Independent playtime is an important part of our daily routine. From just a couple weeks old I started Britt with her independent playtime on her little baby play-mat in her room. At around four months old I moved her to the pack and play and she’s been there ever since!
It SHOCKED me how long Britt did so well in her pack and play for independent playtime. Kye had to make the transition to roomtime close to a year old but even at 20 months old Britt was still happy as could be to play in her pack and play! Why switch it up, right?
Then the day arrived! Britt was in her pack and play and I was in my room on the computer (shocker) and I turned and saw her standing proudly next to me, beaming up at me with this huge, proud grin. A grin that was not, I’m sure, returned back to her haha! I took her back and put her in the pack and play and told her to stay until the timer went off then went back to my room. And within 5 minutes there she was again, laughing the whole way.
I have NO CLUE how she climbed out of the pack and play? My only thought is that she must have stacked her toys up and climbed on top of them to get out? And she did it SO quietly. She didn’t fall or anything! I was tempted to rig up a camera and try to catch her in the act but instead I used the remainder of her independent playtime to put away the pack and play (hello clutter free dining room! haven’t seen you in over a year!) and to try to brainstorm what my next move would be.
For Kye, we put him in his bedroom for roomtime. I’ve read SO many scary articles about furniture falling on children and now I’m scared to have Britt do her roomtime in her room. I don’t want to mount her furniture to the walls because we plan on moving her to her big girl furniture around her 2nd birthday, which isn’t very far away! My first plan of action was to get out our big, extendable baby gate and try to rig it up in her bedroom. I figured her kitchen area would make a great roomtime place! Well…it didn’t go so great.
I set the timer for just 5 minutes and she cried the entire time. Then the next day? I set the timer again for 5 minutes and guess who came to visit me in my room within 2 minutes? Yup. Sneaky girl figured out how to escape. It was time for a new plan!
When we first moved into our house Kye made the transition from his room for roomtime to the playroom for roomtime. I am super, duper anal about age appropriate and safe toys in our playroom. All the toys with small pieces or the ones that are made for ages “3 and up” stay downstairs so I can keep a close watch on them. But the “babyish” toys are good to go for the playroom! Now that Kye is older I obviously don’t mind him having smaller toys up there and have been less mindful about the “baby safety” of the room since Britt only plays up there when an adult is up there too.
One of the nice things about the playroom is that there isn’t any furniture! I decided to have her go up to the playroom for roomtime because then I wouldn’t have to worry about the whole furniture attached to the wall concern. I did a survey of the room and the only thing I had to do was make sure the trampoline was safe. It had some screws that stuck out and I was worried she’d get hurt on them so I cut pool noodles and Zach zip-tied them around the legs of the trampoline just to make sure we were good to go!
I decided to slowly ease her into the room. For several days I went up in the playroom with her and just tried to let her play as much on her own without any interruptions from me. She LOVED it! She especially enjoyed the slide and ball pit/tent (as you can tell our tent is about to be headed for the trash haha)
When it was time to start her in there solo I brought up our little independent playtime timer and set it for 5 minutes. Then I went into the guest bedroom (beside the playroom so I could hear her) and waited for the timer to go off so I could cheer and clap and make a big production about how she did!
She cried pretty much the entire five minutes but I kept doing it every day for five minutes until she got to the point where she would cry a little and then start playing. Once it got to that point I bumped it up to 10 min, then 15, etc. When she hears the timer go off she greats me at the gate!
In a matter of days she was LOVING her roomtime!!! Often she won’t want to come down and will want to keep playing. I walked up there and she had ALL the little people animals set up 🙂 I sing the clean up song and have her clean everything up and she does so well with it!
I slowly adjusted the timer every few days and now she typically does 30-40 minutes of roomtime depending on our schedule for the day. I typically have her go up there around 10-1030ish and when she gets done she has a little movie time while I fix lunch before we head to pick up Kye from school. I’m SO glad I made the move to the playroom. I was a little nervous b/c I can’t hear her well up there but she LOVES it and I sneak over to the stairs to listen and make sure she’s doing okay! She plays and plays and will clap and cheer when the timer goes off and even starts cleaning up on her own without me telling her to!
One day when I went up to get her she was in a silly mood and wanted to have a picture with all her favorite playroom things. You know I wasn’t about to deny the child for wanting some pictures taken, even if I only had my phone to snap them with!
Since she didn’t transition to roomtime until school started it’s worked out fine because Kye is not home. I’m interested to see how it will work out when he is home? I was thinking I will still probably have them have their independent playtime at the same time but will have her in the playroom and him in his room to do it? I may also just make it “sibling time” and have them play together up there? Luckily I have awhile before Christmas Break to figure out my plan of action!
You can read about Kye’s transition to roomtime (which also discusses the value of it for toddlers!) here!
This post was extremely helpful because my daughter is almost a year old and I've been wondering how to eventually transition to room time, and whether she'll be safe in her room. We have been doing IP in the playpen for months now (we didn't start with blanket time like we should have!), and it has taken her a really long time to accept that she has to play by herself for 25 minutes a day. (I'd like it to be longer, but 25 is pushing it already!) We still go through periods where she decides she hates it and will whine and fuss most of the time. Some days, I just feel like giving the whole thing up since we're both miserable during those 25 minutes! I think she will enjoy room time more because she'll be able to walk around and explore more things, but I'm glad to read about your experiences and realize that even though she will eventually love it, we might have to go back down to five minutes of misery for a little while, while she adjusts. Good to know!