A few hours free each day ALL FOR YOU, ALONE, is any mother’s dream. We love our kids and could not live without them. But we could all do with a good hour on our own at least once a day right?!?
I don’t know about you, but I would go mental (if I’m not already…) if I didn’t have some free time during the day away from my kids. And I’m not referring to the few seconds you have to put a closed door between you and your children so you can calm down. That is exactly why you need space. You need time to recharge so that you don’t lose your cool or fly off your rocker when things get heated.
When my second baby was born, all routine went out of the window for a few weeks while we all tried to find ourselves again. Look, it took months to do that (not sure if I have found myself yet) but it has really helped me to stay sane to have alone time each day.
I came across another mom blogger following Baby Wise to the letter. She was talking about watching Netflix each day, resting, doing her blog and I just couldn’t understand how she had a clean house never mind the fact that she could do leisure activities. She spoke of having four to five hours of alone time EVERY.DAY.!!! People, she has 3 kids and they’re home schooled! She doesn’t have that time because they are at school. No! They are at home in the house with her!
What is this?!? Well, I had to know, so I asked.
Independent Play Time was the answer.
I have not read Baby Wise. I am no expert. But what I do have is my own experience.
My daughter has not had independent play time from day one (newborns can have it too). She was probably one and a half when we started. And I knew she could play by herself.
Here’s how we did it:
- Start slowly
My daughter now has 50 minutes of independent play time every day. We started with 15 minutes. I didn’t want to freak her out and I honestly had no idea how she would respond to being shut in her room. (Yes, you close the door.) Surprise, surprise, she didn’t like it. But, I told her that when the timer went off (I played it to her beforehand) then she could come out. Not sure what I did for those 15 minutes but I hung around in case I heard a thundering crash or some other noise that indicated something awful had happened. All was fine bar a few tears and whinging. Again, the next day, we did the same. After a week, we were on 30 minutes. Within two weeks, she was in there for an hour. I bumped it up because she was coping.
- Set a timer
A timer helps them to know that you are aware of the time and not just estimating when they should come out or leaving them in there for as long as you feel like it. It also means that if they whine before the timer has gone off, you won’t go in to fetch them. I could say to my daughter (because generally I was in the room next door) that the “noise” hadn’t gone off yet. After a while, she accepted that without protestations. I was always nearby when it went off so that I could go to her immediately. She then knew that I listened to the timer as well and didn’t make up my own “rules”.
- Put on some music
It’s not jail time or time out. She needed to know that this was a time in the day where she could do exactly as she pleased and she could play with whatever to her heart’s content. I made the mistake in the beginning of making her play in silence. It wasn’t long before she was whining. So, I again, went back to my fellow mommy blogger to figure out what I was doing wrong and she told me that she always plays some music.
We have a kiddies’ CD of Bible verses that she enjoyed before she played alone and used to walk around the house listening to it on my husband’s phone. It is 50 minutes long and so now we don’t use a timer but play the CD instead. She knows which song is last. A bonus is that she hears the same Bible verses every day so she is also learning memory verses!
- Talk about the things she can do during Independent Playtime
I will sometimes prep her beforehand and suggest that she builds a house for her toy cats or reads some books or draws me a picture. It seems to help her to have ideas of what to do. Once she’s in there, she doesn’t need my ideas!
- Be firm
Sounds harsh but kids are clever, little things. If you go in once, they will weasel their way to get you in there as much as possible. I would, from time to time, speak to her through the closed door. Even if she whined to come out, I would remind her that I would come when the timer went. After a while, she got the picture. I only went in if she told me that she needed a nappy change (never a false alarm) or if she had hurt herself (because she climbed on her chair to look out the window)! I was never far.
- Make sure they are not tired or hungry
My daughter has her independent play time straight after breakfast when I know she is wide awake and not grumpy. I also know that her tummy is full and she is ready to play! I also made sure that it coincided with my baby’s first sleep of the day (by this time she has been awake for 3 hours!) and then I have alone time!
Independent play has really helped all of us for a multitude of reasons. She has learnt to entertain herself and is happy with her own company. She doesn’t need someone to play with her or occupy her all the time. I have some down time to regroup and recharge. It is no longer a time she resents. I often hear her reading to her “babas”, singing along to the CD or talking to herself. I have, on occasion, come in and she will tell me that she’s still busy reading, etc. As I type this, her door is open and she’s just woken up from her midday nap. But she has asked to listen to audio books and is sitting on her bed paging through books. Bliss!
If you haven’t done this and think your child is too old to start, I am proof that it can be done!
Check out this helpful post on Independent Play Time.Tags: alone time, break, child, children, independence, independent, independent play, play, play time, playtime, quiet time, toddler