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Do you stress about finding things to occupy your Only?!

(27 Posts)
1972bird Sat 21-Jun-14 16:35:44

My husband works away a lot of the time, and we've got no family about, so it's just the two of us (me and DD, who's 11) a lot of the time. We always find things to do in the evenings and weekends, even if it's mundane stuff like going to a supermarket, we make a trip out of it - but I find it a real stress, a weight, to be the one to think about filling my day and hers. I know it isn't healthy - everyone gets bored and it's nothing to do with being an only - and I know that if she had siblings, she'd spend some time being entertained by them, but plenty of time arguing with them too! Really I just wondered whether anyone else felt the weight of being solely responsible for filling up days that seem to stretch long ahead of them, or whether it's just me. In fact, I'm really hoping that someone else does feel this way, so that I know I'm not the only one - anxiety loves company, etc!



1972bird Sat 21-Jun-14 16:39:43

I should her age, she's getting far more independent, and a lot of the time friends will knock for her and she'll go out and about, and I'll have worried and stressed for nothing! Old habits die hard, I guess....!

LalaLeona Sat 21-Jun-14 20:22:14

Oh gosh I know exactly what you mean! I find exhausting at's like we're constantly out and about, with no time to sit and relax. I also feel under pressure to be socialising with families with kids so she has someone to olay with. My husband also works away a lot and I feel it particularly keenly then. I don't have any advice really, just wanted to sympathise! Boredom is good for kids yes, but IMO it's a lot more beneficial if they are with other kids, and if my daughter doesn't have anyone around to play with we tend to be busy like you.

CateBlanket Thu 26-Jun-14 21:04:50

grin at anxiety loves company!

You need to leave her be. I'm far too lazy to keep my DD (an only) occupied so she's learnt how to amuse herself and it's a very valuable life skill. She'll read, write in her diary, practise gymnastics, watch a DVD or two or 10 go on my iPad, stare at her reflection in the mirror ...

LalaLeona Fri 27-Jun-14 08:45:06

I need to learn to be more like you cateblanket sad

CateBlanket Fri 27-Jun-14 17:12:37

No need for sad face, LalaLeona, I bet you have a very content DD. I think us mums of onlies sometimes think we have to "compensate" for them not having playmates on tap. However, time and idleness has shown me that most kids flourish with a balance of socialising, spending time with parents and being left to their own devices. DD is 9 now but when she was much younger I used to always be dragging her out but came to realise how happy she is just hanging out at home most of the time smile

LizLemon Fri 27-Jun-14 17:20:39

Finding this reassuring - my son is almost 5, and I've spent the day pretending to be an octonaut, and thinking how it would be better for him if he had a sibling to boss around instead of me. We see friends a lot, and he has lots of friends at pre-school, but sometimes when we have a free day I panic that I've done a terrible thing stopping at one.

I should add that I was an only until I was 12, and never felt the lack of a sibling, so I have no idea why it bothers me.

Takver Fri 27-Jun-14 20:37:45

Make the most of it while it lasts - my dd is 12 & in yr 7, and if she can't be out with her friends then she wants to be messaging them or otherwise in constant communication.

I have to say looking around at dd's friends with younger siblings, I'm not convinced that their parents have an easier time . . . grin

Takver Fri 27-Jun-14 20:40:45

I'm definitely with CateBlanket - it's not my job to entertain dd, remember the quote 'a bored person is a boring person' (Aunt Dymphna in the Growing Summer by Noel Streatfeild IIRC) and use it if needed!

MilestoneMum Sat 28-Jun-14 23:00:14

I feel the same as you OP. DD is 5 and I long for a day when I can just chill and do my own thing.

Earlybird Sun 29-Jun-14 00:03:06

do any of you have general ground rules about how much telly/computer time is allowed on weekends and during the school holidays? When they're bored, that seems to be the first activity of choice.

I don't mind some of that, but don't want hours a day. At least, not every day.....

Jinsei Sun 29-Jun-14 00:12:18

I have an only, but I've never felt under pressure to entertain her. Was I supposed to? confused

DD is 9, and is more than capable of entertaining herself! She reads, she writes stories, she plays with sylvanians, she makes stuff. Sometimes she goes to the park with her friends, or they play at each other's houses. Recently she has been obsessed with loom bands. Occasionally, she plays on her ds or on the wii, but not very often.

I had a sister but I quite often played by myself growing up. I used to like it. I don't think it's necessary for kids to have company all the time, and it's good for them to get bored every now and then.

CateBlanket Sun 29-Jun-14 17:15:31

Early bird - yes, the Tv goes on when I say so and off at my command! So long as she's having a balance of screen, sports, playing out, reading, occupying herself (another loom band fan!) then we're both happy.

