for being very tired and busy at the end of the day, but I do feel guilty.

Does your DD still nap? I only watch what I want to watch on TV or the ipad once she's napping or in bed, otherwise I get no peace.

If I want to sit down for an hour and she's awake, we'll watch something Disney together. Peppa I will ban if I'm finding it too annoying.

undoubtedly Tue 02-Jun-15 13:52:57

I should add that she has always been very good at playing on her own, and won't particularly come and find me or badger me, so the temptation to leave her to it sometimes is strong!

captainproton Tue 02-Jun-15 13:55:08

This is where siblings are a godsend, they can amuse themselves in their little toddler games. Once a day itry to do a parent led activity. Some days they are not interested. Sometimes I'm told to'go away' if they are playing nicely in their own and I just referee spats. We go out everyday mind, otherwise I'd go insane.

DamsonInDistress Tue 02-Jun-15 13:57:10

No, absolutely not. That way madness lies. I have a friend who pandered so completely to her first child when he was small, organising his day so completely, that now at 9 years old he cannot play independently at home for more than about 15 minutes without some kind out if input. He is a nightmare to have on play dates or to go out on trips with. You are doing your child no favours in long run by not encouraging independent play, none at all.

Soduthen116 Tue 02-Jun-15 13:57:45

If it helps mine now all teens and older often talk about family holidays or days out, us swimming or going to the park.

They never say 'hey mum why did you stick me in front if the hour long thomas the tank engine video while you dozed in the sofa' grin

Avoid parenting books and mantras too. All are bollocks.

FreeButtonBee Tue 02-Jun-15 13:58:30

Independent play is so important. I love seeing my DTs engrossed in their own little worlds (sometimes together and sometimes individually) with their little imaginations taking off. Sometimes I get down and play with them and sometimes they just need me to give them a little idea to get started and off they go. It's magical and to me, a huge part of childhood and building a really strong internal sense of self.

The fact that it means I can MN in peace obviously has nothing to do with it ;-)

Obviously there is a balance to be had here as with all things. Encourage independence and if they are contentedly playing then don't interfere all the time. Have limits on tv/ipads. Mine know that it's a treat not something they get if they demand or tantrum and they need to behave when they are using it or it gets turned off (which is particularly harsh on the non-misbehaving twin but they quickly learnt the lesson!)

I am naturally quite an introverted person and love nothing more than a bit of silence but I try to do a bit of chatting when out in the buggy/in the car but certainly don't witter on all the time. Music CDs in the car are a godsend here!

Soduthen116 Tue 02-Jun-15 13:59:36

Your temptation to let her play while she's happy is your inner common sense stopping you being a prat. grin

Leave her to play.

ToriaPumpkin Tue 02-Jun-15 14:42:30

I have a 3.5yo and a 13mo and I stay at home. If one of them isn't after my attention the other is. I spend my days answering literally the same question over and over and over again. If I don't get five minutes here and there I find myself getting more and more wound up until I can't be in the same room as someone asking me what I'm doing for the fortieth time that hour.

So no. They're encouraged to play independently, the TV or a film sometimes goes on and I hide in the kitchen when it all gets too much.

Pengweng Tue 02-Jun-15 15:02:03

I have 2yo twins and they tend to prefer playing with each other (or independently) to me anyway.
We do various things throughout the day, making lunch together, play doh, colouring, lego, reading etc but i tend to only "play" with them in short bursts as we all get bored and i have other stuff to do like fb and mumsnet

They are currently playing 'put the babies in their beds, wake up and drink' which involves putting doc mcstuffins, lambie and mummy and daddy turtle in the new cd rack which has yet to be filled back up. The turtles have now woken up for a drink and are playing in the pond (blue foam square). Toddlers are so weird and wonderful when they use their imaginations. lol

So no they are not 100% my focus and even if there was just one i don't think they would be either. Let her play by herself while you have a cuppa

maninawomansworld Tue 02-Jun-15 15:06:07

I have two 2 year olds. I do play with them a fair bit and try to involve them in most of what I do as long as it's age appropriate but giving them constant attention just makes them really clingy and annoying, unable to entertain themselves.

My parents and in laws shower them with love and attention 24/7 when they go to see them and they usually come home very needy. They need to be involved in everything and need everything to revolve around them (in laws are the worst for it). It takes us a day or two to get them back to normal.
A bit of independent play time is healthy - for them and for you.

ShakeTheRoom Tue 02-Jun-15 15:06:16

Dont feel guilty!

Its good for young children to have some time when they are playing alone/alongside you, I think.

We always had Cbeebies time in the afternoon when mine were little. I desperately needed a cuppa and a flick through the paper/quick go on MN by then grin.

I also made good use of story CDs and music while I was cooking, so the DC could let me get on with it for a bit.

HazleNutt Tue 02-Jun-15 15:07:21

No. DS is just as happy to play by himself or to follow me around, trying to copy what I do. I don't want him to expect that I will entertain him all the time, I'm not a fecking clown.

FreeButtonBee Tue 02-Jun-15 15:11:40

God, agree about the inlaws elbowing in all the bleedin' time when they are around. Just let the child play in peace! They don't need a running commentary and endless questions interrupting them.

I did particularly love when my FIL tried to take over something and my DTS said firmly (although not rudely - I don't allow that) "No, MY do it"...

albertcamus Tue 02-Jun-15 15:16:55

I had my DS & DTDs within 2 years ... By the time the twins were 6 months old, I was reading 6 library books per week. I am a v v fast reader, and some were factual so not long, but the library ladies would greet me weekly & seemed to think I must have several nannies ... In fact, I had no help apart from DH in the evening & weekends, and little extended family. It kept me sane ! Don't beat yourself up, you need your own headspace too flowers

NickyEds Tue 02-Jun-15 15:26:54

how much of the day do you spend together interacting with each other?

At the moment? Every. Minute. Of. The. Live. Long. Day. Ds is 17 months so a bit younger and used to be pretty good at playing by himself. Now I have to read That's Not My fucking Tractor over and over. He's great if I actually leave him alone, so I can get a shower whilst he plays in his cot but if I'm in the room then it's showtime. I'm hoping he'll grow out of it.

1wokeuplikethis Tue 02-Jun-15 15:36:56

Ok this is good. This is making me feel a bit better. I am atrocious the way I beat myself up with mum guilt.

I think it's kind of the person I am though. When she was a baby I ebf'd and she used me for comfort and wouldn't take a bottle/dummy so for about ten months I had her on me 24/7; we co-slept too.

I just a feel like I'm being shit if im not giving her my full attention all the time. But at the same time at the back of my head I'm always saying 'this is how you spoil them, she will be spoilt, she's going to be a brat if you carry on' etc etc.

Do you know what else? I don't like doing bath time. There. I said it. It's boring. And I feel guilty because my mum said recently 'oh I love bath time, I do like to see them in the bath (grandchildren) it's such a lovely time of their day' and I thought, why don't I feel like that?! I like doing the story and the cuddles but bath time makes me want to punch myself in the face with boredom confused

I'm 4wks pregnant and just thinking about this stuff because as a pp said, if I continue smothering her she will find it extra difficult when new bambino arrives. And I dread to think how hard I'll be on myself when those days come.

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