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I have 3 years old twins and I have a problem that I don't have any personal time, because when I finish my job and go home, they ask me to play with them all time I spent at home.

When I go to work, they don't like it, but I tell that it is required to go to work and I have no choice; the same I can tell when I eat or go to bathroom.

But what if I will tell that I need to read book for fun (i. e. that I prefer to read book instead of playing with them at least sometimes)? Will it harm child, and if yes, at what age I can start to explain that I need also personal time and that I prefer to be alone sometimes?

If possible, I prefer answers that have any references to any scientific data sources about this problem (personal time vs parenting); I googled a lot of this topic, but I didn't find any detailed recommendations.

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    Are you the only parent, or is there another parent? Are there other family members? – Joe Oct 10 at 14:07
  • There are other parent and other family members. Mother sits with them all day long (she is a housewife), so they have enough time spent with mother, and when I at home, they prefer to play with me. They especially dislike when I read book or watch TV, even when they play with each other, they still require my exclusive attention and when I just open book, they start to protest. – Vitalii Oct 11 at 5:55
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    I am also a working parent of a preschooler, and I understand your want (need really) for personal time when you get home. Yet it's also very healthy and normal that they need you and missed you, and prefer your company during the fairly brief time you are home with them. I entirely sympathize with the feeling that you have no time when you get to do anything of your own choice, but your children's behavior is developmentally appropriate and a sign of a healthy attachment to you. – Meg Oct 14 at 15:06
  • I don't mean to sound harsh but being a parent means you give up your "personal time" until they're asleep. They grow up quickly and one day you will regret not spending time with them when they wanted you. Blink and you miss it. They miss you all day, and they're your kids too, Your wife probably needs "pre-bed time off" more than you do. Work is easier than caring for small children all day. – bigbadmouse Oct 21 at 10:31
  • You're not alone, I am in an almost exact situation, except that I have a 3 years old and a newborn. My wife is also a housewife, etc. I tell my son I want to read, or I just go for it. Sometimes it works, but most of the times it doesn't. – thermomagnetic condensed boson Oct 24 at 17:36
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(I've been torn as to whether to post an answer or a comment, as I don't really agree with the question, but as I do provide some suggestions, I decided to post them here.)

From the outset, it looks like you're away all day working, and this question regards the few hours between the time when you get home from work, and the kids get to bed (I get that this varies). In this situation, I would find it more problematic if your children didn't crave your attention at that age.

Over time, I predict that this will change. I gather that you're asking for scientific sources and evidence of harm, but I think part of the reason why you haven't been able to find anything specific enough is that it's the wrong question to ask.

The change won't be that it'll be gradually less hurtful to your children when you tell them you'd rather read a book than engage with them. It'll be that they gradually will be less interested in you, and your question will grow obsolete.

My main suggestion for the few years when your children view you as an interesting play partner is simply: Save that book until they've gone to bed.

But I get that the need for personal time is very individual, so that may be a big ask for you. If so, my second suggestion would be to satisfy that need outside of the house, or arrange for your kids to leave the house (or room, or field of view, whatever is sufficient) with the other parent. I don't have evidence of harm readily available, but I do think you'll build better relationships with your children if they see you taking an active interest in them whenever you're physically present. It seems your kids are already doing their part in that emotional labor.

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    I think this is an interesting post, but I do not think it meets the standards requested by the poster - they are asking for a scientific answer, and this does not provide that, nor does it really answer the stated question (at what age is it acceptable). Disagreeing with the premise of the question is appropriate for comments, not for answers. – Joe Oct 14 at 15:13
  • @Joe: I had the same conserns myself, so I see where you're coming from. I started typing this out in comments, but eventually found it had enough advice for the described situation, if not to the question exactly as stated, to qualify as an answer, so I moved to answers, perhaps erroneously. – David Hedlund Oct 14 at 16:07
  • And when this "day D" when child will start to prefer to play on its own has to appear? – Vitalii Oct 15 at 10:37
  • @Vitalii: I get what you're saying but I think you'll be hard pressed to find a useful specific scientific reference to something that individual, but again, that's just disagreeing with the question and perhaps this is not the place. I still think it's the only feasible response. – David Hedlund Oct 15 at 11:27
  • Hiding from your kids to read or only reading when they are asleep is something I disagree with and research does to. Role-modeling reading with them and finding age appropriate books they can flip through while you read is better. You may not get a 1 hour or so reading session in, but you'll bond with your kids and pass on a skill they will use for the rest of their lives. Parallel playing is a name for this concept and it is a crucial social development skill. – Adam Heeg Oct 25 at 15:04
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Twins. That's double what I had to raise, so bless you for that alone. And no, wanting time alone isn't at all a bad thing, especially if you want to ask them to step aside while you do it. I won't go into the why, I'll just link a few sites below that talks about something else: stress. You wanting to read a book, and do it without their clinging (not used negatively here) is not a bad thing. In fact, it may be your body and mind telling you that you need some alone time. And that is okay. Let me tell you what my wife does (she is a special education teacher):

