Here’s a secret, Mama. It’s ok letting them play on their own sometimes. You don’t have to feel guilty sitting next to them and reading a book or doing a handicraft or drinking a hot cup of tea while they play—you’re actually modeling ways to engage the world (reading, crafting, reflecting) as they grow up. And learning to play independently is a skill they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
Sometimes it’s hard for little ones to know what to play or how to play…often I’ll sit on the floor by the play kitchen and ask what they’re cooking. Then I’ll open a book and sit close to them while they play on their own. Or I’ll sit by the bin of Magnatiles and begin to build a tower, or a fence for some farm animals. When they join me, I’ll slowly ease my way out and allow them to play independently. Let them see you feeding your soul (it’s challenging for them to understand that you’re doing meaningful work if you’re on your phone—even if you actually are reading a book, they can’t “see” you doing it), and they’ll learn it’s ok to feed their souls when they’re adults. And as they learn to play independently with your guidance, you’ll gain a bit more time for yourself as well.
How do you encourage independent play in your home?