Q: I am a single mom of an almost five-year-old son. He spends all day at a 4K/Headstart program and I spend all day at work or school. We live in an apartment and the minute we get home the neighbor kids want to play with my son. Is it okay to not let him play EVERY day? Or should I just limit the time? Honestly, I want a relaxing night with my son sometimes. Some of these kids are playing the second they get home until bedtime. It feels like too much for me.
A: Guess what, Mom? YOU get to decide the schedule for your very busy household! A tired, stressed-out mama is a recipe for a stressed-out family, so YOUR peace of mind comes first. Decide what works best for you, and rehearse a simple explanation for setting the limit with playtime. Send the neighbors home with a cheerful, "See you tomorrow, guys! It's family time now." Explain to your son that he will see his friends tomorrow, and that it's time for dinner and a bath and a relaxing evening together. And don't apologize. You're setting the tone for the rhythm and pace of your family's schedule, and that's YOURS to set. This is an important component to a happy family life! Hang in there, and your son will adjust. I think you'll both enjoy the down-time together!