In the mommy group that I went to this last Spring, once a month the speaker would ask some of the mom's "What in this stage of motherhood could they not live without." Some said their mom or best friend, a good book... the most popular answer by far was iPhone. I have been thinking about this question a lot in light of being a mommy of 3. My new answer of what I could not live without at this stage is... Alone Play Time (APT). Not for me, for my kids : ) Almost everyday my kids do alone play time.
Who is it for? All of my kids
What is it? Just what it sounds like time for each kiddo to play all by them-self.
Where? H in his room, Bug in her crib and Baby Bro in his crib.
When? We do alone play time every day, usually mid morning.
Why? For oh, so many reasons... but my top 3 are:
1. I need that time (now more than ever). It is when I get ready, make lunches if we are headed out, pack up the car, make calls, do my quiet time, get setup for craft projects... whatever it is pressing for that day that is easier done alone.
2. It is good for kids to learn to play all by themselves. Too many kids in our society are constantly looking to others to entertain them.
3. I think that it helps improve their ability to concentrate. I know at my house, if the kids are in the play room there are tons of toys to choose from, that they often move from one activity to the next without really focusing on one toy. For APT, they only get 2-3 toys and 2-3 books. This gives them time to focus on these toys and books without getting distracted.
How does it work? It is different for kids of different ages. But I would say start em' young.
With H we started APT when he was only a few months old. It started out as time with his mobile in his crib. Then when he could hold onto toys, I would give him a few toys to reach for, hold or bat at. For H as an infant he would do APT for up to 20 minutes. As they get a little older you can add a few minutes to that. I am starting this with Baby Bro now; just this morning he had 10 minutes of mobile time.
For Bug, I made the HUGE mistake of not starting APT until she was 14 months old. She hated it at first and would
With H now, he gets full reign of his room. I have special toys in his room that are just for APT or he can pick out something else if he would like. H also gets a CD (of his choice) in his room to listen to as he plays. He often ends up playing with something different that he started with, but that is really fine with me.
APT has been crucial for me in this transition. I am hoping that when I am not sleep-deprived that I can get up before the kids to get ready and get a start on my day. Once that is happening I want to stagger their APT so I make sure I am getting 1 on 1 time with each kiddo!
If you only have a baby, start now, you won't regret it! If your little one is a toddler just know that it might come with some resistance, but give it a try. Save their favorite toys for APT, start out with just 5 or 10 minutes, you can talk it up too, build it up in their mind about how this is a special time. If you have a preschooler be sure to let them help pick the music and activity. One other tip that I think helps is that I try to be on the floor playing with my kids in the time leading up to APT. I want them to have time with me. I think it helps them to know they are not going to APT because mommy doesn't want them around.
So, that is one little tip that has worked wonders for me that I am so thankful someone passed my way... hopefully, it will encourage one of you out there : )