tired-momI am mum to two year old twins and a five year old and I feel guilty that I can't give them the attention I should. I'm tired a lot and leave them to play with each other. Is this wrong? How much attention should I be giving them? Tired mum

Parenting is a job that involves a lot of tiredness in the early years and a lot of guilt for the whole of it.  As parents we often feel guilty that we are not spending enough time with our children playing.  What you did with your first child is impossible to do with a second, or more.  You need to adapt your expectations and ideals as too what you are capable of doing.

The benefit of having more than one child is that they have each other to play with, they have siblings and learn such a lot from this relationship and the play, fights and negotiation that this surely brings.  The first born only has parents in the home so their relationship and play is different, and often we teach them a lot more than we do to our following children.  Don’t despair, they too will learn from their siblings in many, many ways.

How much attention should you be giving them?  A question that has many answers,  I would say that each of your children, need your undivided attention (yes this means, not thinking about the next load of washing that has to go out, what you need to organize, tidy, clean, pick up, post, cook etc).  The list is absolutely endless of what you have to do, so it takes a new skill to  mentally  push all those “I should be……” thoughts away and just focus on your child.  So your undivided attention for at least 10 minutes a day.  So between all three of your children that would be 30 mins a day.

Sounds easy doesn’t it!  But it is so hard to start finding that 30 minutes.  My best tips for this is to start early in the morning, don’t leave it till after lunch and the afternoon.  For a couple of reasons.  First it’s mentally better to know you have done it early on rather than chasing it all day.  Secondly your children will be satisfied emotionally that you have spent time with them and will play more independently and better by themselves for the rest of the day.  Thirdly mornings are best for your children too.

Explain what is happening to each, call it “play time with mummy” set the others up with activities etc while you sit down and play with ‘whatever’ your child wants to play with, not what you want to play with!  They will soon get the hang of it, and start to not interrupt others ‘play’ as they value theirs.  If you can do the 10 minutes each, I would aim to get it to 20 mins for each child.  This is ideal.  Make this a priority before other activities.  And try not to listen to those guilty thoughts as well!!

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