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I've realised I don't 'do' anything with dd

(54 Posts)
slowlycatchymonkey Tue 22-Jan-13 22:09:44

My dd is 5 and I've kinda realised that while she is kept busy with activities and play dates, I don't actually get involved and I feel really guilty about it.

I've never been great at playing - I find it boring blush and i always find a way of getting out if it. She does 3 fun activities a week, and sees friends 2-3 times a week at either our house or theirs, but again, I avoid sitting down to 'play' and let them get on with it. DD asks me to play a lot - she is an only child and not remotely interested in entertaining herself, so will watch telly or use the iPad instead. I never take her swimming cos I hate it, and if we go to soft play I usually try to bring a friend if hers to play with so I can avoid having to do it. God, I sound awful don't I? I care deeply that she has plenty of opps to socialise etc but I seem to 'set it up', rather than get stuck in myself. Her dad and I have been split for years and he's the opposite of me- they do bike rides, swim etc, but this just isn't me.
I read to her every night and we talk a lot, but that's it.
How can I change? I'm terrified that she will have crap memories of me when she's older :/

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 22-Jan-13 22:15:27

She probably won't have crap memories but she could be like me and just have no memories of my mum until I'm much older.

Could you start small? Spend 15 mins playing a board game or bake a cake? Sometimes I bake fairy cakes when mine are at school and we decorate them together when they're home, that takes about 15 mins with her.

Hw are you In yourself?

TheJanuaryProject Tue 22-Jan-13 22:26:29

I'm crap at playing with DS (who's 4 1/2 and an only) and DH is loads better at it than me. I don't think there's much wrong with leaving her to socialise with her friends at soft play, but it's worth trying to cut down on tv/iPad.

Rather than 'playing' what things would you enjoy doing with her? I do a lot of baking, crafty stuff and 'educational' stuff (looking at books like usborne 'see inside' and 'beginners' books and talking about what's in them).

You say she's not interested in entertaining herself - can you turn the tv off and encourage her to play with toys? I'm lucky in that DS likes imaginative role play so will play and make up stories with playmobil etc.

DS likes doing magic shows and puppet shows for me - does she have toys like that?

DoubleYew Tue 22-Jan-13 22:32:26

I find it boring too but I think its worth it as ds likes it. Even 5 or 10 mins a day will help assuage (sp?) the guilt. Let her pick what to play.

Spockster Tue 22-Jan-13 22:37:50

I am just the same, bored rigid by playing and can't help wandering off to do something more interesting. Let her get a bit bored and she will learn to play alone. I had DD2 mainly to entertain DD1!

slowlycatchymonkey Tue 22-Jan-13 23:11:33

Thanks so much for the replies everyone!

Every single week in life she comes back from dads saying they'd just done a hike/visited a museum/nature trail or some other amazing family day out and it just makes me feel crap, but obviously not enough eh?
I do bake occasionally with her, and yesterday for example I discouraged her from just watching tv and made her do something at the table. She chose to do 'bendyroos' which is a craft thing, but did I get involved? Nope. I sat beside her and she needed my help every now and then, but I tend to just play on my phone. I fully admit to being kind of addicted to my phone and will spend hours on it doing all sorts ( not good I know)

I make sure she is kept busy, ie does dancing and brownies etc. It's just that I am completely crap at actually doing things with her, rather than alongside her. I am definitely going to try and sort this out. I am even the same on holiday, will generally read a book while she builds sandcastles and although she will ask me to join in, I'll fob her off. :/

slowlycatchymonkey Tue 22-Jan-13 23:20:53

Reading that back, I sound awful:/ I hope you don't think she is ignored. We talk loads, always dancing to the radio etc, but I accept it isn't enough.

