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Help, I'm addicted to my phone, and not paying my toddler enough attention :( What am I supposed to do all day?!

(42 Posts)
PurpleTreeFrog Thu 10-Dec-15 13:29:56

I am feeling like a terrible mum recently.

I have an active 18 month old who always wants to play. He is fairly good playing by himself but eventually he does need my attention (e.g. to read him a story or to help him with a task he's become frustrated with) and also loves being outdoors.

I don't have a car on my days off as DH uses it for work. The bus service here is crap, by the time I'd get anywhere it would be naptime already. The only thing to do in walking distance is the rubbish muddy boggy playpark on the estate. I do take DS there but it doesn't kill much time. Now its winter we don't even go out much at weekends either.

So we are effectively stuck at home with me wishing his lovely toddler years away because it's so boring for both of us. I've tried getting him to do "arty" stuff with crayons and glue and paper but at his age it doesn't amuse for long. So I often end up sticking Peppa Pig or whatever on TV, he sits and watches nicely, and I end up pretty much ignoring him while I'm on my phone - I do everything from Mumsnet, online shopping, reading news, chatting with friends, watching YouTube videos etc.

It has literally got to the point where he will sometimes come up to me, take my phone out of my hands, physically chuck it to one side and sit on my lap to demand attention.

I'm worried he'll end up behaving badly or tantrumming to gain my attention, and that he'll end up addicted to "screens" too as that's the example I'm setting.

But it's so bloody boring sitting there all day trying to keep him amused, when they have such short attention spans, and the things he does pay attention to are so boring and repetitive, like posting things into a shape sorter or stacking cups. I love seeing him play nicely but after a while my mind needs more stimulation than watching a toddler put things into a container...

What so SAHMs of toddlers do all day, on days when you're stuck indoors? How do you get jobs done without ignoring your DC for hours? How do you stave off boredom? Should I just be doing more housework or useful tasks, with DS following around and 'helping'?

Does anyone have any advice? Anyone else have this problem or am I just shit? I know I need to put the bloody phone down and engage with my son but it's easier said than done.

NickyEds Thu 10-Dec-15 13:52:08

You need to get out more. How bad are the buses? At 18 months my now almost 2 year old would have one long nap in the afternoon leaving all morning free to get somewhere, have an hour at toddler group and get back (I don't drive). I totally agree that rainy days are the hardest though- do you have a puddle suit (all in one waterproof) and wellies so that you can go for a walk? Inside activities we do are;
painting, play dough, crayons, stickers, making dens, blocks, train track....we read a lot. I do a reasonable amount of housework with ds and dd in tow and it is important to let them play by themselves (ds mainly as dd is only 5 months!)but I try no to leave them to occupy themselves too long to clean. Split the day up into hour long chunks- he must nap for a couple of them, have three meals during them so in the ones left organise activities. Save your phone for nap times.

Iguessyourestuckwithme Thu 10-Dec-15 14:02:40

I am a nanny. Last winter I had a 14 month old. While we went out a lot: groups, play dates etc. We also stayed close to home too.

Inside activities
Kitchen - helping me cook, helping me load/unload the washing machine? Hang washing, water play, sensory play - shaving foam etc, tipping and pouring with plast containers and dried pasta, painting (whole body painting, paintbrushes, crayons, monopainting, printing etc)
Lounge - den making, jumping on sofa cushions on the floor aka soft play, radio on and dancing, tea parties with toys, stories, singing, aqua draw,
Bathroom - bath time, painting in the bath,sensory play in the bath, just playing with toys in there
Bedroom - play with different toys in there (dif toys are stored in dif rooms) read books

We also would go for a walk round the block, nothing exciting often with toy pram etc walk to post a letter, puddle jumping, cold play in the garden all wrapped up warm etc.

PurpleTreeFrog Thu 10-Dec-15 14:04:26

Thanks so much for the ideas. Yes, you're right. It takes us about an hour to get into town on the bus (by car it would be about 15 mins). Depending what time DS wakes up he's not always ready to leave the house until 9.30-10am then his naptime is due around 1pm. So I always think it's not worth it as I'd almost have to leave after an hour of arriving.

But maybe it would be worth it. I could try and find toddler groups to commit to on my days off so I would then be forced to make the journey and take DS out in the morning, just leaving the afternoon to spend at home.

LizzieMacQueen Thu 10-Dec-15 14:05:20

Have a second baby. That'll quickly occupy your time.

icklekid Thu 10-Dec-15 14:06:25

Friends with similar age dc are my saviour! Visiting them or them coming to visit makes time go so much quicker. I hate being in all the time and do understand the temptation to be on phone/put TV on as ds (17 months) is very similar. I walk everywhere and if need be ds naps in pushchair is this possible? Is there a soft play nearby as that also helps waste hours!

