The first time your toddler is content to play alone is a wonderful day! It’s the start of having a little more free time and it’s a huge developmental milestone too.
I love playing with my toddlers and preschoolers, but there comes a time when I need to get things done around the house and they need to be able to play by themselves without me intervening or having to entertain them constantly.
Quiet playtime was something that started early in our house. My son stopped napping at 18 months old and we had to think fast to find a way to still have that much-needed down time in the middle of the day.
It has served us well over the years, just one simple hour in the middle of the day that my toddler or preschooler is expected to be quiet while his sister naps. We’ve done busy bags, LEGOs and even preschool worksheets.
One of the first tricks I learned was to save toys for quiet time. We have a special closet where we’d keep our busiest toys and only pull them out when I needed a few minutes of peace or when the baby was sleeping. Since the child doesn’t have access to them all the time, they will be new and exciting each time they come out of the closet and buy you a bit of quiet around the house. Here’s what toys we keep in our closet.
Preschool sheets are another great way to keep kids busy! We have puzzle flash cards that they will play with again and again! You can buy them here for 99 cents. Simply print them out and cut along the lines.
Tip: you can laminate them if you want them to last longer
Then, the child can count the bugs on one side and find the matching number to piece them together. They have so much fun with them they don’t even realize it’s school-related.
You can also get these cutting sheets for supervised quiet time. Encourage your little one to cut along the dotted lines. They start with straight lines and then move up to curvy lines! When they reach the stars they get to color them. It’s another favorite and you can snag yours here for 99 cents.
Another tip is to have a dance party with loud music and ask your kids to jump around for 15 minutes or so. Then, give them a snack and ask them to play quietly when they are finished. They will get all their wiggles out while dancing and be more calm to sit and play with toys alone when they are done snacking.
Even though it’s not independent playtime itself, I have found if I spend a little bit of one on one time with my little ones they are much happier to play alone for longer periods of time right after! We frequently play our favorite toddler/preschooler board games before quiet time so they love-tanks are full and they are ready to explore through play by themselves.
How do you get your kids to play quietly or by themselves? I’d love to hear your tips and ideas in the comments!