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Play time - when?!

19 replies

user1479136681 · 30/03/2020 13:06

We have adopted a 1 year old boy and only a week into placement (yay!)

His routine includes a walk and 2 naps a day, then he goes to bed at 7pm after a bath and book.

We're settling into this routine but I feel like all we do is feed him then put him to sleep! We play for like 10-15 minutes at a time between doing other things, is this enough??

Sorry for the silly question amidst so much serious ongoing current events but I'm finding myself questioning everything I do!! His foster carers were amazing, very experienced, we joke that they are yummy mummys and we're scummy mummys in comparison.

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Mummyshark2018 · 30/03/2020 13:14


10-15 minute Chunks is plenty at that age and you don't want to overwhelm. I would imagine mealtime takes up a chunk of time as well in their day. It's not just about playing but good quality joint interactions which you can incorporate into mealtimes, so peek a boo games and other things. I wouldn't stress too much though, I would focus on lots of cuddles, singing, looking at books, exploring the garden etc in between quiet down time.

veejayteekay · 30/03/2020 19:13

Hey there we adopted a baby boy at 13ms and we struggled with similar. Sort of felt in the early days we had to be very "on" all the time which led me to worry especially in early days when I was feeling so overwhelmed that I had to be constantly having active play with him or otherwise I was a horrible failure!

I've learnt within the time we've had him that actually a lot of babies of this age are pretty good at self play and don't really need to have constant involvement from parents with it all the time. I was so insecure about this to startnoff with and found myself thinking "do people really sit and play with the baby all day??" I've since become more confident in the 5 months we've had him that self play does no harm and is actually really helpful for them to do things like practice speech and walking etc

It's only my opinion fwiw but we have found a good balance is something like this in his routine (we are still on 2 naps too and he's nearly 18m). Wakes up and has playpen time for about 15 mins with a little telly on in background while I get breakfast things ready. Has brekkie, then we have some toys our for him and he plays for a little while before getting dressed. My tip is when tube just been fed and or napped is best time for them to have independent play as they're all happy! We then usually do a walk where he'll have his morning nap (under situation atm quite a short one but ordinarily would be a nice long one maybe combined with few errands in town etc) and then head back for morning snack. He has playtime before lunch and is say this is a key point of say I try to be more active with him as he can get a bit grotty before lunch but every kids different! I try to just give him more attention when he's tired and if I notice attention seeking behaviours I use as a cue that he is not getting enough time with me. We then have lunch, and more playtime and then afternoon nap/snack and then another chunk before dinner. When I say playtime I would say a lot of the day is independent play - I put a rotation of s different selection of toys books etc out for him but I dip in and out during day to give him chunks of active play. I try to do a bit of rough n tymble with him each day (btw I noticed this really helps with bonding as lots of opportunities for eye contact and cuddles!) And at quieter parts of day I try to look at some books with him or maybe just try and be more involved but you are totally right. So much of day ends up being food or sleep that it's such a broken up day and any parent would go insane if they were constantly orchestrating all the play so give yourself a break! As others say chunks is fine! You'll find a rhythm and I guarantee you're doing great! X

user1479136681 · 30/03/2020 19:43

Thanks both :) and @veejayteekay I feel exactly like you said, that I should be "on" all the time but I'm exhausted already. Feeling like I'm doing a terrible job but your post is comforting. I cried in the loo today :(

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Jellycatspyjamas · 31/03/2020 16:19

It’s only been a week (congratulations), but give yourself time to adjust. You’ll find your own way of doing things in time. I do remember very well being surprised at how much of parenting was utter drudgery - dressing, feeding, washing, toiletting - and much less the magical playing, enriching experience I thought it would be.

user1479136681 · 31/03/2020 19:12

@Jellycatspyjamas that's exactly how I feel, RE the drudgery. I knew it would be hard work but I didn't realise it would be so boring. Feeling crap these past 2 days, like I will be a terrible parent and he would have been better off staying with his amazing foster carers. My wife seems to have really connected with him but I haven't yet.

