Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday - Or Not

Hey, guys! This week's edition of Works For Me Wednesday is backwards! That's right - instead of giving tips, we ask for them. Sort of like we do around here (on a much smaller scale) with Advice Forum Friday.

This backwards business is right up my alley - I'm always wondering how other people, moms in particular, handle certain situations.

So let's just hop right into it, shall we?

I have the hardest time finding activities to keep my 4-year-old engaged. When she has someone to play with, she does okay (although she's not the most considerate playmate) but when she's alone, her attention span is very short.

Up until about a year ago, Scooter would happily play by herself, with Little People, dishes, Pet Shop, Doodle Pad, whatever, and have a great time doing it. These days, though, she needs constant interaction, and I gotta tell ya, it's killin' me. She'll ask to play with a certain toy, and five minutes later, she's back, "All done! What I can do now?" She ALWAYS wants me to play with her, and I do to an extent, but after a while, Mommy's done.

Oh, yeah, and I can't let her play in another room, because almost every time, she tears up the toys or gets into something or colors all over the room or smears toothpaste all over the bathroom. Again, this has only been for the last few months to a year. Before that, no problems from her.

I probably sound very naive, but I think my biggest issue is that I would expect this behavior from a 2- or 3-year-old, but Scoot's 4 1/2!

So tell me, my Internet peeps, what suggestions do you have for this Mother Of Three, One Of Whom is Wearing Her Out? Activities, methods, anything you've got! Give it to me!

And be sure to check back with me on Friday, cause I'll be asking more of the hard (and often silly) questions on Advice Forum Friday.

Peace out.


Capturing Today said...

Maybe since this is a newer behavior now that she's gotten older, she is perhaps thinking that mom must be having too much fun while she's off playing? When mine won't play nicely on their own, I have them shadow me all day and help do whatever I'm doing - laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc...sometimes they love it and turn out to be great little helpers, but sometimes they beg to go off and play!

Debs said...

I'd say similar things. Try to come up with chores that she could do with you. If she likes it then the chores are getting done, if she doesn't then maybe she'll decide her toys are interesting after all!

Milehimama said...

You could try the shoebox method.
Get some clear plastic shoe boxes. Put activities in them - one different activity in each one. One could have laces and beads, one could have counting bears and cups, one could have blocks, whatever.

Let her choose her box. If she comes to you with "I'm bored" direct her to the boxes. (and she has to put a box back to get one out. You have to REALLY enforce this for a couple of days until it becomes a habit for them). She can bring the box to whereever you are so you can supervise her.

If she is still looking for entertainment, give her some chores. Kids like to help especially if they are like mommy. So wiping the cabinets, or a baseboard with a babywipe, etc. is helpful, and contributes to the family.

And, my never fail solution when I absolutely MUST get them out of my hair?

Let them wash dishes in the sink. Letting them splash in a sinkful of water unfailingly entertains them for hours. Put a towel on the floor first!

Ami said...

I like the shoebox method above. Room time is a must in this house with our 4yo and 2yo...45-60 minutes of independent play with toys of MY choosing. Also, a new toy that keeps my 4yo busy is Light Brite. You'll need to sit down with her to teach which letter represents the correct colored peg. (I made a color-coded chart for my son.) When he needs a new activity, he sits down with it, fascinated for about 30 minutes. And we leave it out in a safe place, where he can return to it later as an ongoing project.

SAHMmy Says said...

Capturing Today has the right idea! When my son is driving me nuts, it's usually because he just needs more mommy time. So I give it to him--I basically smother him until he's satisfied, then he'll trot off to do his own thing, terrorize his baby sister, whatever, and I can make dinner. Good luck!

Dawn said...

Is she the oldest or the youngest or the middle child? If she's got a younger sibling, maybe she feels a little jealous and wants you all to herself. If she's the youngest and the older onces are in school is she in preschool? Maybe she feels left out because she doesn't get to go to school. That's how my youngest was. Maybe have her help you out around the house when you're cleaning or cooking. If you just need some time for you and she keeps bugging you try setting a timer for 15 minutes and tell her she has to play (maybe where you can see her if she's a mischief) by herself and not bother you until the timer goes off. Good luck.

texastanya said...

We do "room time" for 1 to 2 hours a day. We worked up to it, starting at 10 minutes a day.
First, remove any items from the room that could pose safety risks, or that you could not stand to have damaged.
Second, use your baby gate to keep them in the room if necessary.
Third, use a kitchen timer.

I used to tell the boys "it's Room Time, Yay!" And make it a happy thing. They get to have a bottle of water and a kids cd. They can hear the music and sing along if they like (but it's out of reach). They can play with the toys that are in their rooms.

Once they are in their rooms I'd tell them for 10 minutes (or however long you set the timer) they have to play in their rooms. If they could do it without complaining or poor behavior, we will watch "Between the Lions" together when the timer goes off, or go ride bikes around the block - whatever, some type of reward.

As the boys got used to it, I could extend the time - 20 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.

Hope this helps!

:: Suzanne :: said...

The 'I'm bored' complaint at our house gets chores.

Does she have a Leapad? That kept our little one self-amused.

jen said...

I like the shoe box method mentioned above. I also wonder if a bit of scheduling might help. If she's four, it's possible that she really is bored (in the educational sense, not in the feed-me-more-stuff-to-do sense). I'm totally not one to say that you should indulge your children all day, but could you reschedule so that you give her some time, then have some time to yourself, then give her time, then have some time to yourself. Ex: Eat breakfast together, she plays alone while you clean up, spend 30 min. working on puzzles together, she does something alone for 20 minutes, fix snack together, she eats it alone, you do some alphabet activities with her, she plays alone while you clean, fix & eat lunch together, etc.

We do our days a lot like that, and it works for the most part. My kids understand that there are times that I can be with them and times that I need to get work done.

I hope you find something! :)

LvlyRita said...

I run into the same issue with my kids (age 5, 3, 1). They will be great for awhile (usually 6 mos) than they go through a "let's test mom" time. What works for me is finding a specific behavior to work on (right now it's whining for my 5 yr. old), and try to let everything else go. Of course, certain behaviors can't be ignored, those actions get oneself put into the "naughty spot." Often, if you show that you wonn't be manipulated by their bad behavior it goes away.
It's not unreasonable to expect a child to play independently, as long as they've been given opportunity to play with you. I enjoy the library, giant puzzles, and dancing to loud music. Sounds a bit like a personal ad :) Good luck, mom!