I want to encourage you today to take some time for yourself. If you have a child in the 2-5 year-old range, it can be tempting to “go, go, go” all day, just counting the hours until bedtime when you can finally relax and unwind. Many of us fall into the trap of being our child’s playmate, companion and cheerleader all day long! It’s important that she sees you doing things for yourself, and that she learns the important life skill of independent play. Allowing periodic separation throughout the day will rejuvenate your relationship and leave room for growth on many levels!
If your child expects constant attention, make this transition slowly. While you’re playing together, tell her that you need to step away for 2 minutes to…switch the laundry, grab a glass of water, check on the baby, use the potty, etc. Set a timer and leave it with her, saying you will be back when it beeps. Be extremely casual about it – try not to make eye contact or repeat yourself! You’re not talking her into this, you’re just doing it because you’re the one in charge. 🙂 Get up and leave, ignoring any protests. If she follows you, allow her to come, but don’t wait on her. When the timer beeps, walk back to where you were playing and pick up where you left off without skipping a beat. Repeat this at least two more times during the play session.
The next step is to pull toys out that will hold her attention and say something like, “I’m planning to read a book and enjoy my tea on the back porch while you play. I’ll set the timer for 20 minutes and I expect you to keep yourself busy until the timer goes off. If you do this, I’ll come play with you for a bit when we hear the beep.” Follow through with this promise, and talk to her about what she did during her playtime. Be sure to let her know you enjoyed your reading time just as much as she enjoyed the time by herself!
It’s so important for our kids to see us as separate people with our own desires. We spend so much of our time and energy making sure they feel secure and loved, but our tanks need to be filled as well, with intentional moments that leave us feeling grounded and strong.