To answer questions about the puppet show, her friend has one and they play it all the time at her house, so that's a good idea.
How am I in myself? Up and down, I've always struggled to motherhood in the way I thought I would to be honest and don't think it came naturally to me. I feel irritable more than I'd admit and tend to think things feel harder than they are in reality. I am so grateful for dd in spite of my feelings because she is so lovely. She seems so happy but I have a tendency to psychoanalyse everything, hence my worry that she will be affected by my apathy in spending quality time with her.

Alligatorpie Wed 23-Jan-13 06:45:43

Every day when my dd comes home from school, we play a board game or do a puzzle or craft or colour or something, it gives me a chance to hear about her day and it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours.

coldcupoftea Wed 23-Jan-13 06:51:35

It is hard sometimes... 5 is the perfect age to start playing simple board games like snakes and ladders etc, and it helps her practise her maths too. With my DD we do reading, baking (occasionally) and she loves drawing/writing, though she will often do that at the table while I potter around doing other things and help occasionally.

Do you have a Wii? You could play games together, my DD loves tennis and just dance.

treetrunkthighs Wed 23-Jan-13 06:55:40

Your posts are all ringing bells with me. Especially the phone bit. Even when I'm doing her bath I'm on some app or other passing the time. It's pretty anti-social isn't it?

I am going to put my phone out of sight for half an hour after school tonight and do whatever dd2 (5yo like yours) wants.

She will want to play games and I am going to try and give her my full attention for that 30 minutes.

Do you fancy trying the same? smile

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Wed 23-Jan-13 07:03:20

I don't really do the getting-down-on-the-floor-and-playing thing. What I do do (two boys, 5 and 7) is:
- take them to playgrounds, out to parks to run around, natural spaces
- days out e.g. museums, nature parks
- take them to the library
- baking, science experiments
- reading, always have done lots
- listening to and talking about music, dancing
- talking as we walk along (I do all school etc. runs on foot)
- if they start playing their own imagination game I'm happy to get involved
- craft stuff when I can motivate them, e.g. we made baubles before Christmas
- occasional board games - I think I will enjoy this more as they get older

I don't think doing stuff 'alongside' as opposed to 'with' is necessarily all bad - if you are prepared to talk/engage during that, which it sounds as if you are, then some very special moments can arise that way.

To be very honest, though, I think you have to nip the phone thing in the bud. You're setting her a terrible example (I'll be honest and say that I hate seeing adults absorbed in their phones - teens I can kind of grudgingly understand it) and I think it does give a certain message in terms of your attention and priorities, yes. I'll admit to mumsnetting on occasion while my children are having a snack at the kitchen table, say (I work from home and my laptop is usually set up on the table in the week) but I do feel bad when I do it.

I don't mean to sound harsh - i think it's no bad thing that she doesn't have your undivided attention all the time, as I don't think children should grow up believing their parents are their personal entertainers. OTOH I think you know that the situation isn't ideal, hence posting here. But fortunately it's quite an easy one to fix. Good luck smile

TheJanuaryProject Wed 23-Jan-13 07:05:13

Don't beat yourself up OP. You don't sound awful - 'playing' with a 5 year old is something lots of people find a bit dull.

Good suggestions on here about how to engage with her more. It's not about competing with her dad. My DS gets loads of days out, but most of all he just loves my attention. He has the best time on my days off when it's just the two of us and I make myself do lots of stuff with him (and hide my phone from myself wink)

phoenixrose314 Wed 23-Jan-13 07:42:29

Hi OP. I'm probably your worst nightmare - a primary school teacher! I currently teach in nursery, but prior to this I taught 5-6 year olds.

I know playing with a 5yo can be very dull, but it is unbelievably beneficial to them to have that kind of interaction with you. Like other posters have said, even 5 to 10 minutes of your time is all it takes to make a difference! You are your child's main role model in life, her main teacher, and children learn so much more from their parents than they could ever learn in school or play groups. "Playing" is a child's way of beginning to form their social interactions and practising their life skills - watching you perform these actions helps them see how to do it correctly... Parents do it all the time for manners, saying please and thank you, etc. - so why not for play too?

