Parenting requires a ridiculous amount of attention, patience and energy. IncrediParenting takes even more. So, it’s understandable that we would want a few moments of peace every day. That’s what I use the Fortress of Solitude for. But my days of hiding in the bathroom are almost over. Boy Wonder has discovered a new super power. He’s learned how to entertain himself!
As he becomes more mobile, Bex and I are no longer his sole source of entertainment. Boy Wonder is starting to explore the wide world around him. Well, as wide as our living room floor allows, but that’s quite a big frontier for our little guy.
Who would have guessed that the stage for adventure and exploration could be set by laying a quilt on the floor and spreading his toys across it. Suddenly he’s enthralled with his choo choo train, laughing at his stuffed dinosaur doll, or listening to his musical toys with full attention. If he gets bored with one of those things, he just rolls over and finds something new to play with, like a pile of action figures. He will entertain himself for an hour or more this way.
Suddenly, we can sit back and observe. I’m able to read, check my email, work, eat a peanut butter cup—whatever—and all while he plays and explores. It’s not that I don’t want to be engaged with him but its a relief that we don’t have to be tethered to each other 24/7. I just stay close and keep an eye on him.
It’s actually been really fun to follow his exploration of the living room. He’s teaching me more about what he enjoys and what he ignores. For example, he loves his action figures, books, or anything with music but tends to ignore stuffed animals. Alternatively, he will hold a deep conversation with the dog but ignore the cat.
Boy Wonder has also developed a little bit of an independent streak. He wants to do everything himself and gets very stubborn with us if we try to help. It’s been a struggle for me to sit on my hands and resist the urge to help. Allowing him to do something “wrong” is part of the learning experience. I try not to show him the “right way” to play with a toy. It’s more fun to see his imagination at work. Just this morning, Boy Wonder was pawing through one of his board books. The kind that has a fuzzy finger puppet in the middle. He was trying very hard to turn the pages with little success. Finally, he got frustrated enough that he bit the book instead.
Along with this independent streak, he’s also become more vocal. All to often, everything is quiet from his part of the world, then I turn my back for one second and he lets out a blood curdling scream. I race back to see how he got hurt or what’s wrong but it turns out that he’s just bitching at his toys. Everything is absolutely fine. I don’t know what his Joker doll did to piss him off but this kid is not afraid to speak his mind. I’d love to know what’s going on in that brain of his.
When that happens, I don’t interrupt. Playtime is very serious work and I don’t want to be the one to ruin it. I’m letting him explore his environment on his own terms. He decides what to play with, how to play with it, and for how long. Some days he may grab a hold of the music makers for a long time, others days he may bounce from his baby gym to his stacking cups and back again. Play time gets longer and longer each day. I’m amazed at how hard he focuses on the things around him.
So what about you IncrediParents? How do you encourage your little super hero to entertain themselves? Do you limit screen time? Do you give them simple toys like blocks and cups or do you use the light up musical toys too? Make sure you share your stories in the comments below because I’d love to hear what playtime is like in your house.