As a stay-at-home (OK, a ‘working from home’) Mum three days’ a week, forgive me if I can feel a little badgered into playing.
Sometimes I love it and am happy to bear the brunt of a four-year-old’s pent up energy. Other times? I just want to be left alone for 20 minutes. Maybe an hour. Take my time hanging out the washing, give the house a hoovering, snatch a look at Facebook or hover around the laptop catching up on news and checking out clothes I’d love to buy because there’s a 30% off sale.
“Mum, can you bounce on the trampoline with me?”
“OK, I’ll just finish emptying the dishwasher, then I’ll do it”, I reply. I’m feeling watched!
Having gone through periods where I could quite happily stack up little jobs and engross myself in hours of distracted ‘busyness’, recently I made up a little rhyme that I think epitomises fitting in each other’s needs. After all, we want to play with our children, we know it’s good for them but it’s a mental grind doing stuff that a pre-schooler wants to do. All day.
And so the rhyme goes:
A piece of pie for me and you. I take one bite, you take two. When it’s your turn, I shine the light bright. When it’s mine, I do too.
Still with me? I swear I’ve caught myself reciting this in my head. I snap out of distraction mode to catch the end of a very important sentence! If I’m being shown something, that’s one strike and you’re out material!
While I could be accused of letting my child dictate the play time a bit too much, I now take my own needs fully into account and fit them in. When it’s his time, I’m 100% in.
Remembering this little phrase helps to prevent those half-hearted moments when I reluctantly join in, only to be distracted a few minutes later, flitting to the next thing on my to-do list (it can grow exponentially)! When the light’s on him, I try to just be and play. Willingly, and is often the case, physically as-well as mentally!
I know its a chunk of time well spent and I can be in charge of when it starts and ends, setting expectations at the start and discussing what happens next. Perhaps the Lego or felts and paper, a puzzle, a library book about dragons or, dare I say it and if all else fails, an hour’s TV or tablet time.
We each have our own ideas and strategies, this is one of mine.
If you’re clear of nappies, you’re probably an expert at this already. But if like me, you find yourself leaving a room of grumpy kids with a trail of excuses to delay the inevitable, why not humor yourself with a similar strategy, set them up with a full tank then take that lunch break guilt-free! You deserve it.