Sometimes I think parents find it daunting trying to remember how to play, whilst trying to remain in the role of parent. Some fun activities that they could need your help with could start the ball rolling for you and your DD.

How about:
- Baking. As other posters have said, it doesnt take long, and the amount of learning you can get from it is phenomenal! Measuring, discussing texture and scent of ingredients, the health and safety of using dangerous equipment in the kitchen... and of course you get to eat the delicious result!
- Painting or drawing. Do this alongside your child. Watching you do it will give them guidelines for how to use pencils/crayons/paint, and can open up some lovely discussions about colour.
- Washing up liquid in a bowl and a straw. You'd be AMAZED how entertaining this can be. Both of you blow into the bowl, see who can make the most bubbles! You can then play with the bubbles too.
- Read a book. Cannot emphasise enough how important this one is!! Take your DD to your local library and let her choose an appropriate book (you may need to point her in the direction of a good picture book). Let her tell you what's happening in the picture, what might happen next, etc. as you read the story with her.
- Den Making. Always a HUGE hit with the kids! Use furniture and sheets in your house to build her a makeshift den/hidey-hole. Let her decide what it is (a castle? a house?) and discuss what else she needs to put in it. This is a great one for initiating with her and then letting her continue to play alone.

Those are just a few of the better ideas, I hope some are useful and don't sound too difficult as a starting point? I like to use this website when I want to find something new/different to do with the children at nursery, have a look and see if there's anything there you fancy doing with her.

I really hope you manage to put the phone aside and enjoy some fun play time with your DD! Good luck! smile

5dcsinneedofacleaner Wed 23-Jan-13 12:35:52

I dont do art and craft etc with my children. I tend to spend time with them in other ways (not organized activities) for example we go for weekends away/camping or more regularly we do things like play multiplayer games on ds! (since we all have one - even me!) or just chat and get on with the day together. I dont think you HAVE to spend a certain amount of time a day with them its more about being able to make an everyday activity like making dinner or the walk from school or sorting the bedroom into a chat and a relaxed time rather than a chore they are sent to do alone imo.

slowlycatchymonkey Wed 23-Jan-13 13:32:25

Thanks everyone.

I am going to start by banning my phone when I'm with dd and also taking her swimming every week ( even though I HATE swimming!)

She has lots of craft materials and amazing toys which she mostly ignores and I suspect this is my fault because she doesn't want to play alone. As I said, I pay and take her to 3 activities per week, so she isn't deprived, but in terms of one to one play with me- she is. Thanks for the list of things I can do with her. Hopefully I can sort it out

familyfun Wed 23-Jan-13 13:42:15

can i also add that i take dd to an activity weekly and always keep half an eye on her and make sure i give her a thumbs up if she glances over at me, its amazing how many moms/dads sit glued to their phones oblivious to their dc looking over proud of themselves and looking away disheartened.
saw a man on the dodgems with his dc, he was texting, dc looked bored.
you are telling your child they are boring.
please put the phone away sometimes

lagoonhaze Wed 23-Jan-13 14:51:35

thank you for your honest post. Certainly given me food for thought too and some creative ideas.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 23-Jan-13 15:01:48

Agree with family. When I take mine to swimming lessons, I'm always surprised by the amount of parents who are on phones or tablets, some even stay down the other end of the pool out of sight. The odd thumbs up really makes them beam.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 23-Jan-13 15:04:17

Op have you thought about talking to your GP? You sound a little down and something like CBT might help you think more positively smile

zcos Wed 23-Jan-13 15:25:21

I think I will be the opposite I'm willing my child to grow up so I can play with her but that's because I am a big kid myself... I do worry quite a lot about the other mummy stuff setting boundaries a daily routine keeping house tidy DD is only a baby but am already thinking of this all the time! as I overthink things far too much to! reason for me posting this was just to say that all mothers can't be good at absolutely everything!
think banning phone would be good for a lot of us. but when spring comes why not look at what's on in local area something you are interested in so you both can be rather than taking her to something you don't like? if its fun and something she hasn't done before she will think your fab. then you could have her draw a picture of your day together?

