Post # 1
I read this article earlier on today and it reminded me of a “discussion” I’d had with a colleague a few months ago. Now, I don’t have children yet and Im not yet married and currently live alone so my daily responsibilities are only to myself and three guinea pigs. My colleague is married and has a son who is about 15 months old.
We were discussing one morning about housework, laundry etc. and she was talking about how she never has time to do everything – work, look after her son, look after the house etc. and I responded by saying that surely she must have had more time when she was off on maternity leave. According to my colleague, she did not have more time then because she had to watch her son.
Now, I understand that watching young children is vital, I work with them, but surely you would find time within the day to do other tasks whilst watching your baby. Obviously babies and children need regular interaction but they also need to be able to, as the article says, entertain themselves.
So, parents, not-parents, people with young children in their family, people who regularly see young children, what are your thoughts? Should children be left to their own devices some of the time or should they be constantly entertained by their parents and other adults.
I remember a child a few years ago in our class who was so used to being entertained by adults that all she could manage was five minutes of play before she would come and stand by an adult, waiting for one of them to “entertain” her. She eventually learned that we would not give her attention for this and soon learnt to play for longer periods. It was in these times that we praised her.
Post # 3
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
@FromA2B2013: That is why I loved the book Bringing up Bebe. It was written by an American woman who moved to France and raised her children there. So compared the American parenting style to the French parenting style and one of the biggest differences she pointed out was what you are talking about where American parents are constantly entertaining and stimulating their kids. It was a very interesting read and I plan on using some of her observations of French parenting with my children.
Post # 4
@beachbride1216: that sounds like a good book. I might see if I can find it 🙂
Post # 5
I don’t know how you expect a newborn to entertain itself haha which is how old her baby was for most of her maternity leave. I think people are pretty quick to assume that a woman has infinite amounts of free time on maternity leave which is just not the case! If the baby doesn’t need something, there is something to be cleaned or prepared, and the mother still needs to shower and feed herself at bare minimum! I expect I will have very little free time when it finally comes time to be a mom for me.
That being said, though, I was an only child for 20 years and I entertained myself like no other. My dad took me everywhere, on all his errands, and pretty much just ignored me while he did other things and it made me use my imagination and play by myself for a huge chunk of the day. It was good for me and I didn’t mind! Because he kind of let me run wild, though, I did do some weird stuff. Like once when I was 2 and my dad let me run around the banks of the lake while he was fishing, I ate all of his live bait …. Yeahhhh. And once when I was older I collected a bunch of pinecones, painted on them, and went door to door in my neigborhood selling them for $1. Luckily I wasn’t kidnapped. But my dad had no clue I was up to anything funky until I came home and showed him my $15! Lol.
Post # 6
Honestly, I couldn’t manage to get much housework accomplished while I was on maternity leave… BUT- I was only home for 5 1/2 weeks and I spent TONS of time feeding the baby, changing the baby, pumping to build a freezer stash of milk, cleaning pump parts, and by the time I was able to make a snack to eat the baby was up needing to be fed again. I often had to pick between taking a nap or a shower while the baby was asleep.
That said, if I had off for the entire first year, yes at some point the child needs to learn some self-soothing techniques and be able to sit in a bouncy seat, swing, or lay on a play mat for a little bit at a time.
Post # 7
well in this scenario a newborn cannot be left to their own devices to entertain themselves – they don’t know how to self soothe yet, so I don’t doubt on maternity leave she didn’t have time. She was probably exhausted, and sleeping when her baby sleeps was probably a major prioity over cleaning up the house and doing other things.
That being said, I think it’s very important for children to learn to entertain themselves for both the child and the parents’ sake. My sister could not entertain herself for the life of her, but I was always great about it.
Post # 8
So…..this constant need to “entertain” the child.
Is this why you have mothers (sometimes dad’s) saying they don’t have enough time in the day to take a long shower? or paint their toes? or….do their hair? Because I don’t understand that. What could you possibly be doing with your kids 24/7 to where you can’t be alone in the bathroom.
