To think we should occasionally be able to spend a relaxing morning home with kids without constantly entertaining them?

(94 Posts)
ToShelAndBack Sun 30-Oct-16 13:01:10

I live with DH, DS1 (age 6.5), and DS2 (age 3). DH works long hours and I'm currently a SAHM. During the week the kids are busy with school, activities, and homework for DS1 -- if feels like we're always running around.

So far this has been a pretty typical weekend for us: yesterday we were out with friends and did some Halloween stuff with our neighbors. Today the kids woke up around 7 and we let them have some iPad time -- probably too much, about 2-3 hours, more or less, so DH and I could sleep in. They each had a breakfast bar early and then DH got up and made them proper breakfast, which was eaten while watching a show on the iPad. When it was time to turn off the screens, there was much whining and protesting, to the point where I had to pull it out of DS2's hands. We then sat down as a family and carved pumpkins, cooked the seeds, and put up some Halloween decorations. DH cleaned up from that while I did some homework with DS1 and played a bit with DS2. Then DH needed to do a bit of work and I had to do some house stuff, so we told the kids they needed to play on their own. If it matters, we have a nice (enough) home with space to play, a decent-sized garden and tonnes of books, toys, games, Lego, craft stuff, etc.

This all sounds perfectly fine, right? But it's not. This whole morning has been a NIGHTMARE. The kids (especially DS1) have done nothing but whine, complain, fighy, talk back, and generally behave miserably. And this is not unusual -- it's always like this on weekends unless we have a specific activity planned. They have plenty of days out, weekends away, birthday parties, play dates, trips to the playground, swimming, etc. But why can't we spend a relaxing weekend morning at home without entertaining them every second? Today is particularly long bc of the time change, but it's always like this. Today DH finally caved and took them to the local playground but they were back in 15 minutes because they were so miserable there.

Both kids are the issue, but DS1 in particular has always been virtually unable to entertain himself alone at home. That was understandable when he was smaller, but now he is almost 7. He will occasionally play with Lego or do a craft but even then he comes to us every 3 minutes to show us what he's done. Even when he's playing with his brother he constantly comes and reports every little thing they are doing. The ONLY thing that keeps him occupied is TV or iPad, but we're not willing to just let him do that for hours on end. To be fair, we moved last year and he has made nice friends, but not as many as he had before and they don't seem to be around much on weekends. But we really do keep him pretty busy.

DH thinks we bring it on ourselves because we know they will be like this at home and we try it anyway. He thinks we should schedule them in more weekend activities. But I think they have enough activities and we are catering to them by entertaining them every minute, and maybe they just have to learn how to be at home. But in the meantime it's misery for everyone.

What are we doing wrong? Should we be scheduling them in a million activities so they have no downtime? Should we just let them rot in front of screens all day? Or AIBU to expect an occasional relaxing morning/day at home with the kids?

NavyandWhite Sun 30-Oct-16 13:24:03

Give them the iPad when you're up and about and want some peace?

d270r0 Sun 30-Oct-16 13:27:08

Ha ha ha
Nope pretty standard.
We look forward to evening when they're in bed (ds's 5 and 2)

TheDivineMrsCampbellBlack Sun 30-Oct-16 13:29:47

I'd allow screen time if you want to read the paper or whatever

whirlygirly Sun 30-Oct-16 13:34:55

I'd go the opposite way and take the screens off them. I find my two far worse if they're allowed them, even for a little while. It's hell for a day or two but they will find other ways of keeping entertained. I think it's important kids learn how to play, not just go from one screen to the next.

It's a bit scary how dependent we all are on this stuff - yes I appreciate the irony of me posting that on here..

SaucyJack Sun 30-Oct-16 13:35:57

This is the problem with modern day kids. I blame schools and nurseries for being too good at pretending anyone's interested in any of the drivel they come out with.

BigPointyStick Sun 30-Oct-16 13:38:20

If you constantly provide them with activities how will they learn to cure their own boredom.

Squirmy65ghyg Sun 30-Oct-16 13:39:29

Can you not just get on with task x instead of saying it out loud and making a thing of it? Or have the telly on instead of ipad? They might play with tips with some background noise.

SpookyPotato Sun 30-Oct-16 13:40:46

It sounds hard OP. I wouldn't schedule more activities as they'll grow up always being bored and not knowing how to entertain themselves.. You also need time to just be able to relax. I just leave my toddler to it a lot and he can play for ages, we don't do loads during the week either which helps. Could you list all the things you do during an average week? When I was young my parents did a few things with me during the week, then on weekends a few things together but mostly I was outside entertaining myself and checking in with them every so often. Or playing inside or watching films. This was ideal as they could get on with things! I would try and persevere and get them used to it, or encourage the older one to make some local friends.

Stormwhale Sun 30-Oct-16 13:43:38

The screens are the issue. They provide huge entertainment with no effort and children lose the ability to make up games and create their own entertainment. They want it handed to them like the screens do, or like you do when you provide an activity.

I'm not judging, my dd has the same issue. She watches too much tv and unless the tv is off and im busy, she will not play by herself. Im trying to tackle it at the minute. Less screen time and gentle pushing towards imagination play and other activities.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Sun 30-Oct-16 13:44:16

How long did you want the DCs to entertain themselves quietly for?

If you are asking them to play Lego (for example) for 20 minutes without pestering you, then YANBU. If you expect them to sit & play without disturbing you for an hour or more then you are being incredibly unrealistic.

DD is 5 and will happily sit and draw or colour for up to an hour at a time. Neither of her older brothers would have done the same at that age however!

