My kid is bored and I am frustrated.
March 7, 2011 7:27 AM Subscribe
Is it fair that I ask my 2.5 year old daughter to play independently? She wants me around to do *everything* with her and I feel like she should at least be able to occupy herself alone for a few minutes at a time. I need guidance and suggestions.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (49 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
My daughter is extremely verbal and bright (but of course, I'm biased). We've enrolled her in preschool for this September when she turns 3, but for she's mainly with me all day until my husband gets home. We have tons of music classes, art classes and playdates with friends to keep her occupied, but I worry we should have enrolled her in preschool earlier. C'est la vie, because preschools in NYC are all overbooked so we can't get her in anywhere earlier.
When we're at home alone, my daughter expects me to do everything with her. If I have to answer emails or take a phone call, I'll set her up with art supplies or give her a "task" she usually enjoys ("tear up this magazine page into tiny pieces"/"put Kleenex diapers on your dolls") to keep her occupied, but she gets extremely upset and clingy. It's gotten to the point where I can't get a free minute to plan the day, look up what museums are open or who's free for a playdate, because she's crying about being ignored. If I set her up at the kitchen table with crayons and paper so she can color while I make dinner, she begs me to color with her the entire time and gets agitated when I finally leave to put things in the oven.
Just now I dropped her off at our neighbor's house because I needed to check directions on how to get to our new music class. We'd been pretending to go to the store, so I asked my daughter to take her baby to the store while I found information. She elected to stand right by my side, staring at me with huge Anime eyes full of tears, and then sobbed in my lap during the 3 minutes it took me to check the subway directions.
I know she's still very little, and Mom saying that she has to check her email can seem like Mom is saying "go sit in a lonely corner and wait forever." I understand that when I do simple adult tasks where I can't include her (like taking things out of the broiler, or talking to my editor on the phone for 5 minutes, or checking the computer for subway directions) make her feel neglected and sad. When there are ways to include her, I do, but I also think she needs to learn how to amuse herself independently for short periods of time. Is that too much to ask of a still-youngish toddler?
The worst part is that I get so frustrated when I can't get a second to pee or answer emails for 2 minutes that I snap at my kid, which in turn makes her more anxious and upset and needy for my reassurances. I need more constructive ways for dealing with the "staring at Mom pointedly while tears well in my huge eyes" than simply feeling guilty and irritated!
Other details: she watches a half hour of TV a couple times a week, but I don't like using TV as a babysitter unless absolutely imperative. I am at home with my daughter M-F, 8-6, but when my husband gets home he takes over main parenting responsibilities until bedtime.