Thursday, October 21, 2010

Playtime Perspectives

Sometimes I ignore Isaac.

No- that's not quite right. Sometimes I don't give him my undivided attention.

No, I ignore him. But not in a neglectful way.

Or is it?

That's what I'm trying to figure out.

When I leave the house, I immediately put him in a carrier and subsequently ignore him for the duration of the walk or errand. In the carrier, he can nurse as much as he wants, so he's not neglected in that area, but as for my attention- which is split between chasing Margaret and actually completing the intended errand- he doesn't get much.

When I come home, it's easier to continue ignoring him in the carrier as I fix lunch or whatever else.

Then some time later, I'll remember, "Oh I'm probably supposed to play with him!" So then I turn to him and he gets giggly and we play for a little while. But then it goes back to ignoring him.

It was like this with Margaret as well, but I think Isaac gets it more because life is simply busier this time around.

I know there's one line of thinking that babywearing allows your baby to participate in your day to day activities and so they learn how to be a person by watching your daily goings. I know Margaret was easily following conversations at a few months old, which I credit to her being close to me most of the day.

When I do remember to play with him, he is so happy I wonder if I'm ignoring him too much. Is he so happy because he's starved for attention? Does my "Oh I should be playing with you" guilt come from my mom sense that he does need more attention or from ingrained cultural expectations? I really can't tell.

He does get his diaper changed regularly and we EC him part time. I nurse on cue. He does get my attention enough to keep him alive. I know it's excessive to feel like I need to play with him 24/7, but 30 minutes of play (playing "Superbaby", cooing at him, etc.) in a 24 hour period is kind of my average right now. I'm embarrassed that that is a generous estimate of the average.

I don't know. What do you think? If I need to step up my game, I can do that.

Comments very welcome.


  1. Katelyn2:32 PM

    I have a 3 month old - my only child so take from it what you will. I understand having to split your attention between children and chores.

    I think some children are content to just be close to "the action" if you will as long as their other needs are met (food/diaper/naps. Other children may want/demand more interaction.

    My son will tolerate my inattention for the length of a 20-30 min walk b/c he has other things to hold his attention and even then I normally talk to him quite a bit. At home, again I talk to him a lot telling him what I'm doing (silly conversations about laundry/dishes/etc. b/c if I don't keep up some back and forth interaction he gets upset. He can be sitting w/n my arms reach with a toy but if it been "too long," maybe 5 minutes, since someone made eye contact he'll suddenly shriek and start crying very upset.

    A lot of words to say as long as he seems happy, I think you are fine. I'm assuming McKay also plays with him some too?.

  2. I agree with Katelyn. It sounds like you are meeting the basic needs. If he needed more (interaction or whatever) he would let you know. Sounds like you have a content baby. How lovely!

  3. I am thinking this a case of toddler/baby confusion. My understanding is that babies really don't need a ton of playing attention as long as their needs are being met which you are definitely doing. You are touching him constantly, feeding him, keeping him comfortable. He can hear your voice, feel your warmth etc.

    The confusion I think is because you are used to a toddler Margaret who DOES need lots of attention. I noticed that I felt the same thing when I babysat babies vs. watching my daughter and then I realized, hey, they don't seem to need it. In fact too much of it and they get overwhelmed.

    You are doing great!

  4. I think of less importance is how much he needs that interaction, and how much you need it. He'll never be this age again, and if he is so content and happy, he could probably offer a lot to you right now. It sounds like his needs are being met, and I think no matter how much time you spend on your baby, you will still miss them at certain ages, of course still loving them. But I think that's more what matters, is just that you feel like you will feel good with the time you spent with him, because it sounds like he is doing well and is content.

  5. Don't feel guilty. That is what comes with having more than 1 child. I knew I would never be able to give Leo as much attention as Bella got but he gets a lot now. I think it will balance out more when he starts interacting more. For now, enjoy that he is still kind of in the "blob" stage where you feed them, hold them, adn change them adn they are content. In a few months, it will most likely change. You are a great mom and your children are lucky to have you.

  6. Wait till you have four kids.

    (just kidding, I might have something else to add.)

    I think as long as he's happy, and he's not being pacified by something artificial (like, tv for e.g.), he's fine. Younger kids get less parental attention, no way around it, but they also get big siblings. I'm assuming Margaret plays with him, too, and that will increase as they both get older.

  7. Have you read "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Liedloff yet? I'm going to go out on a limb and say you probably haven't gotten around to it yet or you wouldn't ask if you need to pay more attention to Isaac. ;)

    Jean asserts in her book that infants need to be carried or in constant contact with someone - preferably the mother. The infant should be permitted to observe, co-sleep, nurse on cue, have caregivers immediately respond to signals and "sense elders' expectations that he or she is innately social and cooperative and has strong self-preservation instincts and that he or shee is welcome and worthy."

    You're doing a great job of mothering both of your children and it certainly sounds as if Isaac is being appropriately socialized. :)

  8. I don't have a solid answer, but my gut says you are not doing anything wrong. I feel guilty sometimes for how little I really play with my daughter and she's 1.5. When I get home from work there is usually at least one chore that needs doing, and then I'm tired so I sit and watch her play instead of getting down on her level. She seems happy, but I feel guilty that I'm not actively playing with her every evening.

  9. I am a firm believer in following your gut when it comes to mothering. I would venture a guess that I does not need as much attention right now. He will let you know when he needs more. Maybe just being close to Mama is enough. And just bc you are not "playing" does not mean he is not listening and learning to follow conversation and retaining information.

  10. Babies are very capable of letting you know whether or not their needs are being met. At least with my kids, that includes letting me know (fussing) when they need more or less interaction. I'm sure Isaac would let you know if you were ever guilty if neglecting him. The way I see it, if he's happy, you're obviously doing a great job.


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