Being with, having to make decisions for, and getting fussed or yelled at by kids all day, the last thing my wife wants to deal with when she gets home is more kids. Mine included. So we have a method that helps her get some alone time to reboot each day. When she gets home (I am almost always here before her), she comes inside with the kids, who ride with her to and from school, tells me hello, tells me anything that may be important with grades, homework, or if a test is the next day, and she walks into the bedroom and closes the door. In there she will stay for at least 30 minutes.

Why? To reboot. She's stressed out, her day is over, and she needs to get her head right. I don't know what she does in that 30 minutes because I leave her alone. After 45 minutes, which doesn't happen often, I'll go in after her, but that is rare. The kids understand that it's 'mommy time' and we cannot bother her. For any reason. So we don't. But I take over the parenting, and 9/10 times we gather the pups up and walk them for about 20 minutes to let them get out of the house and stretch their legs. There are even days where I boot up Mario Kart 8 and we do that until she reboots.

Why does she need to have time alone? Well, I can go into many reasons, but stress is the key factor here. You are stressed. And your mind and body are telling you. With your wife being home all day, it's likely she'll get her 30 minutes first, get a break from the kiddos, which means you have to step in and parent while she debunks some stress away from the kids. The kids will be focused on you, then when she's back, you can take a break from them long enough to debunk the stress of your workday. Is 30 minutes enough? Too long? Who knows. But you definitely need to put aside some time you two can get some mind-right reboots and bring the kids in to understand you need it and even reward them sometimes when they give it to you.

Sometimes on Friday, especially if the bread is getting old, we grab the loaf of bread and head over to the duck pond a few miles away. The kids get out and throw bread while we watch and assist and it lets them interact with the animals. Sometimes other friends and families are out there and the kids will join in with other kids and socialize, and we have a few regulars out there that we know by first name, but outside of that interaction we don't know them. I do that to reward them for giving us some free time. There are other times where I bring them an Icee or a pint of ice cream to share and use the alone time as a reason to reward them, even if I am only doing it for naught. I love my kiddos, they know and understand that, and their health, mentally and physically is important to me. I also tell them that sometimes they just need a break from us. They are on board and do not disturb my wife when she closes that door.

It works for us. It does a lot of good for my wife. And the kids understand it and learn that sometimes taking a break from it all is what you need to detox the days stresses from your life.

You may not be able to do it the way I do, but you definitely need some alone time, wife included, and science definitely backs that claim. I couldn't find any specifics on the science, but I found a few links you may want to view for a quick read. Good luck, and bless you for that amazing and rewarding set of twins you have there.

Links: Psychology Today 1 | Pshycology Today 2 |

Dagburn I typed a lot. So sorry about that. Anywho, as long as you aren't ignoring your kids, you shouldn't be too worried. They will understand that alone time is great, for everyone, themselves included. Here is one more link where solitude is discussed in further detail and quite a few sources in that article.

  • i don't totally agree, but I do see truth in some of what you say. Its a good answer. Have a newbie point boost. – bigbadmouse Oct 22 at 11:15
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It's a marathon and not a sprint. You can't be the best parent you can be without balance in your life.

I would take your personal time out of view of the children so it doesn't look like a certain activity is "more important" than the children. The younger they are, the less likely they are to understand it, but your partner can explain that Daddy/Mommy will be available in 30 minutes.

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