PurpleTreeFrog Thu 10-Dec-15 14:09:22


Honestly, I really want another baby to keep me even more occupied. It's just I have yet to convince DH.

The sad thing is I genuinely enjoy child's play. I just don't stay interested long enough to do it all day long!

unlimiteddilutingjuice Thu 10-Dec-15 14:09:54

It sounds tough OP, especially in winter. Will he nap in a buggy? That way you could leave in the morning and just stay out all day. At that age DS used to love just being on buses and didn't care where we were going. So a bus trip into town, a walk round the shops and a visit to the library would be a great day out as far as he was concerned!
I like the idea of breaking the day up into chunks and planning out a bit at a time. I try to allow t.v just in the evenings as once it goes on, its hard to get it off without a tantrum.

BeaBoo Thu 10-Dec-15 14:11:36

I have the exact same problem at the moment. It's so hard in the winter and I live in deepest darkest Yorkshire where it just seems to rain constantly! My DD is 23 months and luckily we have a playgroup to go to every morning through the week, then she will nap but then I struggle to fill the time until DP gets home at 6. I find myself sat checking my phone all the time and I feel really guilty for it, but I find it so hard to keep her entertained. We have recently got in to colouring and play doh etc which she will sit and play with for a while so hopefully we can just do lots of crafts until the weather is ok again!

SuckingEggs Thu 10-Dec-15 14:17:44

Before you know it, he'll be at school and it's possible you'll miss him...

The time may also come when he sits there on his phone - ignoring you... You won't have a leg to stand on wink

Seriously, I feel your pain. It's exhausting, but the best thing is to get out, rain or sun. It really helps the child and you. You'll get fresh air, have social interaction and use up any excess energy. Just do it one day at a time. And put the phone away! fgrin

throwingpebbles Thu 10-Dec-15 14:18:11

Toddler groups definitely.
Is it the end of the world if you are out for nap time?

Me and my boy used to do "adventure walks" as a break from the park. Basically a wander round the estate but he would choose the pace and which way to go. He used to spend ages looking into the drains or watching cars go over speed bumps!

This time of year you could nip out late afternoon for a walk to look at Christmas lights?

BrandNewAndImproved Thu 10-Dec-15 14:22:06

I would make the morning about interacting with him and the afternoon when the TV can go on, you can sort out housework and zone out on your phone.

For days out would he not nap in a buggy or on the bus? If it takes an hour he can sleep on the bus for an hour if you time it right.

LibrariesgaveusP0wer Thu 10-Dec-15 14:22:40

Are there not toddler groups in nearby church halls etc?

I'd also say maybe get up and out earlier?

Could he start his nap on the bus?

MuddhaOfSuburbia Thu 10-Dec-15 14:29:22

I don't think it matters where you go, as long as you go

even for an hour or so- it breaks up the day- trust me!

even if your outing is shit, it's nice to come home

I'm in London so lots to do for littluns. But when ds was your ds' age he liked nothing better than to follow the dustcart grin oh, and watch diggers!

do it for as long as you can stand it, then come home into the warm and enjoy your well earned screen time, both of you

Seriouslyffs Thu 10-Dec-15 14:30:28

Good for you for recognising it. That would definitely have been me, thank goodness phones or even the internet weren't around when I was parenting toddlers.
Put your phone on a high shelf with the volume loud but only set to beep for calls texts and emails from 2 or 3 people and leave it alone! No Facebook notifications Mumsnetting.

NickyEds Thu 10-Dec-15 14:43:27

Yes Mudda ds loves a building site! I always found that when I was at work the name of the game was getting stuff done quickly (it's the same for friends who work now)but now the aim is to do stuff slowly-trying to make small activities like making sandwiches take longer than they otherwise would. I also second the suggestion of going out all day so setting off at 9.30 ish into town, doing an hour at toddler group, let your ds have a wander and "help" you shop for tea. Then a packed lunch/cafe lunch followed by your ds having a nap in the buggy. You do some shopping/cafe whilst he naps, then do library followed by bus home. Let him help you with tea and then eat it, then you can both have some screen time before bath?????

PurpleTreeFrog Thu 10-Dec-15 14:50:56

NickyEds I actually love the kind of day you describe, we do it occasionally. I suppose I tell myself I don't have the energy to do it more often. But when I do it, I think "why don't I do this more often?!" (Laziness, that's why...)

