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Room Time: {How We Do} Independent Playtime

Room time is not my original idea. I first heard about it when reading through one of the Babywise books. To be honest, I don't remember what their instructions were for room time but I will tell you how it works for us.

Basically, "Room Time" is the same thing as "Independent Playtime". A time for each of our kids to play by themselves in a safe environment for a set amount of time. The place is typically their bedrooms where I am within earshot, but not eyesight of them.

I start room time when my babies are old enough to sit on their own. I put them in their crib, typically at first with a boppy pillow around them in case they topple over, with a few toys and I start out at leaving them for about 10 minutes. I will show them their toys, let them play for just a minute, and then tell them "I love you! Have a good room time!" Then I shut the door and come get them when the time is up. Depending on which kid it is, sometimes they would cry but most of the time at this age they are pretty intrigued with their toys. I slowly work my way up in 5 minute increments up to about thirty minutes at this age.

After they have the hang of room time and they no longer need a boppy to support them, I work my way up to about 45 minutes. Then, when they are comfortable walking I transition them out of their beds to play in their actual rooms. This looked different for both of mine. For the LK, I just took her out of her bed and went straight to her big room, after making sure it was baby-proofed. For Shepherd, I moved him to the play yard in his room for a little while and then out to the big room (I also had him in the play yard in the office for room time while Fisch took his morning nap for a while).

What room time looks like for us right now is at 9:00 every morning, Fisch is in his bed with toys, Shepherd is in the main play area of their room, and LK is in her room. I have a safety knob on the boys door so Shepherd can't get out and they play for 45 mins to an hour. (This hour is typically when I have my time with the Lord and get some other things done around the house).

Here are some room time tips:

--If you havn't started room time from when they are little, it's ok! It's not too late. RT can be especially helpful for children with separation anxiety because it provides a safe controlled environment to teach them that mommy (or daddy) will come get them. You still need to start in short time increments and work your way up.

--If your child has a hard time and cries a lot, you can try putting a timer in the room with them. Set the timer for your designated time and leave it in their with them. Then go get them when it goes off. This will help them learn that you will get them at a specific time, not just because they are crying.

--With the exceptions of them being sick or having a specifically difficult day, I will let them cry it out in room time. But my best advice for this is to know your kid! I can usually tell if they are crying just because their will is being tested and they don't want to obey or if there really is something wrong. When they are little and just starting out, I don't let them cry more than ten minutes in room time.

--Save favorite toys for room time and put them up at other times. That way it will be a treat when they go to room time.

--Treat this like you do other training times for your kids: with trial and error and a lot of grace (for you and them)!

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