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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Structured playtime? What?

I always thought we were pretty good about keeping Eli's day structured. We have a good routine with milk, meals, snacks, nap time, and bedtime. And most of our errands we'd run around the same time of the day too. But upon getting the book Toddlerwise from the library last week, I realized the area that definitely needs some work.... PLAYTIME! For the most part all of our free time was just open play. I try to do story time for a few minutes in the morning (training him to sit on the couch for 20 minutes), but otherwise there really was no structure to it. And honestly, it was quite tiring on me. Eli wasn't learning how to play by himself, although I was really wanting him to. Every time I'd do something different he'd drop everything to come see what I was doing. But here's what I learned just from one chapter of Toddlerwise about structuring your child's day. There are different types of play!
  1. Roomtime--child learns to play quietly by himself for a period of time. Play on blanket (or in room) until timer goes off. (~30 minutes).
  2. Free playtime--still supervised play, don't allow child to move from toy to toy every 5 minutes but instead learn to sustain his interest. child can play with toys of his choice though.
  3. Structured playtime--mommy picks the activity (puzzles, coloring, painting, etc). This teaches the child that he doesn't always get to choose
  4. Structured playtime with siblings--same as above except all children are together doing same activity
  5. Playtime with mommy--each child receives individual playtime with mommy (even just 10-20 minutes is good)
  6. Playtime with friends--scheduled time during week to socialize--story hour, library, playgroup
  7. Video Time--not when children are becoming restless and whiny, but during an actual scheduled time (usually during a time of day that's most stressful for mom like while she's cooking dinner)
Last week we made the big switch to just one nap a day, and that's going awesome-ly(?). Relieves a lot of stress that I didn't even realize was there. a) Eli can sleep as late as he wants in the morning without me thinking he needs to get up just so he can nap later. b) He always falls asleep in the afternoon (around 12:45 or 1:00ish), so there's no wondering if he'll nap or if he won't. c) He's been consistently sleeping 2 hours (or one day was even 2 hrs 45 minutes!) so it gives me a larger chunk of time to actually get things done (but I have to use my time wisely and productively cuz it's the only I break I get until bedtime).

And now that I read about structuring play times too, we've been trying to incorporate a lot of that. With Baby Girl due in 5 weeks, it would be really, really, really be GREAT if Eli could be trained to play on his own on a blanket for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. Right now we're only up to 15 minutes but it's only been 3 days. He automatically got the idea that he had to stay on the blanket, but sadly he thought it was punishment of some sort and just stood at the edge of the blanket crying. Since then we're getting it figured out that I too need to find something to busy myself with instead of just sitting on the couch ensuring that Eli plays with something. I make sure he stays on the blanket and that he's not doing anything wrong with the toys, but otherwise I ignore him let him be, and it's going much better. And as soon as the timer dings, Eli knows he's "free" again and we move on with our day.

I tried doing structured playtime with crayons and puzzles, but that's taking more training than I thought it would to hold his attention to it, so for now I'm just going to focus on the blanket time until we're ready to move on from there. Don't want to go throwing too much at him!

So that's what else is going on at our house! Do you have any tips for getting toys and activities to hold your child's attention longer?

1 comment:

Susan said...

I have a just turned 2 year old. Emma is pretty good at playing by herself. She has several groups of things, like her kitchen set, her blocks, her babies and her books. She will usually play with one set of them occasionally bringing a few together.She also likes it watch a show and play with the things she has. For example she loves to watch Max and Ruby, she'll sit in her chair holding her plush Max and Ruby and watch them.

Honestly chance are no matter what you have set up, as soon as that little one comes home, all will be forgotten temporarily. It will still be there, just not the way you thougt.

Can't wait to meet the new girlie, that's what we called our girls.

Susan