Alone Time is such a simple thing to implement but has huge gains for our kids. As a
Speech Therapist, when I would first introduce the concept parents often had
doubts, but would later list it as one of the best things they learned from Caregiver
Training. Most people fall into one of two categories:
- Need it – These are people that need alone time or they get relationally drained.
- Hate it – These are people who get energy from others and hate being alone, but they will find benefit in the practice as well. Sometimes in life, we find ourselves alone...
Socially it is helpful if people can process being alone and then when the time has
ended transition into interactions with others. Siblings who begin to
understand that other family members need space gain consideration
and can use it in friendships and later marriage. As our kids gain this self-awareness
of alone time recharging them, they can use this throughout their lives to help
manage various relationships. Once Alone Time is established into the daily routine, it
becomes even easier to implement PLAtime with one child at a time. While others are
engaged in Alone Time, engage one child in a PLA activity from the box. Later in the week,
set up for Sibling Time where that child leads the sibling(s) through the activity while you
wrap up work task or chore.
Today, I spent the morning planning for our Alone Times this summer using the
concepts outlined below. Since my boys are a bit older this summer they will be
gone much more than in summers past but I still organized some bins for them. So,
with summer right around the corner here are 5 Things about Alone Time to help
you plan it into your family:
- It can be trained at any age- but the younger, the better. Small toddlers can be trained, especially with a Pack-n-Play. For older kids, special pillows or beanbag chairs are great and can only be used for “Alone Time”.
- 20-40 minutes seems to be a great dosage for most people. Some will naturally get more and some less each day but knowing that a certain timeframe is set aside and guarded is so helpful.
- Supplies for “Alone Time” are only used during this time and not any other, especially for small children. If something can’t be cleaned up completely, it must be left to be completed during a later “Alone Time” session. I use what we already have at home and divide into bins for each kid prior to school ending, plus I will purchase a couple new items from the Dollar Tree. We also keep library books in these bins so we always know where they are and so we can read during Alone time if we choose.
- People do not have to necessarily be separated into different rooms; it is most successful when everyone in the family does it simultaneously. Our optimal time during summer season is after we have spent the day at the pool and have come home, just before starting dinner. When the kids were younger, it was usually when the baby dropped that morning nap. For clients, they have used it immediately when getting home from work and picking up kids from daycare; 20 minutes before they tackled homework and worked on dinner preparation. Quiet home with no conversation or electronics is ideal at lease until middle school. When oldest is in middle, that may be the only time they have a minute to themselves to listen to music or play a video game without interruption.
- It can be entertaining but can also be used for project completion or life/spiritual discipline.
Suggested lengths/items for Alone Time by age (gradually add by one minute to increase as they grow):
6 months -18 months (10-15 minutes)
shape sorters, teethers, soft books, peek-a- boo or pop-up toys or books
baby stuffed toys that have magnets or Velcro where hands and feet stick together
multi-sided block or ball with different textures
Piggy bank with large plastic coins to drop in take out
18 months – 3 years ( 15-25 minutes)
books, Zip-snap-button toys, Sensory Box, Puzzles, Wire coaster toys
any of the 6-18 month listed above after they had been put away for at least one month so they seem new again to the child
PreK-Kindergarten (30 minutes)
Books, Dry Erase Board and eraser, Magna Doodle, Peg toys
Blocks, Magnet Letters/ Numbers and cookie sheet, simple dot-to- dot,
simple mazes, tracing activities inside clear sleeves with dry erase marker
Elementary School Age (30-45 minutes)
Deck of cards (to practice shuffle and deal, solitaire, or magic tricks)
U magnet with small objects or magnet scene sets
Sketch pad and pencils, Books
Stress ball, Building Sets, Stick-on Manicure items or jewelry, Finger football set
Paper for paper ball trick shots and cup, Beading kits, Circuit sets
Mini pinball games
Middle School Age (30-45 minutes)
Books, Brain Teasers, Card deck, Devotionals, Journals
Magazines of interest, Info on collections/interests, Ear buds
Mani/pedi items, Desk games from Office Supply stores
Video games, I-Tunes gift cards