Playing Alone: The Challenge of Always Having a Playmate

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For this weekend’s screen time, my 7-year-old twin daughters, M and J, requested 30 minutes each on a game on my computer. Everything went well during M’s turn. J worked on her knitting and waited her turn patiently while I cleaned the kitchen.

During J’s turn, things turned sour. M asked if she could watch J play, and she said yes, as long as M watched quietly. M simply couldn’t resist offering advice and J soon banished her.

“I’m bored!” M complained.
“Go play,” I suggested, still cleaning.
“I can’t play by myself!” M insisted. “I have no one to play with.”
“Read a book.”
“Clean your desk. Write a story. Draw a picture. Sing a song,” I offered. “Put on a puppet show. Make a necklace.”
“Mom! I cannot play with myself. I have no experience playing by myself. J likes knitting. I don’t.” M pulled her favourite complaint: “It’s not fair.”
“I agree that it’s not fair,” I countered, “to all the kids in the world who don’t have a brother or sister and have to play alone most of the time while you almost always have J to play with.”
“No! It’s not fair to me!” M insisted. “I have no experience playing by myself because I have a twin. That’s what’s not fair.”

This conversation wasn’t going to go anywhere. I just went back to my cleaning and let her rail.

Playing Alone: The challenge of always having a playmate from An hour later, I observed J back at her knitting while M composed at the piano. Clearly, she had no trouble finding something to do by herself when she felt like it.

Still, I couldn’t help thinking that beneath the silliness, she had a point. That common comment people make on seeing twins, “They’ll always have someone to play with,” has been completely true at our house. (I’m aware that it isn’t true for all twins.) M, more than J, struggles with the idea of having to be alone. She’s right. She doesn’t have much experience at this.

How do your multiples react to playing alone or having to be alone?

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

2 thoughts on “Playing Alone: The Challenge of Always Having a Playmate”

  1. My kids LOVE playing alone (for as long as 13 month olds are content to play alone). Sometimes they need a little help choosing an activity, but once they get started, they are quite content. It will be interesting to see how this changes as they age. I hope they always enjoy their individual space…when they can get it!

  2. One of my daughters is much more comfortable playing alone – she loves drawing and coloring, or looking at books, while her sister gets bored of those things quicker; she’ll just lie down and take a nap if she is truly bored. They are silly.

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