Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day and I’m pleased to announce that we are all writing on the topic of Independent Playtime! We have an amazing variety of topics to share with you today, from the benefits of independent play, to the how-to’s of it and more! Please see the bottom of the post for a full list of titles and links to these amazing posts.
In this post you’ll find why I’ve been inconsistent along with some of our struggles, you’ll get a look at our schedule, 3 options for incorporating independent play, and our goals in preparation for Baby V #2.
So much about Babywise- I’m good at. And by good I mean I figure it out, I find what works for us, and I am consistent with it. When it comes to room time (independent playtime), I figure it out, I find what works for us, but then I’m NOT at all consistent.
I feel like there is not enough time in our days for me to be consistent with this, and I honestly like to go out and do things so much more than I like to stay home (as does Caroline). As a result, independent playtime gets cut. Unfortunately, this is not an area to skimp on. I’ve noticed that when Caroline isn’t getting her independent playtime, she becomes much more clingy and whiny, and well generally less independent.
Now, the reality is that, while I don’t always have a routine of doing formal independent play, we’ve established a casual independence that has come over time. We’ve done formal independent playtime, and it worked great. Then Caroline would go through a rough patch and I didn’t have the heart to let her cry for me in her room, so we’d take a break. I always wanted to keep it a positive experience, so if it wasn’t working for a season, we stopped. This is how my inconsistencies with it evolved. I am a huge fan of independent playtime, but it didn’t work at every age for us. The breaks caused me to be lax about it, and as a result, we’ve become much more casual with it.
With baby #2 arriving in 7 months, I’d like to establish a better rhythm and routine with Caroline’s independent playtime. We all know that with a toddler and a baby, the baby is going to win out at times and just require more of my attention. I’d love Caroline to feel comfortable with independent playtime again. This way, when my attention is needing to be placed on the baby, she’s comfortable playing or continuing an activity on her own.
Our basic schedule
If we go out, it’s between breakfast and lunch
1-4 nap (no she does not usually nap this entire time anymore, but I leave her for quiet time most days)
Here’s what I struggle with:
I have appointments to go to- those happen before lunch.
If we have a playdate or activity scheduled- it happens before lunch. We tend to go out if we can because Caroline is at an age where she just loves to socialize and she loves to be outdoors.
As a result, our mornings tend to be pretty full.
Once a week, Caroline goes to school and this takes up the entire morning and shifts her nap to a later time. This is about to change to twice a week, but for a shorter time period.
Once a week, Caroline goes to gymnastics. This takes up a good chunk of time in the morning.
After dinner is family time. It is the only time we see Daddy, so this can’t be taken up with independent playtime.
This leaves me a few options for independent playtime…
Formal Room Time- Caroline used to be FANTASTIC at this. I’d put her in her room for up to a full hour, and she’d play, read, rest, etc. I have gotten away from doing this because she had a few seasons where this was far from her idea of fun and she’d cry and scream for me. I don’t know why the change, because at times she LOVED it. I do know, that I’d like to get back to doing this at least once a week, This ideally has to happen on days we stay home, otherwise we simply run out of time.
Casual Independent Play– This happens naturally for us, and Caroline is much more accepting of this form of play. In this scenario, I do not close her in her room for a formal time frame- I am just not playing with her and I inform her of that. This happens when I’m getting ready in the morning. She’ll often be in her room playing, or she’ll play with something nearby. This form of play happens if I’m busy with something or have to step away for a bit. It’s never for a huge amount of time, but it happens a decent amount throughout the day, and Caroline is very receptive to it. She knows she can get to me and that I’m close by. Honestly, I’ve come to really appreciate this as well. This is a much more natural independent play, and is more representative of what will happen with the new baby. I’m going to get pulled away at unexpected moments, and Caroline will need to be able to adapt and play without me.
Table time- Table time is something we started doing when Caroline turned 2. Again this is an activity that we do when we stay home, but is also something that I can have Caroline do while I”m cooking dinner, doing the dishes, etc. Table time is literally what it sounds like- Caroline sits at the table all by herself working on an activity. The activity is either a learning game on the iPad, or a craft of some sort.
My goals with Independent Play:
Just to keep myself motivated and moving forward towards our goals, I figured I’d get a few written out. I have 7 months to make a couple of adjustments that I think will be beneficial to everyone.
1. We need to stay home more. I’ve always had a goal of staying home 1 weekday. This rarely happens. If it’s not school, gymnastics, or a playdate, it’s an appointment or running errands. We’ve gotten so busy, and I really think we need to slow down. When the baby arrives it’s going to force us to slow down a bit, and I do not want Caroline resenting the baby for causing that. If we slow down ahead of time, Caroline will be used to it. I’m going to set aside 1 day of the week and just commit to staying home.
2. The one day a week that we stay home, I’d like to practice formal independent play with Caroline. We’ve gotten away from this, and I want to show Caroline that she can love it again. After all, it has so many benefits! We are starting this again…today!!
3. I’d love for table time to happen at a consistent time each day. I think Caroline really benefits from these activities. With Caroline’s nap getting shorter as she gets older, I can see placing this right after her nap, or while I’m prepping dinner (although she often likes to help cook). The afternoon would be a great time to have her do this and it will free me up to get a few things done.
Other Posts of Interest
My Tot Clock (how we use this for independent play as well as sleep)
Independent Playtime (Progression of, and benefits)
Reviving Independent Playtime (1.5 years old)
8 Independent Table Activities for 2 Year Olds
Favorite iPad Apps for 2 Year Olds
Topic of today’s BFBN Day: Independent Playtime
Full list of posts:
Natasha- Benefits of Independent Playtime
Valerie- How To Child-Proof Your Space for Independent Playtime
Cole- Top Ten Toys for Independent Playtime
Emily- Independent Playtime: A Simple How To
Kimberly- Transitions: Turning the Morning Nap Into Independent Playtime
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