If the iPad keeps them quiet and you want quiet, then give them the iPad for longer.

As an aside, you said you gave both boys the iPad so that you & DH could lie in. Does that mean you had a 3 year old wide awake and unsupervised for a couple of hours? Or did you not actually go back to sleep?

neonrainbow Sun 30-Oct-16 13:46:01

grin saucyjack!

Do you normally cave in and give them their ipads if they whine enough?

Its vital for kids to learn to occupy themselves.

witsender Sun 30-Oct-16 13:51:10

Do you have toys? A garden? Craft stuff? I would say that they should be able to enter themselves, or should be encouraged to for sure.

itlypocerka Sun 30-Oct-16 13:52:17

Having the screens first thing makes the whining inevitable. No screens until xyz has happened can help give some limits to how long they need to entertain themselves for which may help.

queenMab99 Sun 30-Oct-16 13:54:02

I find that you have to set them off with something, give a bit of input for any creative play, help them start setting up a railway set or show them how to print with sponges etc. then they will play for 15/20 minutes or so, but you have to keep going back to sort things out/ keep them going /or start another activity. I agree that too much screen time seems to make them unable to entertain themselves, and behaviour improves when this is limited.

NipSlipper Sun 30-Oct-16 13:58:36

I agree that having the screens first thing will sap all their ability to entertain themselves for the day. I'd set up things they can do in their rooms - little projects, especially for the older one - until you get up. THEN they can have the screens 9and you can have a coffee and read the paper). Also - no offence, but three hours on an iPad for a 3 yr old is WAY too long. His brain is just developing.

I'm not judging., btw. Its more 'wise words from a parent of older DC'.
My DS is an horrendous screen addict and completely unable to entertain himself constructively even at 11 years old. I wish I hadn't relied on the electronic babysitter at such a young age (he was about 6 when the habit started).

DD (7) wasn't given screens so much and is so much better at being able to entertain herself, and can self-regulate when she does get a screen in front of her. She gets bored of staring at a screen after an hour and will take herself off to draw, read, set up an imaginary game etc.

ChuckGravestones Sun 30-Oct-16 14:03:44

Anyone complaining of boredom in this house gets a list of chores to do.

OhWotIsItThisTime Sun 30-Oct-16 14:05:27

Ds1 could only entertain himself from age 7. So Lego or reading. Ds2 could do it from about 3.

Do screens at set times and not for too long. If they whinge they're bored, make suggestions but leave them to it. You can't entertain them constantly. But it does get easier as they get older.

Olympiathequeen Sun 30-Oct-16 14:09:04

Have you never heard of benign neglect. Works great!

Jellymuffin Sun 30-Oct-16 14:11:11

Hang on, you had 3 hours! You chose to sleep during that time but they did entertain themselves. Could you not do the house work when they're at school/nursery? Surely the weekends are for spending time together?

FixItUpChappie Sun 30-Oct-16 14:13:22

My boys are the same age (3.5 and just turned 6). They got up this am at 6:45am and went off to play together with their toys. My DH is snoring away while I keep an ear out and Mumsnet smile Pretty much from the onset we had a rule that the tv would NOT go on until later in the morning because we found they wouldn't cuddle, read in bed with us or play - just ask for tv to be on straight away. So ours are accustomed to toy play in the am and usually (arguing aside) they get absorbed in that for a few hrs. Then the tv goes on for a bit when we get up while we make breakfast and again later in the day if tempers are frayed. That doesn't mean they don't pop in and out of our room though, but I'm inclined to think that's reasonable.

We are fortunate in that our boys are best buddies (again aside from excessive bouts of mind numbing arguing) and occupy each other very well - we are finding things have really eased up in terms of us adults being constantly "on" this past 6 months or so.

MissClarke86 Sun 30-Oct-16 14:15:59

This always baffles me because I teach and when we have toy days and the like at school, children's will literally entertain themselves all day with no screens. Maybe it should because they know the option isn't there? Or maybe it's just because it's a bit different?

Maybe you just need to be firmer, what happens if you just keep repeating "No, it's time to play alone. I will come and see in XX minutes"? If they tantrum and create, can you just ignore them? It's becoming learnt behaviour if they know they will create a fuss and get taken out.

MaudlinNamechange Sun 30-Oct-16 14:19:16

Don't schedule more stuff. They need to learn to use their time, not to have even more of it taken away by organised things and screens.

Mine (7 and 5) get very whingey when they have had too much screen time. I ban it for a bit, and I tell them why (though I blame myself - I tell them "I've let you watch too much TV and it is making you miserable and grumpy"). They whine for a bit and then they remember all their toys and other interests.

Gottagetmoving Sun 30-Oct-16 14:19:44

When I was a child I don't remember my parents providing much entertainment indoors for my brother and me. Helping my mum bake sometimes was about it. Rarely my dad would take us for a walk or in summer play cricket or a game with us on the field.
I was never bored. We played with toys or made up games.
I think if you have always entertained kids from a young age they don't learn how to entertain themselves.
Give them empty boxes to play with..Most kids prefer those to toys. grin

NavyandWhite Sun 30-Oct-16 14:20:42

Tbf OP they were on their iPads from 7 till 10 this morning. That's a long time. They need some kind of fresh air and letting of steam. From experience I've found that the more screen time ds (10) has the more grumpy, lethargic and irritable he is. I try and get him outside for periods of time during the weekend ie walking the dogs with me or getting him to help DH in the garden or out on a bike ride.

Limit their screen time would be my advice.

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