Independent Play is such an important tool to teach our little ones! It can build self confidence, problem solving skills, and creativity. It also gives your child a chance to experience boredom and learn how to entertain themselves (such an important tool to have in their toolbox), and gives both the child and the parents time without one another (also very healthy to incorporate).
In my post “Independent Play Time“, I discuss our progression from birth to about 16 months old, I discuss the benefits, and how we have put this into practice. I will admit that, as a SAHM, I don’t always keep up with independent play as I’d like to. I’m home, so sometimes I feel guilty for not being by my daughters side for playtime. Plus, things just happen and we get busy and this takes a back burner at times. It is so important, however, so I am now making a renewed effort to reinstate independent play. We are calling it “Room Time”.
Caroline is just over 18 months old. We hit the 18 month sleep regression and found what I think has been our most clingy phase yet. During the days, Caroline was simply ALL. OVER. ME. And if I didn’t pick her up, she was tantruming. I was going a bit crazy and not a happy mama.
Then it hit me. I hadn’t been doing much independent play. We had just gotten done potty training, so we had pretty much eliminated it for about a week. And before that, it really had just fallen off of my radar for some reason for about a month or so. I immediately knew that it would help her get through this clingy phase. She needs the time alone to see how to entertain herself, to build the confidence to
do so, and to learn that it’s ok if Mama isn’t right there.
Now that she’s older and can understand more, we changed it up a bit. I gave it a new name: “Room Time”. She gets what that means- time in her room! I also learned from our potty training experience. I had gotten her all excited about potty training, by getting her excited to wear big girl underwear. “Only big girls get to wear underwear! You get to wear underwear like Mama!”. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I started telling her “You get to have room time like a big girl! Only big girls get to be trusted in their rooms alone!”. Genius.
I set up a second camera in her room We have one overlooking the crib for nights and naps. The second one now shows the play area of her room. I have the monitor on so I can watch to make sure she’s safe. I can also be anywhere in the house and hear her.
She has access to everything in her room, as well as the hallway. The doors to all other rooms are closed. I give her some ideas of some things she can play with, tell her to have fun, and let her have at it.
We are doing this EVERY DAY. At least once, sometimes twice per day. She does about 20-25 minutes of independent play in the mornings. Sometimes I utilize this for when I need to get dinner ready or cleaned up as well (only one of the two).
Not only is she doing great with room time and enjoying herself… her crazy clingy moments have subsided tremendously! When she can see me, she still chooses to play on her own at times. I am so impressed with how well she’s doing. She is happier, and Mama is happier. It is a win win for both of us!
ROOM TIME IN ACTION:
(sorry it’s sideways halfway through… I wasn’t thinking and turned my phone direction!)