7.09.2006

I Love Mary Poppins

Thanks to Cynical Dad I have discovered a new blog. Have you read It's Not all Mary Poppins?

What a great new read. She recently wrote a post about Benign Neglect which I really loved. Here's a little snippet.

I know most of the people who read this have small children. Small children need a lot more hands-on care. There is no denying this. But they don't need your attention over their every waking breath. They just don't. As a parent, you have the right to expect that your child entertain themselves some of the time. You have the right to a quiet cup of coffee. If you can't achieve that just yet, you can make it a reasonable goal. You have the right to read or talk on the phone (or blog!!) while they play. You have the right to say, "Mommy finds that game boring, hon." You have the right to do all this without guilt, and you can achieve it by introducing to the children a little Benign Neglect.

What a great concept. I can actually say no to my daughter's constant demand to play. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sitting down to a good tea party or a nice game of dress-up. However, after 20 minutes I'm pretty much done. I've got stuff to do. I have to finish the laundry or unload the dishwasher or vacuum. Or maybe, gasp, I could sit down and read some blogs ... during the day ... while she's awake. Scandalous!

I loved the post, but my question to Mary P. in the comments section was how in the heck do I get my daughter to play more independently? I try to at least get her started with an activity, but more often than not, as soon as I stray, she whines, "mommmmmyyy, play with me pllleeaaaseee!" And this goes on all day long. It puts me in a sour mood and then I feel selfish and guilty for not doing what she wants.

So babes in blogland, got any suggestions? How do I go about getting J to play by herself more?

24 comments:

bubandpie said...

Hilarous - I just put a plug for Mary P. on my blog today too. I bet her ears are burning!

No advice here. My problem is trying to get my son to acknowledge my existence, or respond to my attempts to join his play with something other than, "Mama - run away!"

Denise said...

Tag! You're It!!!

Jerri Ann said...

Honestly, I don't think I have the answer but my children just play well alone, always have. I have never hovered over them, even as babies, I had a medical condition part of the time that prevented me from being able to cuddle as much as wanted and basically fall all over them. The side effect of this is that I was very very guilty. I had that mommy guilt going bad. Now, though, as they are getting older, they just play alone. I think it starts in little spurts, if you've been playing a lot, you can't just quit, that would lead to mommy guilt too. I think you have the right idea, start an activity explaining that you have to go do such and such in 3 minutes, then tell her 2 more minutes and I have to do so and so and keep that up. My son who is really high strung and high maitenance responds to this more than anything we do...anything. If he is given the 3 minute warning (he is 3 years old is why we chose that age), he can transition to almost anything (even bedtime and pj's and such). Maybe some of that helps...

LadyBugCrossing said...

That's pretty simple, actually. It's all about the schedule. I told my children that we would play during a specific time frame each day. I would do my work and then we would play for a while and then we did lunch and nap. After nap, they had to play by themselves while I made dinner. They could sit and color at the table and chat with me, but I did not play while I made dinner. Often, they preferred to play where they could see me. That works for me. I just don't do dress up for more than 20min. myself...
Best of luck to you.
LBC

MamaKBear said...

I JUST finished reading that post myself! I got there through Cynical Dad too. (Found him from a link on another friend's blog today.)

Don't have any ideas for you, unfortunately. My 3 1/2 yr old has been playing by herself since she came to me a little over a year ago. (I am kinship foster parent to two of my nieces, who we are adopting.)

I did love Mary's post, and can so completely agree with what she was saying. I don't feel the need to micro-manage my girls' lives, and could never understand those that do.

Petite Mom Blogger said...

I don't have any good advice since I experience the same thing. If you figure something out please do let me know. :)

MrsFortune said...

Well, I don't know as far as kids since mine isn't at that age yet, but in school for my students, I use a lot of interventions like making sure I direct everything back to them. I use models of other students who do work independently. So maybe if you made it some sort of game with your daughter, like you do something while she does, I dunno, that might work.

Meg said...

First of all, I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one who feels guilty about not spending every waking moment playing with the kiddo.

I don't have a whole lot of advice for you since J is a lot older than Squeaks. However, I tend to settle Squeaks in right next to me when I work on the computer. That way I'm right there with her, so she'll usually stay entertained longer than she would if she was playing in her room alone. But as I said, I know nothing about J's age yet, so let me know what you find that works for you!

Awesome Mom said...

You just have to ignore them. My toddler had to learn how to play on his own when I was hugley pregnant and really couldn't do much more than lie on the couch for the last two months of my pregnancy. The screeching eventually went away and he is great at playing on his own now.

Lena said...

Okay I'm totally loving the post you quoted. The parental guilt is so destructive and most of us first-timers don't figure it out until...hm...I still don't think I've fully gotten it and I'm four years in.

Great question: honestly, I have an art box and if that doesn't hold her over...tv.

dennis said...

well, give her a pet. I have been reading alot about how mom's in the blogosphere have been turning buying rabbits...

