On Independent Play

Happy Saturday morning folks! I love Saturday mornings, even though this one is a little bit different from our regular Saturday mornings. I like to try to take Nolan to the Early Years Center during the morning, but the exhaust on our car needs to be fixed so Matt doesn’t want me to drive {with Nolan} until he can fix it. Apparently, it’s so loud it’s illegal! Also, we usually have pancakes on Saturday morning, made by Matt, but this morning I decided to sneak out of our bedroom and leave him sleeping. Nolan had a rough night last night, and Matt was up dealing with it because I was out cold and he didn’t wake me. Nor did the monitor, because Matt had turned it way down so I didn’t hear a thing.

So my gift to him this morning was to let him sleep in. Nice huh? And since I can’t make pancakes worth crap, Nolan and I had cream cheese toast. I was going to make eggs, but the attention my kitchen needed sort of killed that drive. I guess last night I got into one of my rare “lazy modes”. Usually, I clean the kitchen every night directly after dinner. I hate waking up to a messy kitchen, it usually throws my whole day off. Usually. Not today though, I sort of expected it and had only myself to blame {since Matt had cooked dinner}. So I cleaned up while Nolan ate.

Then I plunked Nolan down in the livingroom so I could recharge and wake up in the kitchen, and here I sit having my morning tea and stealing a moment or two to blog. I don’t feel guilty for letting him entertain himself for a little bit during the mornings, because I believe a child absolutely has to know how to entertain themselves. He’s really good about it too. Of course, I always get nervous when I hear him giggling like a mad-man since usually that means he is spinning around, whilst standing on the couch. But today, he was just attacking his Cat in the Hat toy.

And it was hilarious to watch, especially the beginning where he tackled the Cat in the Hat. All the while, Nolan had no idea I was watching him.

I really do believe that independent play is important. I do believe that interacting with your child is also equally as important, but together they go hand in hand. You can’t always be there to entertain your child. I know I have a growing list of chores to do this morning – laundry, cleaning, etc – and it’s very difficult to finish my housework when Nolan is carrying on for attention.

From day one, we’ve made sure that Nolan has his own independent play time. It’s not scheduled, and he doesn’t have to do any one activity or another. I’m a firm believer in unstructured playtime. I can’t imagine structuring every single aspect of Nolan’s day. Yes, I believe that routines are good {in fact, we have one!}, but I also believe that playing however you want to play is more fun. I watch him while he plays by himself, and I gotta tell you, he’s shaping into a fantastic, independent child. And he’s smart too, although there was no question about that…after all, he does have me for a mother 😉 But in all reality, it’s great for us both. I can get a little bit of “me time” during the day while he plays. I can get stuff that I want to get done, like housework. It’s awesome! I think we are so successful with independent playtime because we have a hell of a lot of interactive playtime too. So Nolan knows that when he’s playing by himself, Mommy is cleaning or taking a moment or two, and he’s incredibly good about it. When he gets bored with entertaining himself, I take a break and we go play with Mega Blocks together.

This morning, I watched Nolan open the books we had left out on the table after last night’s story-time. He opened one of them and started looking at the pictures, pointing to things and saying what they were. Most of the time, he was using his “baby language” – but he did point out “car”, “ball”, “dog” and “cat”.

It honestly filled me with such pride to watch him “reading” on his own. Nolan loves to “read” to us, he’ll bring books over and flip through the pages while chattering away. He copies my reading style, making different voices and then he’ll point out things in the book.

Nolan has always loved books, and I make it a point to read to him every single time he brings a book over to me. He does it a lot, and his favourite book right now is When Stella Was Very, Very Small by Marie-Louise Gay. He loves Stella, and always points her out. He can almost say her name, too. I definitely need to pick up more books out of the series, because I love them too! Unfortunately, I’ve had absolutely no luck trying to find other books in the series in our local bookstores. Sigh.

So, yes, where I was? We make it a point to read to Nolan every single time he wants to read. Nolan would rather read than watch TV, or play with Mega Blocks. I want to encourage healthy reading habits early on, so that’s why I’m constantly

Honestly? I love how much Nolan loves to read. I love our story-time cuddles. I love how he points out things in the book and tells me, correctly, what they are.

And I love that he can entertain himself if I’m busy.

Post Summary: my kid is quite amazing, and independent play is essential for a mama’s sanity.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “On Independent Play

  1. I agree 100%! Independent play is absolutely important also because toddlers have the chance to more creative and use the things taught to him/ her by the parent when they play together. And reading is oh so special nothing like a toddler who loves to read!

  2. Reading and independent playtime are definitely important! My mom read to us every night for years — even after we learned to read on our own. It taught us to read and to love reading, but it also gave us time together that I’ll always cherish.

    I can also remember my sister and I playing together every day. My mom played with us when we were little little, but as we got older we spent more and more time playing together. We were really creative, and I feel like that time together brought us closer, gave us independence, gave Mom a break, and gave us that creativity that we still have today.

    I have to say that those two things are my favorite things about my childhood. I loved being with my mom, yes, but my independent playtime was MY time.

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