Alone playtime

I recently posted about Sully’s introduction to Blanket Time in our morning routine

Once we had that settled and squared away, I began implementing Alone Playtime for him in their room

Basically, he spends a chunk of time playing alone in his room and he can’t leave (notice the gate)Thanksgivingish '13 030

This is to teach him independence and contentment and also gives me time to spend alone with Mylin or getting chores, (blogs…), or some rest in.  AGAIN, this will be a very helpful tool when we have our newest member arriving and he will be taking up so much time nursing!  I’ll be able to focus and rest calmly with him while the kids can be in a safe space, playing happily!

I was nervous to begin this practice (it takes over his time he used to spend taking morning naps, which we stopped last month) because with Mylin, it was so difficult to implement successfully!  I struggled (like most parents, probably) with consistency and knowing how much to expect of my children.  So when she was 18 months old I kept starting and stopping alone playtime for weeks and maybe even months!

However, with Sullivan, I was confident, determined, and knew my windown of opportunity was small since I may not have been able to have the energy and focus to do it if I waited until baby arrived!

This is how we implemented alone playtime:

1. Make sure room is safe for child and has some toys/books/animals to play with

2. Put on a c.d. (we use the exact same one every day) that is only used for alone playtime

3. Prep child that he is going to do a great job playing by himself and mommy will be back soon!

4. Kiss, hug, and smile as you put up gate and walk away

5. Know that child will probably cry nonstop until you return, so keep these first few times short: about 10-15 minutes

6. Come back; kiss, hug, and smile as you tell your child, “you did so great at alone playtime!” and join them in their room to help them pick up and put away everything they got out

7. Keep repeating steps 1-6 and eventually lengthen time as they begin to not cry the entire time (but know they may still cry a lot)

8.  Work up the time to whatever suits your family and schedule best (we will have alone playtime usually 40-60 minutes per morning)

I accidentely made the transition for Sully very easy from the crying-for-15-minutes to happily-playing-for-60-minutes.  One morning, I decided I would clean the upstairs bathroom while he was in playtime (Mylin still does playtime too, she is in the nursery now, where I have placed just a few toys for her, since she shares a room and toys with Sully).  Since he could see me doing this from his doorway, he didn’t cry and began moving back and forth from his doorway into his bedroom playing for a bit, and then back to check on me.  Before I knew it he completely ignored me and was happily sitting in the rocking chair with books.  I was astonished!  From that day on, he will contentedly play in his room without crying for any length of time (within reason)!

If this sounds like it would fit your family, or something that you need to fit your family – I highly recommend it!  Ask me any other questions and I can hopefully explain this to your further!

What do you have in your mornings that is necessary in order for you to have a schedule/routine, consistency, and opportunities to teach your kids character?!  I am always looking for ideas!




3 responses to “Alone playtime

  1. I’ve never heard of this before! It sounds like such a good idea 🙂 Love how you worked up to it!

  2. I am always so impressed with your diligence. I remember Emily going upstairs to play by herself in the mornings and she would end up falling asleep amidst the toys. She has always liked playing by herself–not sure if that is a 3rd child thing or just her personality.

    • Mylin always fell asleep too! Sully’s too into pulling every single possible toy and article of clothing out to be disturbed by a little sleepiness 🙂

      Rachel Draper “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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