Focused Play and Independent Play -13 Months


This week I came to my breaking point (again!). Micaiah has been sleeping less, which was part to a needed tweak to his schedule and part to just needing more productive things to do while he is awake. I was so frustrated with him, because it just seemed like he was ALWAYS at my legs screaming to be held. I'm not sure when he stopped being able to entertain himself while I cooked or did some household thing, but it stopped and I was going nuts.

That's when I emailed my dear friend, Chelsey, who has 2 boys, one of whom is 8 months-ish older than Cai. She's been where I am and knows it. I explained my woes and she encouraged me in three main areas.

  • Sleep Schedule
  •  Focused Play
  • Independent Play
She showed me her schedule for what her son was doing at 12.5 - 13 months and it looks like this:

7:30 - wake (and he often woke earlier)
10/10:15 - nap - and he would sleep until 11:15 or 11:30; I always woke him up at 11:30 and eventually I would put him down at 10:15 and get him up at 11:15
11:30 - wake
2:30 - nap
4:30 - wake
7:30 - bedtime
I tried this yesterday and Micaiah slept beautifully. This was day after day of 45 minute naps in the morning and about 1 hr 15 minutes in the afternoon, which I was beginning to think was normal. It wasn't enough for him! I was thinking it was just a developmental thing that he was needing to sleep less, but now I'm sure it wasn't that at all, I just wasn't giving him enough wake time or wearing him out enough before a nap. Now before his naps, we do this....usually with pants on. 
 The next suggestion was to do Focused play with him for around 20-ish minutes, then start with around 30 minutes of Independent play (we had only been doing 10 - 15 structured minutes, mostly crying the whole time, not very consistently). 

First of all, I had no idea what Focused play was. Basically, you play one-on-one with your child with a specific toy, maybe something that is harder for them to do by themselves, like today we played with Mr. Potato Head. Yesterday, we played with some blocks that slide onto some pegs and a book that has kind of hard to open sliding flaps. Her suggestion was to do this right before his Independent playtime

I thought the focused play sounded great, but I was pretty nervous about IP. 30 minutes seemed like a long time when all he was doing was crying, but I decided to give it a try.

I am SO glad that I did! The first day he did cry off and on more throughout, but it wasn't screaming crying. I put him in his pac-n-play in his room with toys and books, turned some music on, and set an alarm for 30 minutes. When the alarm went off, I went in and got him, praised him for playing so well, and then we went on a walk outside. 

Today, we did focused play and then IP again for 30 minutes and he only cried out once or twice, then sat back down and played with his toys. 

If you are a SAHM and you are starting to feel like your child should be attending pre-school, because you are going insane, I would ask you to examine your day and try to structure it more for them. I can't believe the change in just 2 days. Before, I was feeling like I just didn't know what to do with him. I'm definitely a more go-with-the-flow type of person, but my toddler (not baby...Waa!) needed more structure. 
And secondly, I had been doing these things on a smaller scale, but sometimes they weren't a priority and just got pushed to the side most days. Making them a priority has made the biggest difference. It's been really neat to see him focus on playing with something with me. I'm able to teach him things as I see him playing, and observe his strengths and weaknesses and help him grow as a person. It's like a mini-school lesson in some ways.

Now, my mindset has also been changing, too. First, Hart and I are trying to get up BEFORE Micaiah to read our Bibles in the morning. Today, I had a really hard time, because I barely slept last night, so Hart just read me his Bible while I lay next to him, but yesterday, I put my Ipod on my hymn playlist and read my Bible on my porch. The whole day I was different, more refreshed, more focused on what I needed to be doing as a mom and wife.

The second thing is that as a SAHM I believe it really helps to try to have eternal eyes for what you are doing at home. Our world does NOT honor our role very highly, but we are raising up the future generation and shepherding souls. We get to be the ones to teach them about God, about life, about others, not someone else. If you think about it like you are raising up future leaders, presidents, teachers, pastors, then it helps to realize that what you are doing is NOT mundane at all. You are NOT just a cook and a maid, you are more. You have the BEST role in the world and you get to be there for every single moment of their young life. You can see where their hearts are in certain issues faster than if you weren't there. Every moment is a teachable one and something to be treasured. 

Now, if you are a working mom, this is NOT to make you feel bad at all that you aren't home all day with your child. You are still doing these things and we all have different talents and places that God wants us. What I want all of us to take away from this post is to challenge yourself to be intentional with your children with what time you have with them.

I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me! 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.