A couple of months ago, my four-year old stopped needing a nap. Great. Nap time was the only time during the day I had to myself to write and veg out a little (okay, and eat chocolate).
Soon after, I was given a double-whammy: my two year-old also felt he could live off bedtime alone.
I began scouring pages of Pinterest for activities they could do alone. I went through my hoarder-style closet full of toys I bought for a rainy day but had never given them.
As a former teacher, I thought it’d be best to create a calendar arranged by theme of what they could do in what I dubbed “Alone Time” while I continued on with my old routine.
I planned to have the kids work on math-related activities one day, art another, etc. I created boxes with fun math things, brand new art ideas…
The activities and toys were so foreign, the kids had no idea what to do with them. I was called in again and again to help them. My son plain wasn’t interested in the toys he’d never seen before. I didn’t get it: on Pinterest, these Alone Time bins worked like magic.
As I was rearranging toys in my bedroom, my daughter came in and began to play with something we had done together a bunch of times and then I had put away. Well, what do you know: now she was ready for it to be played with solo.
And that’s when I realized something: we could still do the fun activities I had planned, but we’d need to do them together first. They needed to explore them when I could answer questions and show them how fun they could be.
I needed to flip the toys in my house. The toys that were in the living room that we played with together a million times could be used in their bedrooms for Alone Time. The new toys would then go in the living room where the kids and I could play with them together.
The kids didn’t need to do art alone. Instead, we can do art together—this also allowed for messy supplies and scissors. The cool princess dice and graph paper with dry erase markers would also be fun to do together. Once she gets it, then it can be an option for alone time. And I didn't need to be all teacher-y and have a planned agenda. It would require too much work on my part and not really matter to the kids that much.
I’m excited to try my new plan. I’ll report back on how it went.