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Ted27 · 31/03/2020 21:42

Firstly congratulations !

You won't be a terrible parent, but it is the ultimate in on the job training! It doesnt help that we are all so restricted now.

My son came home 8 years ago this week, I'm so glad we were able to get out and about, even so we played Frustration for several hours every day for about 6 weeks. Talk about tedious.

You will find your way, but don't put too much pressure on yourself.
enjoy your boy

2mums1son · 01/04/2020 17:43

My partner and I have been reflecting this week on how this current lockdown reminds us of the early days and how then, like now, we sometimes counting down to’s normal, it’s not all perfect immediately and sometimes it’s bloody boring and hard work! Still with it x

2mums1son · 01/04/2020 17:43

Stick not still!

Jellycatspyjamas · 01/04/2020 17:53

@Jellycatspyjamas that's exactly how I feel, RE the drudgery. I knew it would be hard work but I didn't realise it would be so boring.

I don’t know your situation pre adoption but I went from working full time and studying to all of a sudden being home alone all day. My friends had all long adjusted to parenthood (and had had a much more gentle adjustment through pregnancy so had already made lifestyle changes etc) and so I felt my whole life had stopped in exchange for endless laundry and trying to entertain two terrified little ones. It’s ok to feel it - the change of pace and place are hard going but it won’t feel like this forever.

I remember someone here telling me it took a good 6 months for them to get to grips with things which was strangely comforting at the time because I immediately stopped expecting myself to get my shit together, so I’d offer you the same. It’s only been a week, if it’s any comfort I remember a about 4 weeks in phoning my husband at work in tears because I couldn’t get the tv to turn on. It’s normal to cry, feel stressed and anxious - in time those feelings will give way to all the joy, love and affection in the world but just now it’s hard, and that’s an ok place to be.

ifchocolatewerecelery · 01/04/2020 22:54

@Jellycatspyjamas looking back it took us a full year before we finally got all the little niggles into a routine as our LO's FC had done baby led parenting so LO never had set times to get up or go to bed.

My low point was 8 weeks post placement. We'd been swimming in the morning and had a SW visit after lunch so missed nap time. LO cried if I wasn't holding her, daddy was running very late when the glass bowl I was doing super noodles in for tea just split into 3 pieces. I was so tired my first thought was can we still eat this if I pick out the glass! What actually happened was I phoned daddy in tears and told him to get his bum home before bundling LO in the car and getting a McDonald's drive thru. Daddy came home to find us eating chicken nuggets and fries on the sofa laughing and watching iggle piggle. Not what he expected at all.

user1479136681 · 02/04/2020 11:06

Thank you for all your replies :) @ifchocolatewerecelery I love the McDonald's story! I suppose that's the kind of thing that's awful at the time but a funny story to look back on.

It doesn't help that both of our jobs are on shaky ground now because of the lockdown. We have some savings but not enough to last out the year. I keep thinking he should have gone to a more well off family who could have seen him securely through this. We would have been fine if not for the pandemic as wife has just had a promotion, but now I'm worried.

However I have been bonding with him and enjoying him much more these past couple of days. He even came to look for me when I went to the loo. He's got a lovely smile and we had some fun dancing to music this morning.

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user1479136681 · 02/04/2020 11:08

@Jellycatspyjamas you're so right about the long adjustment during pregnancy Vs suddenly having a toddler!! I was working full time but I hate my job so I wasn't worried about leaving it. But I remember thinking I'd be applying my energy to amazing creative games and crafting with him all the time!

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user1479136681 · 02/04/2020 11:10

@Ted27 I thought about your Frustration story a lot yesterday as all LO wanted to do was open and close one specific cupboard for what felt like hours! There's not even anything in it!

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SittingontheSidelines · 02/04/2020 11:29

Hi @hi User you went i user. You went through the whole adoption process and you were matched to your child. He wouldn't be better if with his foster carers and he doesn't need different adopters he's got you. Stop being so hard on yourself. Take it a day at a time . Sound like you're doing fine to me.

