Independent Play Time


I wasn't sure how I felt about this concept. If you don't know, it is basically structured independent play time that is built into your daily routine. You leave your child to play with his toys by himself. I have a sweet friend that does this with her child twice a day and he plays happily during that time for around 30 minutes each time. It allows her to get things done.

Independent play can build skills like being able to focus for longer periods of time, build curiosity, and mostly expand their own learning, among other things. However, I wasn't sure if I bought this concept. In some ways, I felt like a bad mother to just leave her baby in his room by himself for however long, while I was off doing "my things". Micaiah hasn't been awake THAT long for me to feel like this was worthwhile and I have thoroughy enjoyed being with my sweet boy when he is awake!

This week has been a trying week for us, and I haven't been able to accomplish much around the house. Due to ear infections, he has been very clingy and every time I tried to put him down, he would cry. I understand why, but it kind of gave me a wake up call... Do I want to be carrying him around in 6 more months, unable to put him down, always wanting to be held? Do I love holding my little boy? Yes! We snuggle and snuggle and play and play and love being together! But, I also know that eventually he will be awake for longer than 2 hours, and what then? Will I be the only entertainer he wants?

I decided to put my doubts aside and give it a try this afternoon, just for kicks, and because I really desperately needed to clean my kitchen. I put him in his crib, sitting up with the boppy behind him and dumped out a bucket of toys in front of him. I put on his Aunt Hannah's CD turned up pretty loud, opened the window, and made sure all the lights were on, and I left the room. I set a timer for 10 minutes. I have the luxury of being able to watch Cai on our TV, so I turned on the TV and checked on him from the living room several different times.

At first, he just looked around. Then, he started playing. He picked things up, looked at them, shook them. At other times when I would check on him, I was amazed. There was something just out of reach and he focused on it, and found a way to get it to himself. The kitchen timer went off and since he was having such a good time, I set it to 5 more minutes. 5 minutes went by. I set it for 5 more, then, I got him, because he had stopped playing for the most part and was just laying back on his pillows. With it being the first time, I wanted to let him know I would come back for him each time, of course! He was so happy to see me when I came into the room, that he smiled the biggest smile I had seen in the last few weeks!

I was more motivated, too. I was able to get what I wanted to get done accomplished and since I knew I had X amount of time, I didn't idle one bit.

I think I might be implementing this one time a day for right now, and when he is awake for longer in the mornings, then I will try it in the morning, too. I think it showed me that, even babies need time to themselves and can benefit from it.

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