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How do you spend time with your young children?

(34 Posts)
Jahan Wed 08-Dec-10 20:03:41

I love my children but I've never really been into children. I care for them greatly and they are well looked after but I've realised that they're growing up fast (5yrs and 3yrs) and I hardly spend any time with them.
I take them out and we have fun but at home I'd rather be doing something else or I prioritise chores. I don't naturally enjoy time with children and find it all tedious and frustrating (please don't shoot me. Its just how I feel)
I know I'll regret it when they're older but I need to learn how to do this.
I want to aim to do one thing with them a day where I just focus on them.
Could someone please give me some tips and ideas of what I should do and how to go about this?

nickytwotimes Wed 08-Dec-10 20:07:05

I know what you mean. smile

i guess as they are close in age they probably amuse each other, between fights?

maybe a bit of baking or a game. ds1 loves Incy WIncy Spider. Or jusy hang out with them and join in the games they iniiate?

waitingsanta Wed 08-Dec-10 22:27:11

I understand too - but I think just getting down on the floor with them and being silly, or reading a book, doing a game or puzzle, even if it is just for 20 minutes means so much to them. You just have to learn to forget about chores and let them take the lead, even if it isn't how you're "supposed" to do things (eg baking cakes that end up being disastrous!) just let it go, as long as they are enjoying themselves. It is hard to make that adjustment between wanting things how you like them and relaxing into their world, but the more you do it the more you will probably find you enjoy your kids and you will all feel much closer to each other.

Meglet Wed 08-Dec-10 22:39:45

I'm usually telling them off or stopping them arguing sad.

However we have had great success with long walks in open spaces, not the park where they want to base jump off everything, we go to the huge common where there are no roads and only nice dogs and they charge off on their own.

Meals out also work well, they are a rare chance for me to chat to them. I take lots of crayons and ask the waiters to bring the food as soon as they can. Home mealtimes are pretty chaotic in comparison.

Cutting out and decorating biscuits went smoothly the other weekend. Use the 123 biscuits on the MN recipe pages, a few cutters, rolling pin each (as long as they won't use them as weapons), baking tray each, once cooked give them a plate of sprinkles, choc drops, icing tube and a small cup of icing each and let them get on with it.

Schnullerbacke Wed 08-Dec-10 22:49:50

I feel for you. My DD always wants me to play with her on the floor with Lego or her animals, bought her a little shop as I used to love it when I was younger but now, urgh, bores me stiff. There are other things we do enjoy however. I always love going out, finding new places so the kids and I love doing that. Geoaching is the magic word - a type of electronic treasure hunting. My Mum doesn't get it at all but we love it. Whenever I don't want to go too far, or am stuck for ideas on where to go, we go treasure hunting. And it gets us out in all sorts of weather where otherwise we might have stayed in.

Other things include jigsaws. DD has a huge collection as its something we both enjoy doing. Or boardgames. Love that and am happy playing with that too. Am crap at drawing but I am also quite happy sitting there with her colouring in things.

So, I guess you just have to find something that you also enjoy and go for it. Going out for meals etc sounds lovely too. See, you are already spending quality time with them there....

Onetoomanycornettos Wed 08-Dec-10 23:55:07

Do what you like doing, and don't play their games on the floor unless you like it. So, I like reading stories, making up silly word games, doing dances to music, and cuddling on the sofa. I don't like playing fantasy games or joining in their games, or playing Monopoly (but I do it every now and again). If you like walking with them in the outdoors and chatting over meals, that's such lovely things to do together. I think you are probably underestimating how nice that time is together, and how boring constantly interacting with two little ones can be at times for everyone (I frequently sit in the same room as them playing but read the newspaper/MN or work).

Jahan Thu 09-Dec-10 09:58:01

Great ideas. Thanks.

We do go out for walks and to the park quite regularly but they just do their own thing and it doesn't really feel like we're spending time together.

I enjoy reading so I've just ordered some Roald Dahl books and I'm going to start reading a bit of that to them every day. Normally we just have a reading book or short books.
I'm also going to make library trips a bit more regular.

I'm also going to look out for games that we can all play together, like buckaroo or something. I know they'll love it.

Another thing I've decided to do is not to put music on in the car for short journeys and just talk instead. My 5 yr old hates talking about school/party/whatever straight after its happened but he's willing to yalk later but sometimes the opportunity doesn't come up.

Simic Thu 09-Dec-10 11:34:51

When we're at the playground it's also usually that they do their own thing. But once I went to the playground with dd (5 years) on her own and I just basically copied her and joined in her games. It was such a different and wonderful experience us taking it in turns to balance along the beams and really play together more like I did with my sister as a child. And it wasn't bad for my fitness either!

