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4 year old (pre school) and independent play

(9 Posts)
PenelopeChipShop Sun 29-May-16 10:11:27

I'm interested in how much structured stuff and actively playing with your 3.5-4 year old you do versus just time pottering around the house and garden with you not actively entertaining them, iyswim.

My DS is turning 4 next month and starts school in Sept. My new Dd is 8 weeks. I was working part time til Feb this year so my days off with my DS were very focused on quality time with him - we'd pretty much spend all day either out doing stuff of playing with his toys. It's been such a change having the baby and he's had to learn to play alone for much, much more of the the day - I guess I'm feeling guilty about it.

However I'm also slowly coming to realise that perhaps I entertained him a bit too much before - is playing on their own a good skill to have before school do you think?

I think I'm just finding this a bit weird - for so long he was my sole focus and now I'm pin balling between them and despite my best efforts I'm not actually down and dirty on the floor playing with him even a third as much as I was. However a lot of the time he seems fairly happy, though he does ask for TV when he gets bored and if I'm busy with the baby.

I guess I'm asking it is ok that I'm so much less involved despite now actually being at home!?

PenelopeChipShop Sun 29-May-16 10:12:09

Argh that was so long sorry!!

cindyrella Sun 29-May-16 18:55:12

I think it's great for them to learn to entertain themselves. Notice how he will sort thru things in his head by playing by himself? I let DD2.5 let me know what she wants/needs. If she is happy playing alone/'helping' me do the washing or cleaning etc. If she asks me to play with her, I usually do (unless I'm really busy). Then I always take time out to have structured play but it doesn't take lots of our time. I work 4 days a week so I have a house to run too!

BotBotticelli Sun 29-May-16 19:55:50

Snap op! We have exactly the same situation here (except my baby is a little older: almost 10 months now and DS1 is 3.6)....

In the last 6 months or so since the baby came out of the "newborn that just sleeps a lot phase" DS1 has had a dramatic reduction in mummy playtime.

Like you, I have realised that in fact I was probably playing with him much too much before the baby was born. Like, literally ALL DAY.

It has been a bit of a shock to his system to be honest - these days he normally gets 45 mins of 100% mummy attention playing on the floor with him whilst ds2 has his morning nap, and maybe another half an hour after lunch whilst DS2 has his afternoon nap (then I suggest we put the telly on and have a cuddle together and watch CBeebies cos I am bloody knackered - baby wakes up at 5am - and just wanna rest whilst he is sleeping).

This is a huge change from the hours (literally hours!) we used to play together before baby came along.

It has not been easy and ds1 has had lots of screaming tantrums begging me to play with him whilst I try to change a poo explosion nappy/hang out pooey washing/lie on the sofa with my eyes closed cos I am so exhausted. BUT he seems to be more accepting of the new regime these days and I think it is doing him the world of good/ he is playing imaginative little games with his toys and with odds and sods he finds around the house which is really nice to see. And I always try to make sure j cuddle him when he asks for a hug. And sometimes I am really honest with him about the baby which I think helps:

"Yes DS1, baby brothers can be quite annoying....I feel annoyed at the moment because I cannot play with you because the baby is tired and keeps crying/falling over/trashing the kitchen. He will be able to walk properly soon and it will be more fun then. And when he naps at lunchtime we will play hungry hippos ok?"

There's a lot of conversations. Like this in our house now! Sounds like you're doing fine!

BotBotticelli Sun 29-May-16 19:59:09

Also meant to say: we go out the house twice every day:

- in the morning after ds2's morning nap (a playgroup, the library, the park, whatever)

And then again

- late afternoon for half an hour (supermarket, pet shop, garden centre, play date)

I find it much easier to deal with both kids when we are out and about. And strapping the baby in the buggy and going to the garden centre means the baby is content (and contained!) in the buggy looking at the fish etc whilst j get to chat to ds1 and have a nice time with him without grappling a cruising baby who keeps falling over and stealing his toys etc. Being out is definitely easier than being at home and those outings definitely count as quality time for ds1 imho, even though we are not playing on the floor together,,,

Fairuza Sun 29-May-16 20:01:41

It's better for him to be able to entertain himself - he'll need to be independent and self-motivated at school, there won't be an adult playing with him all the time then.

EquinoxBloom Sun 29-May-16 20:10:58

Far better to entertain themselves.

I hate playing. All that Barbies and jigsaws and play doh crap. I can tolerate it but only barely. Luckily DD(3.5) has always been good at entertaining herself (had to be?) but I will do one activity in the morning and one in the afternoon, max.

I work full time, thank god.

Misty9 Mon 30-May-16 16:15:59

Mine are 4.8 and 2 and are well used to benign neglect entertaining themselves. I often find that 5-10mins of playing with them is enough to keep them going for ages. My youngest is a bit more high maintenance but luckily they play together very well. I'm dreading ds starting school in September tbh!

PenelopeChipShop Tue 31-May-16 12:10:03

This makes me feel lots better thank you! I think I may be a reformed helicopter parent...! I never realised I was one before but it's literally impossible to give him the time I did before, even though my Dd is not a 'difficult' baby by any means and does sleep a fair amount. It's just that the change is so dramatic and if I notice the difference he must do too and I worry what effect it's having on him!

I think I also worry that we don't do enough play dates as I don't know that many mums as I was working... He has two days at nursery but no real 'best friends' have been mentioned, just hope he will be ok at school!!

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