Revisiting this IP & Blanket Time Idea


Cai is almost 21 months right now. I've tried a lot of activites with him in his 21 months, so I thought I would give a  little update on Independent Playing and Blanket Time.

I posted here previously about introducing this idea of structured Independent Play and then here about doing Blanket Time.

First off, I haven't done Blanket Time in months. I decided that while it was a great concept, it just wasn't our thing. Sure, it was nice to try when he was just learning to toddle around and how in the world can I get stuff done with a toddler.... Blanket Time seemed like the answer. I think it's just a lot easier now that he is older & at the time going to one nap really threw me for a loop, so I had to take time to adjust and find those pockets of time to accomplish things. I still like the idea of learning to sit still, but I don't think I have to make him sit on a blanket to learn those things.

Next up, is this idea of Structured Independent Playing.

I would say that I'm a mediocre-ly structured mom. I love people with their schedules that they keep to a tee. We DO have a schedule, but we also are really laid back in our house, so trying to keep up with having a set aside time daily to make Cai play by himself alone with some toys just didn't really happen.

But, Independent Play DOES happen and honestly, I think Cai is actually pretty good at it. I think that there are several reasons why Cai is good at doing this.

1) He is just older. He likes looking through his toys. He can make them "do things" more and more.
2) I have made his room inviting for play. I keep almost all of Micaiah's toys in his room. We have one basket of books and a few toys out in the living room, but mainly the majority of Cai's toys are in his room. If he wants to play with his toys, then he has to go into his room. Most of the time, Cai will say "Room! Room!" and I open his gate, turn on his music, leave the door open, and he will play and play.
3) I cycle out baskets of toys. Instead of clothes and baby items being stored in Cai's closet, I have some hanging clothes on one half (everything else in a dresser), his changing table, and across the top shelf are toys that have been divided into about six baskets. Keeping them up and out of the way and separate from his other toys keep him interested and they seem "special". I usually get a couple new baskets down at a time to change things up.

In the past, every time I tried IP, I would get out some toys, turn on some music and shut the door and leave.

This failed, because Cai had some extreme separation anxiety and he would just knock at the door and scream and cry. Honestly, he never got over this. Obviously, I started feeling like a bad mom for "locking" him in his room, so we have tried the open door approach and it works very well for us. I have a gate on his room door that is always there. It keeps Abe out (although sometimes Abe does IP, too) and he has to ask to get in and out of his room. He plays in his room and I try not to walk past his room a lot while he is in his room playing by himself. The less he sees me, the longer he generally plays alone. If he wants to come out, I tell him that I would like him to play a little longer, even sit down with him and play for a bit together, then tell him I need to go fold laundry or do some chores, and I'd like it if he would please play or read his books. He "gets it" most days, but then there are other days where they are just NOT IP days. He does not want to play along, he does not want to be in his room, so I don't push IP on him. I definitely do not feel like IP should be a struggle.

As far as how long Cai will play, today he played for close to an hour just in his room with his toys and books. I was able to straighten the entire house and fold laundry and put it away. When he got tired of IP, then I had him help me put away his clothes. Today, I was walking by his room quite a bit and even went in his room to have him help me put away his laundry. He also asked me to come in and help him get some toys from under the dresser. But, other days, he may only play for around 20 or 30 minutes. Some days he wants to play in his room a few times, others just once. As far as this aspect of IP, we go with the flow.

I realize this approach to IP is not for everyone, but this is how IP works for us and what I have comes to terms with. Independently playing fosters so much in a child, but so does interactive play and reading and so many other activites, so I don't think that IP should be exalted to some absolute that HAS to be set in stone daily.

Anyways, I just thought I would give a little update on where we are at with these concepts! Hope you enjoyed it! :)

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