I feel like a bad mom. My husband travels a lot for work, and I work part time so that I can spend more time with our 6 yo son, an only child. I also provide the bulk of the rule-setting, discipline, and mundane stuff like meals, bath, bedtime routine, due to DH's work schedule. I'm starting to feel (and hardly dare admit it to myself) that I'm not enjoying my time with him. Although he often asks me to play with him, he can entertain himself for hours if I have to do housework or pay bills. The trouble is, I'm not a great playmate with him. We don't enjoy doing the same things. I have little patience for Legos and matchbox cars (his favorites), and I can't seem to create any interest in him to try things that I enjoy doing. Almost everything I suggest he says "No, that's boring!" even if he's never done it before. I'm so frustrated! I began to realize that I was spending more time on housework, etc as a way to avoid playing with him, to have a legit excuse as to why I couldn't play Legos with him. There are no children his age in our immediate neighborhood, and he doesn't have any favorite friends at school that he asks to have over to play with. He is in after-care 3 days a week with lots of kids, but he says it's boring and he prefers the afternoons home with me. We have suggested after-school activities where he could do something with other kids that he knows and likes, like soccer, taekwondo, ice-skating, cub scouts, but he refuses. We tried a basketball program at the Y, and he needed one of us to stand right next to him, and pretty much refused to participate, which was frustrating for all of us. This is not a happy situation for me. I'd honestly be happier putting him in after-care all 5 days, and working full time at a job that I enjoy. But I'd rather develop a great relationship with him and have our afternoons and weekends together become an enjoyable time for both of us. Help! Any ideas?
by frndlyfnOctober 21, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Why not read books about cars and legos? There is a new game out that uses legos as a building game that could be fun. I am not always interested in what dd is but i try to understand her world better. She is 6 as well. Has he played any of the board games on the market yet? Does he have a track to race 2 cars on? DD still has mega bloks rather than legos so i will challenge her to make certain objects and i will "judge" how accurate they are.
by ArtladydpOctober 22, 2012 at 10:26 AM
At this age, YOU have to be interested in what he's interested in. Kids want their parents to do the things they like. That's showing interest. Now mind you, you do not have to spend hours doing something you hate. Start out with the two of you doing it together. Then you can leave and just check back periodically. Comment on how well he's done and encourage him to continue. The communication is the key - not the amount of time spent with him. And don't force him to do those after school activities he does not want to do. Some kids are just comfortable being by themselves. Good luck.
October 22, 2012 at 10:49 AM
There are all sorts of lego-type blocks and cars. You can create a race track for him and race cars with him - you have one and he has one. Or you can find coloring books of cars.
You can also check with the teachers to see what interests him at school and in after-care.
It is difficult to be the only one your child wants to play with. Especially when there are other things you need to do (like pay bills). It is natural to want a break, but you also realize that it is important to spend time with your son. I wish I had better suggestions.
I wrote an essay once about my reaction to some ... uh ... [let's go with] amazing women on Oprah, who apparently were stunned to find out that parenting wasn't 100% bliss and joy at all times.
The part your post reminded me of was: actually mothering is, mostly, snotty, grotty, inconvenient, humiliating, exhausting and overwhelming. Some of the 'joy' available comes from surviving it without killing anyone...
I think you have a child who is already getting as much 'other kid' time as he wants or needs in school all day. I'd suggest that every day after school you pack a snack and head to a forest, a beach, a mountain or a river, and hang out. Eat your snack, play with the sticks and bugs (snow or puddles) and head home to make dinner. Bring a book, or tablet or smartphone --you will not find it anywhere near as interesting as he does, and he can entertain himself with the world. Watch him, listen to him discover things, ask him about what he's finding... and keep yourself entertained your own way.
It sounds like you're expecting him to be someone he isn't... or maybe just someone he isn't yet. He's still a very young child.
Don't pretend you like playing with toys you have no interest in. Be available for him to share his interest (let him gush at length about how wonderful this new set of whatever is) but don't feel pressured to play with him. If he really wants a playmate (and he may, in fact, not), it's appropriate for him to find someone with similar interests, not expect everyone around him to want to do what he does.
by saral2790October 22, 2012 at 11:32 AM
i don't blame you. i'm the same way with ds. i've just never enjoyed playing with children. i've always wanted a family i'm just more into the feeding, bathing, and diapering type of things and dh is the one who plays with him. i do like to read with ds and doing puzzles though. it's just the sitting on the floor playing with toys i perfer not to do because i think that's something he can do by himself while i do house work. ever try taking him to an art class or something you can both participate in? if you're worrired about not spending quality time with you ds you can just include him in making dinner or dessert at home. there are kids cook books with fun recipes and he will feel included and be pround of himself for helping out.
A saying my best friend's mom used to say was: If you want to keep your kids intrested in constructive activities then you have to be interested in the activities of your kds.
No I did not enjoy being a "dance mom" when my daughter was a kid, I didn't like having to sit in the dressing room with a bunch of 6-12 year olds during 6 performances of The NutCracker Ballet. I didn't like sitting outside the dance class door for 2 hours every Saturday and an hour every Tuesday evening.
I didn't like hauling her to Kung Fu classes Monday through Tursday evenings, spending weekends at Seminars and Demonstrations.
I would have enjoyed Thursday evenings better if I didn't spend each one as a Girl Scout Assistant Troop Leader for seven years.
But I did all of those things because my daughter was interested in them and I didn't want her to be like the kids down the street, wandering the streets day and night (who has ever heard of kids riding their bikes in the street at midnight?). Getting arrested for assault at the age of 9, being arrested for stealing a bike at the age of 5, knowing what "huffing" is and showing her friends at the age of 7, betting pregnant at the age of 13. You bet your sweet patootie I was interested even when I wasn't.
If going back to work is really what you want and you feel like you could give him 100% attention when you are together maybe that is what you should do. I think that is better than a mom who is around 100% of the time and only give a fraction of her attention. Do what works for you!
I had similar problems when my son was his age. He's now 17 and our relationship, I am happy to report, is closer than ever. Here is my advice to you: play legos and matchbox cars. Is that boring to you? Yes. It is. However, this is his world. This is where he lives, and if you want to be invited into that world when he is 17 you begin by entering it now. Use the playtime as a chance to talk to him, dream with him, and laugh with him. Don't try to control the play, just let it happen.
Another piece of advice is read to him a bedtime story every night if you aren't already. Put yourself into it heart and soul. Give character voices and everything. Make this something he really looks forward to doing with you. These things will pay off in the long run. They are ways of saying to him, "You matter to me, and I will pursue you." Eventually, you will be the one he comes to and talks to about his life and his day when he's shut out everyone else.
by NikkijrOctober 22, 2012 at 12:47 PMI agree with the other moms. Its all in attitude. If you change the way you look at playing with your son then you can enjoy your time with him. And you can help change his attitude towards the stuff you would like to do by having an optimistic upbeat attitude towards what you want to introduce. Make it an adventure! Hope this helps.