Custom mug from brandnex.com
When was the last time you peed alone?
When was the last time you cooked dinner without accidentally stepping on little toes?
When was the last time you talked on the phone with your friends without having to stop the conversation to help your toddler down from the dining room table?
When was the last time you managed to get a second coat on your nails without ending up with the paint smudged everywhere?
When was the last time you felt that your child was fully engaged, safe and that you had some time for yourself. Being a parent can be an amazing, incredible, love-filled journey, but it can also be overwhelming and exhausting.
Is your house conducive for independent play?
Right from birth, it is possible for babies to develop a sense of autonomy and independence. Independence can mean a number of different things.
As a newborn baby who is not able to feed, change or move by themselves, independence can mean simply laying on a blanket on the floor and experiencing the world without any intervention from others. It can mean watching the clouds, feeling the wind, listening to the dog bark without having another person interrupt them.
As babies grow older, independence starts to take on new meanings. It can mean reaching for an object and holding it in their hand, rolling from side to side, pushing up onto their elbows, learning to crawl and learning to walk, and eventually wanting to help put their own shoes and socks on.
Independence is something that children seek and begin to experience right from birth. Sometimes we forget to nurture our children’s’ independence. We ask our babies to “take that out of your mouth,” ask our toddlers to “get down from there now” rather than providing them with opportunities where they can make safe choices for themselves.
What if it were as easy as developing a space witch nurtured a child’s natural drive to seek independence, which allowed a child to be safe, to make their own decisions and to play and explore the way they choose to without any intervention from others at all.
Does your child have a space like this?
If not, then read on…
The first step in creating an environment which … independence for your child is working out where best to set it up. It could be in their bedroom, in the family room, in the kitchen – anywhere that can easily be sectioned off.
You can add a baby gate or a playpen to ensure that your child can remain within their very own safe space. A safe space can be incredibly empowering for a baby or a young child.
When working out what to put into this space, safety is the number one factor. You don’t want to use any furniture, which can fall on top of a child or any furniture, which can be climbed that you do not wish them to climb on as you are concerned they could fall. I like to use small baskets instead of shelving to store toys and books. Make sure there is nothing in the space which could be considered a choking hazard and nothing that is toxic. If you can, make the space in an area where there are not electrical outlets, if this is not possible, cover every single outlet with a childproof cover.
Next think about the things you don’t want them to do. If you don’t want to risk getting paint over your walls, do not leave paint set up in the space. If you do not want the picture frames hanging up to be broken, either remove the picture frames or ensure they are far out of reach.
If he is a baby, small lightweight toys, which can be transferred easily from hand to hand and can be explored with his mouth if he likes can be a great addition to the space. Differently textured square pieces of material – tulle, felt, teddy-bear fur etc can also be interesting things for babies to look at and touch. If you create the space near a window, your baby can watch the clouds pass by and the leaves of trees rustle.
If your child is older consider dolls houses, train sets, wooden blocks, lego, books, containers, dress-ups.
The key to what to put in the space is making sure it is open-ended, that is, there are many different ways to use it. If you notice that your child is spending less time engaging with one thing after a while, you can take it out and replace it with something new.
When a child enters their new space for the first time, don’t expect hours of independent play instantly. Learning to feel okay while being independent can take a little getting used to, especially if you have never experienced it before!
To help your child develop confidence in their independence, and learn to enjoy their own company, you can spend some time in the space with your child, but then leave to do something for a short period of time – five minutes or so at first, then a little longer each time after that. Make sure you tell your baby or child where you are going and how long it will be before you come back. Be confident that they will be ok in their space, and believe in their ability to learn to enjoy independent play.
If your children are in a space which is safe, engaging and promotes independence, then that allows you to do whatever else you need or want to do – be that, pee alone, cook alone, chat with your girlfriend, or paint your nails in peace!