There is a lesson we are taught as new moms: take a nap whenever the baby sleeps. It's hard to do. There are so many things to do around the house. Infant-free time seems like the perfect opportunity to clean, catch up on correspondence, work out - whatever else feels pressing. In the long-run, it typically never pays off. We end up like walking zombies who aren't getting enough rest.
The lesson is to follow your child's lead.
This concept can be applied to many areas of parenting. In this case, I'm talking about taking their lead to stay connected to them. When our kids start rejecting us socially (which is completely normal, of course), it's easy to just start doing our own thing, and letting them do theirs. When their preference is to spend their free time away from us, it's tempting to take advantage of the time for ourselves.
But sometimes, you might want to remember the caution to Sleep when the Baby Sleeps, and apply it differently to your older child.
The next time you are tempted to do your own thing, consider taking their lead, and find ways to connect. Maybe it's sitting together quietly reading, or watching their favorite show on TV, or playing a game together. Our kids often struggle socially, and interacting with us is a positive way to help to them improve their interactive skills. As a bonus, it can actually be fun. Besides, before you know it they will grow up and move on, and you'll have plenty of time to do what you want.