The best thing is when you can give them their lunch out somewhere so there's no food mess to clear up at home grin

cornishglos Thu 10-Dec-15 15:02:17

This time of year is hard. We're doing a lot of housework (he 'helps'), a lot of TV, a lot of napping, lots of stories, cooking or art, little walks around the block, phoning friends or skyping friends. Can you invite people round? Going out for lunch is good too.
Even if you don't get on a bus, watching the buses come and go is enough for an 18-month-old!
Try sticky kids and barefoot books on youtube too.
Bubbles, duplo, playdough, trains, cars, jigsaws.
I love kids and love being off work, but this weather is tough even for me...

PurpleTreeFrog Thu 10-Dec-15 17:29:32

I'm going to write these activity ideas down so I don't forget them when this thread has disappeared down my list!

feelinginthedark Fri 11-Dec-15 01:12:57

Totally agree that if you don't leave the house till 10 its practically not worth going out. Have the bag ready the night before, get up and ready to head out before DS wakes, all you have to do is get him up and dressed and he can have brekkie (yoghurt tube, cheerios and raisins, breakfast muffin) in the buggy on the way to the bus or wherever you are going even if it is just to the local shop. Are there other kids in the estate to do playdates with?

I do sympathise with the phone thing, my DH is the same and it drives me insane, if I leave him with the kids for a few hours, when I come home invariably toddler DD will be sprawled on the couch watching TV, the baby will be on the floor, playing, and he will be on the couch on his phone. I have successfully banned his phone from mealtimes but that was a battle. I once went to meet him in the park and spotted him on his phone paying no attention to DD, I texted him 'your daughter has been kidnapped' and he looked around in panic grin.

ExBallerina Fri 11-Dec-15 01:29:53

grin I love the kidnapped text. I may use it!

Just plan 1 activity for the morning. If it takes all morning, it'll keep you busy. Like others have said; nature walks, art activity, bus trip. My DD loved the grocery store at that stage!

And I save TV for the evening after the end of a busy day. It's our reward and I give zero fucks if someone disagrees with it.

3point14159265359 Fri 11-Dec-15 01:44:27

It's hard, isn't it? I used to do stuff in the morning, give him a noonish lunch and plan to have him in bed (mostly so I could also lie down) by about 12.45. TV was mostly saved for between nap and tea time.

We only went to toddler groups maybe twice a week, but filled our other days doing other things. A lot of the 'other things' might be chores or housework but with a toddler in tow they could be made into a morning's activity. For example, I'd decide to make soup, we'd have an outing to the shop to buy veg, it's a five minute walk for a grown up but we could spin that out easily for half an hour, then when you get home you set them up with a carrot, a potato and a bowl to play with whilst you chop veg/make soup and you make up a song about carrots as you go. We've also had outings to watch houses being built and pavements being tarmacced...

It sounds really earnest but it was based on two things. I know damn well my mum didn't sit and play with me all day long because she had stuff that needed doing so she just had to do it with us tagging along and I don't feel like I suffered for it. And secondly, I wasn't about to try and do chores on my very limited child-free time, therefore they had to be done with DC. Tbh, the house has probably never been as clean as it was then. grin

And I have no problem with saying leave the house at ten- not every outing has to be a big outing. If you don't have to hurry, why not chill a bit? Life with a toddler is necessarily slow.

Keep an eye out for neighbourhood things going on too - story time at the library and those kinds of things.

For the phone thing, use it to take photos of cuteness, then email/FB the photos. That way it's still about the DC, but you might just get a tiny bit of interaction with a grown up out of it wink

leaningtoweroflego Fri 11-Dec-15 01:44:28

You need to get out. But not just for him, for you too.

You need to find some mum friends to spend time with. You get to have tea and chat, your toddler gets new experiences, maybe make a toddler mate and when you get home the games are not so boring!

I moved to a town where I knew no one and made friends through mumsnet local and also (shhhh! wink ) netmums has a good meet-a-mum board.

Or get out other places, go visit old mates, go choose fruit at the shops, go to the library (does your local one do rhyme time?)

Is your buggy comfortable for him to sleep in? Ours reclines, I don't worry about getting home for naps, DD sleeps in the buggy.

LeaLeander Fri 11-Dec-15 03:14:03

You really, really need to be speaking aloud to him more than you apparently are, to develop those pathways in his brain. Google the crucial need to do so, then put down your device and talk to your child.

Mrscog Fri 11-Dec-15 03:28:04

I just went back to work, toddlers are tedious for me and DS Got a much better deal being in high quality childcare than me trying to entertain him all week!

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