Being a parent can be rough.
Not only does little A need me to feed him, change him, and wipe his nose (among many, many more things), but he also wants me to entertain him many hours of the day.
Whether I’m strumming a tune on my guitar to make him smile, or tossing him in the air as he squeals, it is such a joy to be able to make my son happy.
But, I do have things that need to be done.
I have a homework assignment due in less than 24 hours, the dishes are calling my name, laundry has been piling for 2 days, and dinner isn’t going to cook itself. When little man was a newborn, ‘nap time’ (15+ hours every day!) gave me plenty of time to get everything done. But, now that he’s creeping up on a year old, he just doesn’t sleep like he used to.
It is important to teach our children that they can play alone, and have fun! It widens their creativity, taps into their imagination, and teaches them to be more independent. Here are my tips on encouraging independent play.
Turn off the TV
The first step to encouraging your kiddo to be more independent is to teach them that they don’t have to be entertained 24/7. Little A absolutely LOVES music, so I’ll usually grab the iPad and flip on some tunes for him as he plays. He often goes from play to dance!
Independent play doesn’t have to mean alone time. There are many times when little A plays on the floor with his toys while I sit on the couch and work on my blog. From there, I can keep an eye on him, get some things done, and talk to and encourage him. I have found that it’s sort of counterproductive to try to sneak away when he’s distracted. Once he realizes I’m gone, he panics. Instead, I will talk to him. I’ll say things like “I’m going to go do a load of laundry now.” If he gets fussy while I’m away, I will typically sing or hum from the next room so he knows I’m not far.
Teach them that playing is a GOOD thing! When little A plays with his music box toy, I will clap my hands and sing and dance along which he thinks is an absolute blast.
Keep the Toybox Nearby
I’ll usually lay out a few of little A’s favorite toys within easy grasp for him to play with. But recently, one of his favorite pastimes has become dumping his toys everywhere! He loves emptying out his box, and discovering everything that’s inside- this can really keep him entertained!
Let Them Play
Honestly, the biggest tip I can give you is to just let them play. They will, it’s how they learn about the world around them. It seems to me that little A is the most content for the longest amount of time during independent play when I just allow him to play. I will usually put him in a safe place, and let him move about on the floor, explore and discover new things. Nothing seems to ruin his play more than when I interrupt it-then all he can think about is mom!
Don’t Force It
It really boils down to letting baby play when baby wants. Don’t force it. There are some times when I really want to get something done, so I’ll try to sneak away or force it. This never goes over well, and just makes him even clingier.
Independence is a journey, not a lesson. Your baby is not going to learn complete independence overnight. But, by encouraging them to play and learn on their own, they are one step closer to learning it.
Until next time,
Savannah is a full-time mom of one, and can often be found outside on one of her various adventures. She enjoys carving her own path through natural and holistic living, as well as discovering ways to use food as medicine.