Child-Led Vs. Parent-Led

How much time do you spend with your kids? One-on-one. It’s a genuine question. How much time do you spend play-playing with your kids. [Play-Play Definition for the clarity of this blog post– Child-Led Play. Doing what they want you to do, imaginary games, etc.] I’m torn. I grew up with the generation of parents that spent time with you, but didn’t necessarily Play-Play with you. They might play Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders with you, but that’s different. They didn’t spend an hour or more a day, on the floor playing blocks, playing imaginary games, playing baby dolls, etc. They might help to facilitate your play. They might set up the pool in the backyard, draw a hopscotch for you, set up stuff to draw with, maybe sit with you and draw for a few minutes even. But Play-Play was reserved for you, siblings, schoolmates, cousins, grandparents, etc. Don’t get me wrong, my parents definitely spent time with me, and I always felt loved, but the play was different then. I would have thought it was so silly if my mom came in the play room with me and Play-Played for an extended period of time. Today, the parenting status quo is more about catering to the child. Engaging with them exclusively. Letting them lead the play. It’s difficult for me because I know that I grew up well, but I can’t help but feel selfish if I am not engaged with my kids or I spend too much time to myself, playing a game on my phone, watching a show on Netflix, or reading. Parents get critiqued all the time today for “missing moments”. I have seen multiple articles berating that parent at the park who dared be on their phone when their child was trying to catch their eye on the monkey bars. It is not as acceptable to go to the park and engage in your own business while your child engages in theirs. I’m also not suggesting that we put our children’s safety at risk by being overly absorbed in our activities. Our parents may not have had phones, but adults when I was a kid still had their hobbies that they did instead of “engaging” with us. This was accepted. It was not expected that the parent revolve their life around their child.

What is the balance? One of A’s first phrases was, “play with me” It was cute at first, but then I started to dread it. 25 times a day. After awhile I start to feel guilty with all my excuses. I try to spend time with my kids, but I can’t realistically Play-Play that much with my children. I have constant feelings and thoughts of guilt and selfishness circulating through my head. “Kids are only young so long. Someday she won’t want to play with me anymore.” But are those valid reasons? Should my day revolve around my kids? I only have 2 kids and I don’t work outside of the home. I undoubtedly have more time than the average mom. In spite of this, I still feel that there is not enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done; Upkeep the house, cook (there is not a lot E can eat that can be bought from the store) upkeep the family, upkeep myself and still spend what my guilt feels like is adequate amounts of time with my kids.
With E’s issues, he has a lot of therapy appointments. In addition, I’m supposed to spend a certain amount of one-on-one time with him a day interacting, doing sensory and language therapy at home, and drawing him out of repetitions. I try to do this when A is otherwise engaged, and in turn spend one-on-one time with her during the day. But does that one-on-one time have to be playing? When she demands that I Play-Play, is it okay to turn her down? Is spending time together while I get things done and a small amount of parent-led play sufficient? I am asking, because I genuinely do not know. Please comment with all the mommy advice you have. Or daddy advice.

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