CateBlanket Sun 29-Jun-14 20:52:02

^^ that sounds horribly smug and virtuous blush

Obviously she doesn't manage to meet all those requirements in one day! We just aim for all things in moderation but some days she watches a lot of TV and DVDs grin

LalaLeona Mon 30-Jun-14 20:18:28

Yep I limit the TV, if I let her she would watch several Harry potter DVDs back to back! I don't mind an hour or two at the weekend. My daughter also likes loom bands, also we play some board games, she does writing and drawing, reading etc. however I also find TV is the 'go to' activity, so I kind of encourage other stuff without being too controlling I hope!! It's not that I feel like I am 'supposed to' entertain her all the time it's like I feel like I have to, even though I know it's silly. Dh is much more chilled and just leaves her to it, so it's all in my head..need to relax more I think.

tiggerkid Wed 23-Jul-14 17:32:16

I have a lot of anxiety on a similar topic. We have no relatives or friends with kids of similar age to my son nearby. We also live in a village and my son takes a school bus to his, now secondary, school as there are no secondaries in our village. This means that none of his classmates live nearby. We had some play dates but, unfortunately, this meant some parents offering to pick up my son and us driving him back (and vice versa) because most of his classmates live miles away. That makes it impractical for us to arrange something on a regular basis.

Because I made what I now see as a stupid decision or choice not to have another baby earlier on and, at present, we struggle to conceive another, I am constantly guilt ridden when I see my that my son is so lonely and bored sometimes. He does have our company but I am sure that sometimes he'd rather have the company of his friends. So, I definitely do understand how you feel. sad

CateBlanket Thu 24-Jul-14 01:45:26

Tiggerkid - would it be practical to move nearer to his school? Are there any afterschool clubs he could join? My DD does a team sport at the weekend, would that be an option for your son?

Thirdtimearound Mon 28-Jul-14 19:24:57

I see the majority of these posts are daughters. So much you can do together as mum and daughter. I have a DS 12 and I wondered if there's any ideas for keeping him busy. We are a little remote, his mates from school live miles away 20 odd miles in some cases.we do cinema but all he does is cross cross tween PC, TV and mobile. I stress cos it can't be healthy all that screen time ��

CateBlanket Mon 28-Jul-14 19:40:15

Third - what about sport? DD takes part in a team sport which takes up a big chunk of Saturdays. You and DS could have tennis lessons together, archery, golf. What about camping? Any chance of you moving closer to his friends?

Misfitless Tue 29-Jul-14 19:55:07

Third what about joining a local nature group - there are plenty of things like that round here, but not sure if it's the same nationwide.

Some sort of Sea Cadets/ Army Cadets/ Scouts type organisation.

Is it just stuff you can do together you're after, or things he can do to make local friends? If the latter, ignore my advice.

Although my DNephew isn't an only, he never really had any interests other than computer games until he joined Army Cadets. You don't want to have to be in the army, either, he doesn't.

He's made so many friends, and has gone from being a real loner (not saying your DS is,) to going away for weekends, and camping for weeks at a time.

He was about the same age as your DS when he joined, maybe 13/14 ish.

Thirdtimearound Wed 30-Jul-14 03:00:34

Hadn't thought of the cadet route, that would be right up his street and encourage him to make some home friends too. He doesn't want to do stuff with me anymore, getting too old for that lol!

The sport he does loads at school but you can't find a club interested in giving any play time cos they know he won't be around for every practise and match during term time, school a distance and also has Saturdsy morning school which is compulsory! . Presumably cadets you dip on and out when you can get there.

Thanks for all suggestions ��

Darkandstormynight Fri 01-Aug-14 14:13:27

YES! I have a 12 year old ds and I go through exactly that. Summers are hard, as are evenings when dh is away. Dh and ds do lots together too, that I'm not into (engineering stuff!) so yes many times I am at a loss! You are not alone.

springchickennolonger Sun 03-Aug-14 16:13:47

So glad I came across this thread, as I wss going to post something in the same vein. Op I know exactly what you mean. I have an only dd, 12, whom I feel guilty about. I have no family and dp works away a lot. They do things together when he's around, but most of the time it's just me and dd. She's relentlessly energetic and sociable but not particularly popular. She seems content enough, but constantly craves company of her friends, who don't seem to crave her quite so much! I dtead the holidays and weekends as I feel anxious if she's not occupied.

School days are much easier.

I constantly feel that I am somehow responsible for her social life and that I am failing her if there's no-one better than me around for her. If we go away a friend always comes for her too.

I think I'm maybe overreacting though, as she seems contented enough.

In some ways it was easier when she wss little as I could arrange her life for her.

Lagoonablue Fri 08-Aug-14 07:42:05

Was going to post on these lines. My friend has only one, a 9yr old. Not by choice, fertility issues.

She dreads the holidays. Her and her DH spend a lot of money planning a full holiday itinerary. Football camps, tennis lessons, play schemes etc. He has something on every day. I was with them this weekend and both parents were stressing about the fact cricket camp had been cancelled and they had nothing planned. I did say 'what's the worst that will happen if there is no activity planned,? They said he would get bored. Is that such a bad thing once in a while?

I have 2 but they often just have to fall in with what I am or whatever. They don't like it but I can't arrange expensive activities everyday. We do our fair share of free stuff too though.

Not sure what point I am making but I suppose I am wondering how to help my friend.

springchickennolonger Wed 13-Aug-14 21:06:10

Lagoona perhaps your friends are anxious about the fact that their ds has no company? I kind of know how they feel. I have friends with 2 and they are not remotely bothered about entertaining them because they have each other (even if they don't get on). I agree with you about the boredom thing, though-a bit of boredom does no harm imo and may lead to a spurt of creativity even!

Having said that I think there is a tendency to think that boredom is somehow undesirable for kids (this seems to extend to school, even) and that dcs' needs somehow have to be met. To be fair, your friends seem to be following popular parenting culture and feel they are acting in the best interests of the child.

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