Thursday, May 23, 2013

reclaiming independent playtime

Soon after Mason turned a year old, I began putting him in the crib for a few minutes after breakfast each day for independent play, or IP as I call it. I gradually increased the number of minutes each week, and soon enough he could play and look at his books for 25-30 minutes.

And then, as Mason turned 18 months, he decided he hated IP. Suddenly, he was over it. And I panicked at the thought of losing those precious minutes with him safely contained and out of the way while I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, especially since he had dropped his morning nap.

Weeks of crying and screaming ensued each time I attempted IP. Then, I finally found something that helped: the alarm clock.

I started small. I set the alarm clock in Mason's room for two minutes. I made a big deal of telling Mason that I would return when the alarm sounded and not before then. The first day, he screamed the entire two minutes, but when I came back, I made sure he understood I was responding to the alarm going off and not to his crying. The second day, he whimpered the first minute and then played. The third day, I increased the time to three minutes, and he played contentedly until the alarm sounded. We're now up to 12 minutes. I still make a big deal of setting the alarm when I put him in the crib. I rush in as soon as the alarm sounds and congratulate him for making it. Often, he's standing up and pointing at the alarm while it beeps, with a huge smile on his face--victory for both of us!

Do you incorporate regular crib time or room time into your child's routine? How do you make it useful for all of you?


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