Quite often people will comment on how good my children are at independent play. I say, “Yeah, well that’s what you get when you ignore them”, and they laugh, and I say,” No, really”, and they laugh again, but more nervously.
I must emphasise that by ignoring the kids, I don’t mean actual neglect. If they were on fire, or in danger or about to mess with my stuff, I would respond. What I mean by ignoring the kids, is getting on with things while they play or watch TV, rather than go from one stimulating, educational interactive activity to the next.
You may get from this, that I let my kids watch TV all day, that’s not true, they also have computer games and YouTube.
I’m not pretending that this is great parenting, but I am suggesting that it is realistic parenting and there are some positives to it.
For example they are good at playing on their own and with each other, and when they do have my attention, they have my full attention as I’m not thinking about what else I could be doing because I’ve already done it.
I just don’t find playing with kids holds my attention for very long. Unlike my husband who plays with Lego for hours, long after the children have gone to bed.
It is quite possible that most parents are like me, but perhaps don’t express it in such a blunt way.
Whenever a mum goes back to work and is inexplicably compelled justify it, she’ll often say that while she adores being with the kids, she needed more “challenge”, or had to have more intellectual or creative stimulation. I’d love it though if we felt free enough to admit returning to work is about having a justifiable excuse to ignore the kids for a few hours a day. This goes for the dads too.
Anyway, having ignored the boys while I wrote this, I’m now going to do something with them. Nah, not really.