Ask Amy: I feel guilty if I’m not playing with my kids, and let laundry pile up

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Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated Ask Amy column.Tribune Content Agency

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been talking about doing some updating on our house. I would also love to add a fresh coat of paint in one of the rooms, for sure.

But we have two young children (ages 3 and 1). They are at home – all day every day. I’m trying to teach my children a whole bunch of stuff to make sure they thrive.

I feel bad any time I try to do something that isn’t directly benefiting the kids.

I let dishes and laundry pile up for a few days before I actually do anything after they go to bed.

I feel like I’m neglecting them if I don’t spend as much time as possible playing with them.

But is it OK to let them play safely in a different room while I try to get the house in better shape?

How do I let go of the guilt for having my attention elsewhere?

– Feeling Neglectful

Dear Feeling: You’ve got an incomplete idea of how children learn.

Don’t leave them in another room while you work – have them “help” you!

A 1-year-old can clang Tupperware lids together while the elder child stands on a chair to help you to wash non-breakable items.

A 3-year-old can “fold” washcloths when they come out of the dryer.

My point is that there are many, many lessons embedded in house and yard work – and you could use some of these chores to teach your children.

Otherwise – yes, let them play independently for short periods while you do your work.

You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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