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Parents working at home: the importance of independent play

Parents working at home: the importance of independent play

Working from home while raising children is a very common situation in nowadays families and there is no doubt that this can be relatively challenging. Because juggling time and attention between actual work and taking care of kids is similar to having another full-time job, except this one comes with no vacations! 

However, with a few fundamental changes and sticking to a strict time-management routine,  you'll be able to allocate enough time for everything. It's not always going to be convenient, but it's still worth it at the end of a day. And introducing youngsters to independent play can become your best solution.

A great advantage of working from home is that you get to spend time with your baby since work schedules are more flexible and you don't have to commute. You'll be there to watch your little one grow every day! Yet, the challenge is managing your time and attention in such a way that you can be productive at work and spend quality time with your children, meeting their needs.

Don't undervalue the power of education!

You can find many great articles online about how work-at-home parents can increase their productivity. But let's remember that our goal is to be truly there for our little ones.

Taking into consideration that kids don't function on a set schedule, it's especially important for a stay-at-home mom or dad to organize and balance their work agenda. A child’s nap is a great time to fulfill tasks that require complete concentration and silence, so try prepping everything you'll need to take advantage of that free time. Keep in mind that when the baby falls asleep, it’s your signal for head start to finish at least some key work tasks for the day.

Another perfect strategy for work-at-home parents is to encourage their child’s independent play. When the toddler is busy and focused on activities that contribute to their own development, the parent has more time to focus on work.

So what is independent play?

Independent play is when children explore and learn on their own. This can be done with any toy that interests them, in a small room or a part of the living room where parents are relatively close. It's ideal for babies, as it allows them to explore surroundings in their own ways and learn about the world around.

This type of play is also a great way for them to understand how to problem solve and work through challenges. It lets them analyze their interests and figure out their strengths, weaknesses, enjoy and learn what they.

Parents can promote independent play by creating a safe place for their children to play and entertain with several toys that interest them. It's also important to be nearby, in case the child needs help or wants to show you something they've discovered or become good at. 

All in all, playing independently teaches children how to be creative, think for themselves and is a great way for little explorers to come up with their own ideas and figure out how to make them work. This is an important skill that will benefit them in school and in their careers.

Prepare a room for each activity

Space is important for children when they are performing on their own. In order to prepare the space, we make sure that the environment is set up in a way that allows children to have access to the things they need. Because, having their own designated space where they can work makes it easier for them to be independent.

This includes making sure that the shelves are neat and organized, and that all items are in place. We also should provide children with tables and mats so that they have a set play space ready for various activities. This helps them to be more organized and to keep track of all the items they need for their entertainment and imaginative play.

Creating safe play space for your child is important, as it also demonstrates boundaries and rules:

  • this space is for play;
  • this space is for eating;
  • this space is for work;
  • etc.

This separation lets children feel involved in the dynamics of their home, thus, when they want to play, they know where to go and soon begin to do so on their own. They are almost always happy to join their parents, but they understand that they are perfectly fine playing alone or with siblings.

Next step is to stick to a routine

There are different types of activity cycles. One good example is the Montessori cycle, which is commonly used in the Montessori schools. When it comes to children, it is important that they focus on one task at a time and finish it completely before choosing something else. This is the best way for them to learn and grow, and it will help them develop good habits.

It can be difficult for children to focus on one task, especially when there are so many things going on around them. But it is important for them to try. When they are able to focus and complete a task, they will feel a sense of accomplishment and joy.

We should encourage our children to focus on one task at a time, and help them to develop the habit of completing what they have started. This cycle is considered to be more difficult at first, but parents have to be extremely consistent at reminding the kids of this until they get the hang of it. This is a valuable skill that will serve them well in life.

And that's why…

…if you want your kid to behave well, it's important to be consistent with your expectations. In the moment, when they start to test the boundaries by breaking the cycles, remind them that they can remove the restrictions to do other things by themselves, or you can help them do it, but that it will no longer be an option until they agree to follow your rules. This will help them understand that you are serious about your expectations and that they need to behave well in order to maintain the privileges they enjoy.

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