Rhian82 Thu 09-Dec-10 11:50:53

I'm in a similar boat - DS is two and I've never been a kids person. A lot of the time it's just enough to be in the room with him as he plays with his trains and sends them on adventures - he likes me repeating what he's saying and asking about what the trains are up to, but I can be tidying or knitting or surfing a lot of the time too.

I also read to him lots - he loves stories and is always bringing me books and asking me to read them to him, so I always stop what I'm doing and make time for that. I also try to plan different activities (I knit, so last weekend we dyed yarn together with Kool Aid which he loved, keeps talking about 'painting wool' now), and get out to the park most days (harder now it's so cold).

knitpicker Thu 09-Dec-10 12:26:51

I find the playing on the floor a bit boring too but I will play Lego under duress, I'm the 'finder' searching through the big box of lego for the bits they need for whatever they're building (killer on the cuticles though). Wordgames and puzzles like X's and O's, sodoku, word search and secret codes - my 5year old would literally play the code game all day and you son't have to get off the couch. I read to my 3 a lot and it's paid off in a big way as my 12yr old and 7 yr old will now go to bed with a bed and read solo, obv I'm still reading to the 5year old - but she's getting there.

fairysparkle67 Thu 09-Dec-10 12:36:07

Knitpicker .... what is the secret code game, I think my DS might like it?

dikkertjedap Thu 09-Dec-10 12:44:00

Making a gingerbread house and decorating it
Playing with play dough, you can make toadstools, little puppets, they make their things and then you can play together with what you have made
taking dolls for a picnic or tea party (can be in the house)
making X-mas decorations with salt bread dough
lots of drawing (not just colouring plates) once they get the hang of it it can keep them busy for ages
games (4 in a row, snakes and ladders, etc)
audio cds whilst they are drawing/playing with lego etc
reading together
making cards together (they will love putting stamps on)
making a hut under the dining table and then islands on the floor with cushions
playing hide and seek
making a scrap book
making pictures with pasta (glue pasta in all kind of shapes on paper)
papier mache (we use newspaper and pva with water, quite messy though, but we have made a lovely dollshouse)
making a 'book' about their favourite toy
'cleaning' together (most children love helping emptying dishwasher, mopping floors, dusting, laying table)

Really there are lots of things, but I think the key is to decide that at a certain time for a certain period you put that time aside to do an activity together and don't worry about chores. We have made a (long) list with possible activities, and choose an activity from that list which we then go and do.

Acinonyx Thu 09-Dec-10 15:02:53

I feel similarly OP. I agree with pp - stick to the things you like best and don't do the stuff which is so achingly tedious you can't bear it. So I do books and board games rather than pretend play princesses/fairies (I import other dc for that). Dh is on official, permanent lego duty.

Going out for a wander and a snack is always a treat for both of us.

sneakapeak Thu 09-Dec-10 15:33:37

I feel so lethargic.

MY 3.5 DS has had me playing pirates and fighting dinosaurs today.


It drains my soul of all it's worth.

I just say to myself, right, it'll be over soon just sit down and eat your pirate supper, throw in a few 'ee me hearty's' then leave pretending you have some pressing engagement in the kitchen. Even 15 minutes can buy you some MN adult time.

I HATE it too.

I have a 1 yr old DD also and with the snow, lack of excercise since she was born, an under active thyroid and general lack of enthusiasm for all things 'pretend'...

>>slump<< >sneak fell asleep

sneakapeak Thu 09-Dec-10 15:36:01

diker c,mon what's your secret hmm? What obvious narcotics give you enthusiasm for that list of activities which would have got a frown out of Joan Rivers?

knitpicker Thu 09-Dec-10 15:38:11

Hi fairysparkle - I hope I can explain it clearly without a diagram.

You draw a table with four columns and five or six rows. One person writes a secret code on a separate piece of paper and hides it. The code can be four numbers in any combination between 1 and 8 eg 5387 or 1632, however you can't have the same number twice eg 5587. The second person has to use the table to guess the code, start on the bottom row and write your guess, one number per column. The first person then marks your guess with * for right number right position, a tick for right number wrong position and an 'x' for wrong number. The second person then guesses again using the second row and so on - until you have the correct code. The object is to work out the code using as few rows as possible.

Clear as mud, no?

Rhian82 Thu 09-Dec-10 15:41:49

Oh it's like Mastermind (the game, not the TV show), with numbers instead of colours!

strandedatseasonsgreetings Thu 09-Dec-10 15:41:58

Hi - my dd's are the same age as yours and we live somewhere where there is not a huge amount to do with children when they are not at school/preschool so have got quite good at finding things to do with them. Crucially, it is finding things that we all do together, including the younger one.

