I've been working hard the last couple of months to find ways to encourage their independent play and I thought I'd share them with you! It's a daily struggle in our house and I'm certainly not an expert but things are slowly getting easier.
2. Both of my kids thrive when I give them "jobs" to do. Toddlers love to imitate and I've taken the opportunity to teach them how to help me. If I need to do the dishes, I'll give them each a wet washcloth and let them wash the fronts of the cabinets. If I need to do laundry, they help put things away or drag their empty hampers back to the laundry room. When I vacuum, Connor runs his ball popper toy behind me. I'm able to get my cleaning done and they feel like they've gotten to help!
|Helping me clean. Obviously Grace dressed herself that day!|
4. Both of my kids tend to look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them to just "go play!" But if I set out one or two toys, they are much more likely to get engaged. I like to put away some of the toys they get for Christmas and their birthdays and rotate them out so they get new toys all year round. I can pack up the old ones to bring out again later in the year or donate/sell them. It's more fun to play with "new" toys than with old familiar ones.
5. I've learned through the years that Grace loves more structured activities. Connor will play with toys for hours, but Grace gets bored with them pretty fast. For those toddlers who need more structured playtime check out some of my favorite toddler activities. Most require just a few minutes of set up and then she is able play independently while I write a post or pay bills.
6. This is a hard one for me, but I've learned that to encourage independence, I need to let my kids play. If they get a little dirty or a little messy, that's okay unless they are going to hurt themselves or damage something. They don't need to play with toys exactly how they are supposed to be played with and they don't always need to follow the instructions. If they're having fun, let them be. I often have to stop myself from correcting them. When I'm able to get 30 minutes of work done, the little mess is totally worth it (I do ask them to help clean up when they are done). I always have to remind myself that they are learning and I should encourage them to be creative and have fun.
|I laid out a sheet and let them make a huge mess while I got dishes and lots of laundry done.|
Totally worth the mess and they had so much fun!
How do you encourage independent play in your house?