Basically, as your toddler gets older you put some structured independent time into your daily schedule to bolster their independence. Ideally, I believe they suggest you start working on room time (having previously had independent time on a blanket or in a play pen previous to this) around ages 21-24 months. I had to start Cupcake slightly earlier though, because with the arrival of Peanut... and Cupcake's new found ability to climb out of a crib and play pen around the same time - I had to come up with some way to take a shower on a daily basis. Cupcake had always excelled at independent time in a play pen, which I used when she was younger to do chores during the day or make dinner... so I figured - what the hey, we will give it a go.
We started the week after Christmas, so that Daddy was home to help keep watch and ease her into the transition. You start with a lower time limit, around 10-15 minutes and the goal is to work up to a time length as long as 45 minutes of independent play time in their room. In the book and on other blogs you see an image of a well behaved child, quietly playing with some non-electric toy, in a pin neat room for the entire length of independent play time.
This is not my child.
Cupcake is a... spirited toddler. And very creative. She can find the delight and humor in the most simple of things. Like throwing clothing that used to folded neatly in her dresser drawers into the air while yelling, "Wheeee!".
So while I delight in the fact that Cupcake has taken well to independent time in her room in the mornings, and worked up to the 30-45 minutes that I need in the morning to get in the shower... I also never know what I'm going to walk in to when room time is over. Some days it is not too bad, some toys here and there - books strewn through the room... other days... it looks like a hurricane of Q-tips and clothing has swept the room.
Let's not leave it up to me to give you a written description though... They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so for a week I brought the camera up to her room after room time to capture what room time means at our house.
|1/25: This day's theme was apparently "Q-tips"...|
|1/25: Looks kind of annoyed that I crashed her party!|
|1/26: Room time must have been so exhausting this day, that I came in to find her taking a bit of a rest!|
|1/27: Pretty tame day...|
Then we had a few uneventful days... she was saving it all up for the finale...
|1/30: The Grand Finale... empty drawers, Tah Dah!!|
|"Nevermind cleaning up this mess, Mom! Let's get straight to reading books! "|
(We have reading time after room time.)
I will say, she's getting better. Messes are not as frequent - and this was a particularly "spirited" week when I took the pictures. She's still a few months away from being 2 years old... so I think as she gains a bit more age, it will keep getting better and better. For now, I will keep perfecting my folding skills...