Thursday, 12 March 2015

On the Lost Art of Independent Play...


It's a happy little routine we've fallen in to. It's evolved and changed beyond recognition since the early routines of my firstborn, but right now, I'm perfectly contented with our little schedule. Typically, I know it will all be thrown to the wind with a new arrival in June, so right now, I'm savouring every moment of the "calm before the storm"...

The girls were always post-lunch nappers, and from their very earliest days, getting them into a good napping routine was high on my priority list. It meant happy babies. It meant sane Mama. It meant a lot of sacrifices too. I didn't, and still don't, go out for lunch much, and between 12 and 3 is pretty much a write-off for any social activity, unless people want to come to me.

But boy has it been worth it. Our littlest lady heads up to bed around 1pm, and doesn't reappear, often, until around 3.30pm, and my big girl... well, with the help of a gro-clock, she has been learning the art of keeping herself entertained for an hour every day in her bedroom.

I think kids amusing themselves is becoming a bit of a lost art. They are growing up in a world surrounded by high energy, visuals and over-stimulation. Ipads, mobile phones, TV screens and laptops are part of their everyday. I didn't know what a single one of those things was until I was at least ten (excepting the TV!) Children get "bored" way quicker I think, and need constant play dates, activity and entertainment... don't get me wrong. Our girls are well acquainted with all the above, and I think they have their place, but I sometimes wonder if our children are growing up in a world that is over-screen-saturated.

Which is why we've worked hard to teach our girls to play alone. It sounds anti-social, and it sounds dated, but I remain utterly convinced by it. It gives them much needed daily quiet and respite, it teaches them to appreciate silence, it encourages their independence and their imaginations.
And its not an entirely selfless act, I'll admit... an hour of total space every lunchtime is a lifeline for a Mama of preschoolers. I genuinely mean it when I say I don't know how people do the constancy and intensity of it otherwise... its often the first (and only!) full cup of tea I'll drink in a day. A chance to think, space to breath, and an opportunity to have uninterrupted peace too.


And when my big girl comes down after an hour, we have another hour while baby sister sleeps on for Mama and Ava time. After an hour of space, I'm energised, enthusiastic and much more able to spend the hour doing something productive with her. Its our together time. I try to make sure I'm not distracted or doing other jobs around the house (that's what my mornings are for!) That one hour, I am hers - to draw with her, play her games, prepare activities, chat, bake... every day a little bit different. But I'm savouring it all up because I know this golden hour will disappear in September when she heads off to school.

And then, I'm hoping, praying that the cycle will continue as baby sleeps (!!), and Heidi learns the lost art of independent play, followed by Mama time, too...


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5 comments:

  1. Totally agree, Independence play is so important, it's sad how many children these days just don't know how to play or entertain themselves even for 10 minutes. x

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  2. I totally agree Claire. Oliver has always been able to entertain himself. He will play for ages with puzzles, cars, trains etc. He will happily play in his room when he wakes up in the morning. Ive always thought it strange that so many people say to me in suprise "oh isnt he good at playing by himself". Its just normal to me.
    Just like you I never had all the electronic stuff as a child. Oliver of course watches tv and knows how to work my phone and kindle but its in moderation. Ive loved my time just chilling out and being with oliver. Not rushing around to every soft play to keep him "entertained". I honestly believe thats why oliver has been able to write his name since he was 2 and now at 3, he can sit and read. He will read us the biff, chip and kipper books happily.
    You get out what you put in. Your girls are lucky to have such a fab mummy. X

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  3. The danger of schooling starting too young !!

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  4. That sounds like a wonderful routine! My two girls are just getting to the stage where they will go off and play together while I'm busy about the house. We're still at the point where it usually ends in some sort of mayhem and destruction but I love hearing the stories they create. I think there is a degree to which the ability and willingness to play by yourself is a part of personality, my Elma has always been better at entertaining herself than Kitty but Kit is a huge people person, she will always choose company, and that comes out in how she wants to play. I suspect as long as there's imagination coming in to play, whether there's a sister in the mix too will hardly matter!

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  5. Love this. I agree that in this day - life can get so hectic by the over stimulation from Tv, electronics etc. Its not a nice thing if left out of control. I grew up with tv, and i turned out ok so when monitored I think its lovely relaxed time for the family. but when too much you definitely see the negatives. we love our littles to play independently, sometimes it doesnt work as our house is still hectic from the move but we'll get there. theres nothing more magical when you sneak in on them playing happily together or solo. and i agree - that cuppa in peace is amazing! Thank you for linking up with me x

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