--------ahem-------

Actually our g.imp has a whole family of lambs and other plushies that totally keeps her occupied and daddy can then enjoy his coffe in peace...

Jamie said...

I will have to check out that blog! My mother always commented on how I seemed to always be "entertaining" the girls last year. My mother raised five kids and did not have time to entertain us! Luckily my daughters have gotten better at playing independently the older they get. My youngest (15 months) loves the Little People playsets. She also entertained herself for a good 20 minutes today just with basic stacking plastic cups I gave her out of the cabinet while I emptied and loaded the dishwaser. Any type of "new" thing, even ordinary every day objects...like a basket of old Christmas cards or coasters..she loves. My 4-year-old loves more creative play...Play Doh and paints and cheap stickers are always good. I set her up with an art zone at the kitchen table.

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

You know, I actually have a friend who can not allow her child to play by herself or with another child without literally standing next to her and waiting for her to trip and fall so that she can catch her?!

I try to get involved when I need to and stand back when my daughter is content. Because the Bean has recently become old enough to actually play a little bit, it's gotten much easier for me to encourage play without me. But Bunny has always been a needier person than the Bean is. That being said, she does much better when there are other people to play with (specifically other children) and she wants my attention when we are in a one on one situation- which is fine. After all- she is my daughter.

Missi said...

I like that blog- thanks!

I kept having more kids so they would have playmates. LOL- just kidding. I still have one that doesn't like for me to have alone time, so I feel your pain.

chelle said...

I have the same issues!! It is getting better, however I have to do SOMETHING important, or she still calls for me. I cannot read, I can sometimes be on the computer, she lets me clean (yippee! I would rather do soemthing else :P )

sunshine scribe said...

Mary P is AWESOME! I love her site.

If any of the strategies that were suggested for independant play work, please let me know ... I need the help too!

Mama of 2 said...

Getting them to play alone....what a concept. Little Man who will be 9 in 3 days still has his moments when all he wants is us to play with him. Mostly now it's games and or something outside like basketball or frisbee. Most of the time I try to do what he wants since he sees me playing with Girlie Girlie. Then there are days when he will play for hours in his room by himself. I think it mainly depends on his mood.

As for Girlie Girlie, she's good at being her in pack and play. All of her toys are at her reach so most of the time she's good for at least 45 minutes to an hour before she's whining to get out. I do that at least once maybe twice a day (days I clean house especially).

As for how to get them to play alone -- well I think you need to set aside a time even if it's only 1/2 hour to start where you tell J this is her time to play by herself. Even if you start out telling her to draw you a picture or color something for you. And as she gets better at that extend the time and who knows maybe she will begin playing on her own without you setting the time.

Just an idea

Michelle said...

We decided when our little man was old enough to play on his own, we would give him as much space as possible- in order to create independence. He is still only 8 1/2 months old, but he is an incredibly independent child.

Last week, we were able paint a large section of our house and replace the floor in our hallway, all while our little man entertained himself. There isn't anything specific that we have done other than provide him with many different things to play with: musical instruments, books, and some random silly toys (we try to be more "educational"). As I type this, he is on the floor playing with a magnet with a division symbol on it, a little bear with a sqeaker and a photo album of family members. Somehow, they have all turned into a fun little game for him.
Thanks for the link to another fun mommy!

Christina said...

Cordy has been able to play on her own since she was just over a year old. It started by us giving her a toy to play with, and then retreating to the couch while she played. Now she plays for up to an hour at a time by herself, coloring, playing with toys, etc. It's heaven.

Start small. Tell your daughter she gets to play by herself for 5 minutes. Set a timer if you have to. Then slowly increase the time each day. Obviously, some days she will need you for something, and the solitary play will be over with, but you can always try again later in the day.

Mommy off the Record said...

Sorry. No help here. My little guy is only one so he doesn't ask me to play with him yet, but I look forward to reading through the comments you get. Maybe I'll get some pointers for the future.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Thanks for spreading that blog love. I'll go check her out.

Like I need another blog to read! Ha!

Wish I had some advice on the playing thing for you. Good luck!

The Flip Flop Mamma! said...

Well, my 1st was an only child, and I'm not much of a "player"...I just don't know how to pretend anymore! She has always had a blast with crayons and tons of paper! She could color all day long! Play-dough is another good one, but can get all smashed into the carpet, so some supervision is required. Sorry, not much of a help today!

Amber said...

I've enjoyed reading the comments for some tips, especially since I'm having a baby any day now and am worried about my 2-year-old feeling neglected. Fortunately, she's pretty independent and I've really tapped into things she loves to do i.e. coloring, painting, jumping off high buildings. Those usually keep her ocupied...at least for a few minutes.

Waya said...

And if you think having a sibling so they can play together...you can throw that idea out of the window. You'll become more of a referee most of the time. Sorry this is not exactly helpful, but it's just the fact ma'am...at least at our house any way.