BornToFolk Wed 23-Jan-13 15:29:39

I am going to start by banning my phone when I'm with dd and also taking her swimming every week ( even though I HATE swimming!)

Can't you find something that you both like doing? If you are doing it grudgingly and clock watching while you are there, it's not going to be much fun for either of you.

DS is 5 and I'm a single parent too. And I work 5 days a week too. I feel guilty as I seem to spend all the time saying "in a minute!" when he asks me to play when I'm doing housework or rushing DS from one thing to the next etc and all his dad has to do when he has contact is spend time with him!

Anyway,try and find something that you both like. Me and DS have fun gardening together (can't wait for the spring!) We both really like board and card games so play a lot of those. Imaginative play drives me insane but it's important for DS so I do force myself to play Lego etc too.

My favourite hobby is knitting so I'm trying to teach DS how to knit. And I quite got into Stargazing Live when it was on recently. It was too late for DS to watch but I talked to him about what I'd seen and got him a book about space out of the library and we read that together. I like trying to involve him in things that I'm interested in.

I think you are being too hard on yourself really. If you are reading and talking to her and providing her with lots of social activities, then you are doing lots of things already! Doing things alongside her is great, I think. Quite often DS will sit and do some colouring or Hama beads while I iron or something and that's quite good as we can chat and I can admire what he's doing.

We also always sit down to eat together at the table, even breakfast and books/phones/games are banned at the table so we chat then.

Lottapianos Wed 23-Jan-13 15:45:14

phoenixrose314 has given you lots of great ideas. The most important thing when playing is to let the child take the lead - let her be in control and try to be her 'play partner' instead of parent at those times. You will get much more out of her and she will love it.

Ditch the phone, switch off the TV/radio when you're with her. Reduce the time she spends in front of a screen. She needs you to make this happen for her - she will get so much out of it and you will be helping her to develop in so many ways. Have fun!

slowlycatchymonkey Wed 23-Jan-13 17:53:10

Thanks so much everyone. It really helps. I have actually been to my GP this week as I'm struggling to sleep. For some reason dd is regressing in her sleeping patterns and can be up 3 times a night, although that's not the only reason I cant sleep tbh. I have a stressful job and a difficult ex, so it's always on my mind. Ive been given sleeping tablets but I don't if I'll take them. The thing about me is I always feel irritable and I hate that about myself because it never used to be this way. I don't feel down- I just feel really annoyed all the time. Like a low-level simmering anger that just sits there in my throatsad

I definitely hear you all on the phone front. It's like an escape for me but it's ridiculous how much I use it and it's stopping. This weekend dd and I are going to the library. I never take her there - ever. We read a lot ( currently reading Eloise, we love it!) but i think she would love the library. I'll also take her swimming because she loves it and its about her. When she does her activities this weekend I'm going to stay for them. Most of all, when we go on holiday at half term (skiing!) I am going to build snow men with her and pull her round in a sledge all weeksmile

Slipsliding Wed 23-Jan-13 18:55:40

I think you sound great! You're facillitating your dds independence and giving her loads of opportunities to develop her interests. Stop being so hard on yourself. As a former single parent I know how hard it is to keep it together. Plus you sound like you have a good relationship with your ex - that's sooo important for your dd's security.

PhylisStein Wed 23-Jan-13 20:22:48

My DD used to love the matchbox game - where you find tiny things that will fit in a matchbox such as one bead, a grain of rice, a hair clip, a Polly Pocket shoe, one pea from the freezer, a little feather from a pillow, a seed, a rice crispy etc. It used to take her ages to fill the box and kept me from going mad on more than one 'housebound' day. Ideas and activities don't have to be mind blowing - so long as you are together it'll be grand.

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