Welcome to the first post in our Mummyhood Made Easy Series. The series is all about making the lives of parents and nannies that little bit easier!
Our first post is something that strikes close to home at the moment- my daughter Amelia is nearly 18 months old and is becoming a busy and inquisitive wee person.
Like many mums, I work from home and life is a juggle of parenting, childcare, work, family and housekeeping. There are times in the day when I just need Amelia to occupy herself so I can get stuff done!
Also, I believe in encouraging independent play. Great things come when kids are given time and space to use their imagination. They develop creativity and concentration. They feel a strong sense of achievement when they discover something all on their own, without mums guidance or help. They become better at being strong, independent little people.
Which is why I've researched and come up with some great ideas on how to encourage independent play. Here are my favourites below:
1. Structure your day
Set a regular time each day for independent play. It's great to do this when your wee one is most relaxed- you could try after breakfast or the afternoon snack, both times when your child should be well rested and fed!
You might start with a shorter amount of time and build it up as the days go past. Give your independent time a name- 'Afternoon Play Time' or 'Quiet Time,' and make sure you have some good activities to keep your wee one occupied.
BONUS TIP: In this post from Dirt and Boogers, Amanda (A Play Therapy Specialist) recommends using a timer to define your play time. This might not work for everyone but I found it an interesting read.
2. Removing yourself from play and quiet encouragement
Kristina at Toddler Approved has some really great tips on how to quietly ease yourself away from doing an activity with your wee one, to leave them exploring and discovering on their own. She also talks about how to give positive feedback on idependent play- but not interrupting your wee one!
"Avoid constantly praising or interrupting play! Often kids are playing nicely by themselves and we ruin it by jumping in. I love the reminder that play is the work of children. We don't like being interrupted when we work... and neither do they! If there is a natural opportunity to praise or comment, go for it. If not, wait till the creative playtime is over and don't interrupt the magic." Kristina at Toddler Approved
3. DIY Busy Box
I loved this idea from the amazing site Learn With Play At Home. Create a DIY Busy Box that is pulled out at special times, and is full of amazing Independent Play activities.
On her blog Debs shares what she puts in her DIY Busy Box to keep the wee ones entertained. She has a few tips on the types of things to put in, including:
1. Only put in things they can use independently without your assistance
2. Make it age appropriate. ie. No small fiddly bits for littlies etc
3. Less mess, less fuss. Leave out things that will make a mess your child can't clean.
4. Keeping materials etc in individual tubs/bags/boxes inside the Box will help keep it clean & easy
5. Include materials that are open-ended. ie.things that have more than one use
6. If you focus primarily on creativity you may find they are able to use it for longer
4. DIY Baby Box
For the younger ones out there is the DIY Baby Activity Box from Danya Banya is a great idea. It will take some creativity to make, but I can see that it would keep Amelia occupied! She loves ribbons, lids and jars.
5. DIY Quiet Box- For Older Children
Similar to the DIY Busy Box, the Quiet Box is pulled out on occasion. It's perfect for slightly older children (around 4 years), and Debs walks you through what hers contains on her blog here.
6. Outdoor independent play ideas
These ones are my personal fave and I'm going to try some of them this afternoon! The sun is out, Amelia can play in the courtyard and the hose is handy to tidy up afterwards if we need to...
- I liked this post from Danya Banya describing outdoor play using mirrors, paintbrushes, fingers and... drumroll please... shaving cream! Could get messy and it's not for the wee ones who are likely to put most of it in their mouth!
- Big, fat outdoor chalk sticks and free reign to draw on... something- the driveway? Would work a treat.
- Sandpit and water play station- the wee ones love water and sand! I have used plastic bins with lids so I can simply put the top on unless we're using them. Amelia can be occupied with these for at least 1/2 an hour at a time, and it's great that they are portable, I can move them for the sun
Have you tried any of these ideas? Or do you have any other independent play ideas that we can add? Please share!
Rachel @ KiwiOz
Our little home dedicated to sprinkling some 'Down Under' Sunshine in the lives of London families and nannies ☺
READ MORE ABOUT...