SittingontheSidelines · 02/04/2020 11:32

Sorry about the spelling mistakes. Hopefully you understood.

Ted27 · 02/04/2020 18:43

@user1479136681 don't you know thats the most exciting cupboard there is ? Because you never know when the Empty Cupboard Fairy might put something in it !

Jellycatspyjamas · 02/04/2020 18:57

But I remember thinking I'd be applying my energy to amazing creative games and crafting with him all the time!

He’s one, in the gentlest way possible creative games and crafting come a good bit later - just now, especially so early on in adoption, it’s about survival. He needs to be fed, cuddled, changed, bathed and played with (by which I mean nursery rhymes, songs, clapping, simple toys). Your time will come.

In saying that, it’s quite good therapy to onto some of the coronavirus lockdown threads and see how well established parents are coping with their offspring being home 24/7. Ignore the “scheduled to within an in of our lives” people and look for those who are having a somewhat harder time of it. Or on the lockdown learning threads on Mumsnet- it’s hard going even when you know what you’re doing.

sassygromit · 04/04/2020 15:15

The book Your Child 0 - 5 by Penelope Leach is amazing as it has lots of activity ideas in it, for each age group, and explains how the activity is helping your baby's brain - if you read it you will feel very expert! This was a while ago for me, but the thing I remember for this age group is "what you put in you get out" - so I think both for developmental growth plus attachment and responsiveness to you and relationship, the more you interact the more you get back, and that then makes it easier for you to continue Smile
Sorry if someone else has said that, I haven't read all the replies.

Wintersun13 · 07/04/2020 22:31

My 18-month old son can't focus on any activity more than 15min so I'd say that's plenty.

Don't feel guilty re:the drudgery. I feel like this too (and my son isn't adopted so you could say I'm having an easier time I suppose). I've felt so guilty about being bored with him, until I realized how many people feel like that too. The fact is that playing baby games isn't particularly exciting or stimulating.

I've found that the older he gets, and the more I can interact with him, the less I feel like this and the more excited I am about spending time with him. Or maybe it's me learning to be a parent, who knows.

After only one week I'd say you're doing well ! You can't be expected to be sitting with him every minute of every day, and it wouldn't be good for him, I don't think. Having a good routine in place is key. Ours looks like this :

  • 7h15 : son wakes up. I make his bottle and give it to him in my bed (he's old enough to hold it himself but it's our special moment).
  • 7h30 : I'm having coffee while son munches on a biscuit. Often he wants to sit on my knee. Or he wanders around the living room.
  • 8h00 : bath time. I draw it out as son is having fun in the bath and I have a break. Often I sit in the bath with him.
  • 8h45 : get out of bath, get dried, rub lotion, get dressed
  • 9h00 : bit of play. We alternate between baby books, lego, hide and seek. Sometimes I put on music. He loves dancing but is particular which music he'll dance to !
  • 9h30/10h : nap time. I usually nap too, or watch/read something dumb that doesn't require any higher cognitive functions (33wk preggo, tired all the time).
  • 11h30/12h00 : lunch time. I usually batch cook so I always have something ready. If not I have emergency minute meals (oats, omelette, instant potato puree with microwaved frozen fish).
  • 12h30 : Some more play. As the weather gets warmer I let him play outside on his own while I cook, wash dishes, etc. Then play with him outside for a bit.
  • 14h30/15h : nap time.
  • 16h00 : snack. Usually fruit, or yogurt, or cake (if I made some).
  • 20h : dinner and bed routine, he's usually in bed around 20h30

The last chunk of time before dinner/bed routine is the hardest as son is getting tired and so am I. This is usually where I'd stick a walk outside but now obviously it's not an option. We alternate play/independant play. Sometimes I call friends on whatsapp so that I can at least have an adult conversation in the day, even if playing with him or watching him at the same time.
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