Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just a little bit

Confession time--I've realized I don't spend a lot of quality time with my kids. Of course, being a stay-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time with them doing things that need to be done...but honestly the things they want me to do with them are boring. Toys made for toddlers and preschoolers aren't usually that interesting to a 33-year-old. Same goes for games. And books.

But what hit me the other day is that just a little bit of time spent doing something fun with them means a lot. In the long run, they'll remember those little bits of time more than all the "have to" stuff I do (feeding them, bathing them, breaking up their arguments.)

One game of Candy Land takes about 10 minutes. Sure, Zoodle ends up moving the game pieces when he's not supposed to, but the kids both still have fun, and they appreciate the time with me. And I know if I play simple games with them now, when they get older they'll be better able to learn the complex games. (You know, the ones that are actually fun!)

A few days ago Chickie asked me to play with Play-Doh with her. I'll admit, I actually enjoyed making an elephant, a cat, and a lion out of Play-Doh. After a little while I was ready to do something else, but I was glad I'd invested that time with her.

I've always read to them, but I'm trying to do so more consistently. Books for kids their age are short, and when they get into longer chapter books we can read a little at a time.

I shy away from anything boring. I tend to enjoy teenagers a whole lot more than preschoolers. So it's been very freeing to me to realize that my kids' boring-to-me, fun-to-them activities can be short activities. I don't have to spend my whole day in "their world."

I want my kids to spend lots of time entertaining themselves and each other. I think that's very important as they develop independence and creativity. But by letting go of my adult self...and my adult selfishness...for a quick game or book, I can enrich their lives immeasurably through the years. Ten minutes at a time.

11 comments:

Megan Fletcher said...

Yes, yes, yes! And, I don't do it nearly enough. Thank you for the reminder this morning!!! Lots of time spent together, but little quality time on many days. May you have the wisdom to see those windows of time and discipline to set yourself aside to invest--praying the same for myself. You're a good mom, Beth!

Tia said...

Try the game Sorry. Ellie learned it quick and it's fun for me too! I get bored to tears some days but try and remember how fast it's going!

Carol said...

I don't do it enough either, especially with my 3-year-old. Thanks for the reminder!

Eternal Lizdom said...

Great post! I am one who enjoys playing with the kids- always have. I guess it's a chance for me to get back to childhood and also a way for me to see inside my kids a little bit. I will admit that my idea of fun doesn't awlays match their ideas... but I can usually sway them pretty easily to something I want to do. But given that I like to play with play doh or barbies or do puzzles, it isn't often that I have to sway them.

Melinda said...

I struggle a little with playing with my son. It is best if it happens in small chunks so I don't get bored. I am so amazing with how focused he can get into his little world of play. It is too bad that is something most of us grow out of.

Janell said...

This is so true, Beth! I think many of us moms have similar feelings. One game I enjoy (more than the average kid game) with my girls is Guess Who?. I get really bored playing Little People (the toys, not the actual people). :) Dee really enjoys "helping" in the kitchen, and since I'm in there a lot anyway it's usually easy for me to find something for her to do. One of my biggest struggles is that my youngest, much unlike my oldest, does NOT like to play alone. EVER. She can be pretty relentless. That's why preschool is so great! I could go on and on about this...

Lara said...

What I have to do to maintain my sanity is spend 15-20 minutes doing an activity with them and then go do something I have to do (usually housework) then more playtime.

If it makes you feel any better, I think constant "quality time" teaches our kids that we are here for their entertainment. When I was growing up my mom never sat down and played with us, but we have a very strong relationship anyway.

Angela said...

Try Hi Ho Cherry-O. Paige could play it for hours! Games are quick and it's an easy concept. As soon as Zoodle starts counting he can play with her too.

LEstes65 said...

Can I tell you? I was blessed to be raised by a SAHM. I have amazing memories of her being near me doing stuff. Sitting in her floor playing with a jar of buttons while she did her hair. Being in the next room as she folded laundry. I also have amazing memories of her coloring in coloring books with me, playing playdoh, letting me help bake/cook. All that time you're doing the necessities within ear/eye-shot? They count. They count big.

forever folding laundry said...

You're right: it's important and it's sometimes tough. I have to make a conscious effort, too, to not fill up my entire day with stuff I "have to do" around the house. Making time for a game or a cuddle or book during the day is the good stuff. :)

~Keri

Sandra said...

I believe you will reap huge benefits in the future from the wise parenting choices you are making now, like these "little bits" of time with your kids.

You are a good mommy and it's great that you find the time to blog, because I'm sure you are a good example to some other young mothers who can benefit from your ideas about parenting. :)