SOme of the games we have which have been successful include Pop Up Pirates. Hungry Harry, Shopping List, Pairs (with a little cheating to help dd2), Snakes and Ladders. Jigsaws are also good - dd2 just getting into them and dd1 likes to help her. I can "assist" as and when necessary.

Otherwise we have: made flags by colouring paper and sticking them to bits of wood; iced cupcakes; hunted sea shells and then made sort of mosaics out of them; made picture frames and then pictures to go inside them. There are lots of ideas out there on the internet.

We also, when really desperate, watch YouTube together - specifically videos of babies and children doing funny things.

ginbob Thu 09-Dec-10 15:48:51

making things is the order of the day in our house really - my dd likes to get bog rolls and stick tissue paper on them and cut out flowers out of pretty paper to decorate it, and calls it father christmas, or a submarine! It is handy having a box of bits like glitter and scraps of card etc, for this purpose. I hate doing the whole role play thing too, but when I do play teachers or shopkeepers or mermaids she absolutely loves it and I don't have to try too hard. It can be so dull and I totally know what you mean. p.s. my house is always a bomb site.

dikkertjedap Thu 09-Dec-10 18:01:04

The way I look at it is that looking after a child is a job (I know that a lot of people may not agree with this ...). So my DH, DD and myself made a list of all potential activities (we made groups, like 'creative', 'role play', 'building things', 'games'(board games, hide and seek, websites), 'outside', and 'other'). We all the time add things to the list, like in 'other' we put also things she wants to find out, like why is the moon sometimes round and sometimes crescent shaped?). We then divide the day in blocks: breakfast, activity, coffee break, activity, lunch, activity, tea break, activity, dinner. Right from the start we also involved dd in tidying up, so when we tidy we have her also tidying (for example after one activity we tidy up before doing something else) she also helps with household tasks and in this way we can get stuff done in the house as well. Also, we alternate activities for which she needs help/activities to be done together with activities she can do on her own (like making a puzzle). In this way, she gets one to one attention but you also have some time to do things yourself. It is tiring, and messy, but at least for us it does work. The first two years I did this, then DH had a career break and did two years and now I am looking after DD again. Although she goes to school now, we still stick to this for Holidays, weekends and when she is ill. We also use it when she has friends to play. To choose an activity we usually let dd/dd and friend choose what she wants to do but make sure that we do a number of quite different things during the day and also during the week, although when she was younger she also spend hours playing with Thomas and building railways. Hope this is any help. I am not saying that it is always easy, but it gives a clear structure both for the children and adults which may help.

BEAUTlFUL Thu 09-Dec-10 18:10:54

i'm so relieved to find this thread. Really. I thought I was the only one who'd rather shave their bikini line with a cheese grater than play with her kids.

I find different things to do with my two boys. The eldest one's 7 and a bit of a gee, so we've had more fun together as he's got older. We are currently playing a lot of Mastermind (the game that came out when I was a kid - DS1 loves it!), chess, Junior Cranium and Playstation games.

He also loves it when we do his homework together. ???

DS2 is so different - he will do one actiity for much longer than DS1 ever did, so we have fun cooking (although, like the poster above said, I have had to let go of my urge to grab the bowl and yell, "NOT LIKE THAT" blush), painting, playing with an old doll's house, and walking through parks.

When I all gets too much, I take them out somewhere, anywhere, or shout "DISCO!" and put my fave song on really loud and dance with them.

But lying on the floor with them, playing made-up games, makes me feel suicidal... Although actually, when I do condescend to it, it's actually OK.

snowflake69 Thu 09-Dec-10 18:11:55

I agree with dikker there is so much to do with kids thats fun. You are bound to like something be it creative, outdoors, role play etc. Do things in your favourite area. Look up resources online, go to groups and get ideas from your own childhood. I work in a nursery and thats where I get the ideas for work and to do with my own child.

also sneakapeek - no need for narcotics get a red bull down you and you will be bouncing off the walls like a practiced kids presenter. (thats my secret anyway wink )

BEAUTlFUL Thu 09-Dec-10 18:12:20


BEAUTlFUL Thu 09-Dec-10 18:13:15

My geek was not directed at you, snowflake! I was correctly my bad typing in my above post blush

piprabbit Thu 09-Dec-10 18:15:06

Today DS (2yo) made a train out of the kitchen chairs.

He sat up front and was driver, I was relegated to the middle seat. I was not allowed to contribute any noises or actions (except to occasionally say "My, you are going really fast DS" in an admiring voice.

We played this for two hours on and off. DS had a wonderful time - I got to sit down grin.

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