The doctor I work for says once I have children I’ll never be able to take a bath again. I beg to differ.
Post # 9
@FromA2B2013: It isn’t sustainable to constantly entertain your children and I remember that I liked to play alone from time to time when I was little (though that was hard with 4 siblings running around). My sister is a soon to be mother of 4 and there is no way she could entertain all of them all day long. It is important for everyone to have activities they like to do and to have people to spend time with other than their parents.
Post # 10
I meant to mention also that I did a bit of ‘baby wearing’ when I was on maternity leave. I have a sling as well as a Moby wrap, so on more than one occasion I would wrap DD to me so I could run the vacuum or make a sandwich. She would inevitably fall asleep since it closely simulates the feeling of being tucked into the womb. So, I suppose even when she was very very young I was still able to do some stuff.
Post # 11
I’m not a parent, but I agree that children do need to be able to play on their own. Of course you should play with your children and interact with them, but it fosters independence and possibly even self esteem to be able to entertain themselves and learn on their own.
Post # 12
@beachbride1216: I have this book on my Amazon wishlist.
I agree that it’s not sustainable to try to entertain your children 24/7. That would get old, fast. The difference I see between parents who do this and parents who don’t is crazy! I understand that, as infants, kids need a lot more care, but that’s what wraps/babywearing, bouncy seats, etc. are for.
@208bride: That being said, though, I was an only child for 20 years and I entertained myself like no other. My dad took me everywhere, on all his errands, and pretty much just ignored me while he did other things and it made me use my imagination and play by myself for a huge chunk of the day. It was good for me and I didn’t mind! Because he kind of let me run wild, though, I did do some weird stuff.
LOL Same here. 🙂
Post # 13
My niece has unfortunately been really spoiled in this regard — she can’t even fall asleep for a nap unless someone is holding her. She cannot entertain herself whatsoever for any length of time. I think it’s really common with first children, since new parents don’t really know they’re doing any damage until it’s too late and now your kid won’t go to sleep! So I am trying my best to learn from my sister’s mistakes, and hopefully my kid will be a bit better at just playing with her toys by herself without screaming for attention all the time!
Post # 14
This colleague was off from April to January of the following year so I think her son was eventually of an age of self-soothing.
I think this adds to my theory on oldest children and only children. This isn’t true of all oldest children but a lot that I know really enjoy being around and with others and do not enjoy time by themselves. Whereas, siblings who come later on tend to be more happy to spend time by themselves. This is probably because when there is only one then parents have only one child to give their attention to, but when another comes along, the younger learns to be by themselves as there is someone else who needs the attention, and is happy with it because it is all they have known. I am the youngest in my family and I enjoy my own company. My sister who is the eldest, prefers to be around others.
Post # 15
@iarebridezilla: My parents told me once that my sister would only fall asleep if someone sat next to the bed and then when you’d think she was asleep and go to leave, you would suddenly hear a voice, “where are you going?”
suffice to say I will be encouraging my children to fall asleep by themselves from as early as possible. However, encouraging my FH to do this may be more a bit more tricky He is definitely more of a soft-touch when it comes to our guinea pigs so it will be interesting what he is like with our children!
Post # 16
My little guy is 8 months, and definitely does some self-entertainment. He crawls around and stands up and chats and comes over to me periodically for reinforcement, but I can surf weddingbee (I mean, do work…) or
But no, @skippydarling: , I don’t think that’s why people say that. I said that when my little guy was between 1 and 4 months, because they actually need you CONSTANTLY. They cannot do anything (even lie on a blanket) for more than a minute or so without you. Now that my guy is a bit older, though, I can leave him for a few minutes (though it was easier when he wasn’t mobile and couldn’t hurt himself…)
ETA:Kids who don’t learn to entertain themselves become the kids that continually tell you they are bored. But I don’t think you can really expect them to really entertain themselves much earlier than age 1 or so.