I have reinstituted Room time in our house. Room time is where the children are in their rooms to play for a set period of time.
The purpose of Room time gives the children opportunity to focus (narrow down their visual, their auditory, their physical boundaries), it gives them time to themselves (deals with emotional overload) and of course, gives me some time without interruptions.
When my older two were younger we had Room time every day, straight after lunch. This was my craft hour; one hour to rest myself. Though that wasn’t my goal, it was the spin-off. One of the other benefits was that should someone phone or knock on the door and need time to talk then I could send my children to Room Time knowing that I had one hour of privacy with my friend.
I haven’t been so diligent with Room Time training with my younger two; life has been busier and less routine so the daily habit of practicing Room Time hasn’t been as consistent. And yet, I know they can do it – I just don’t call them to it.
So the other day when I was trying to tweak my routine again to help me get into the office for an hour most days it dawned on me that I had the tool, right there in my parenting toolbox, I just didn’t use it; Room time!
Though Nomi can make wise choices, in her room, for one hour, Daniel still struggles to use his time wisely. So Daniel takes a timer, sets it for 30minutes and he reads for that time, the next 30minutes he plays with toys in his room. Nomi has the freedom to use her time wisely though I do expect some reading to be done.
We started this training from a very young age – at 6months of age it looked like cot time, that is wake time playing in the cot away from direct contact with mum. Then at about 3yo it transferred to Room time, though for a shorter period of time gradually lengthening to the one hour. When in training (10-30min Room Time) we often had two Room Time slots in our day, this of course depended on how long they slept during the day. By the time they gave up their sleep (between 4 and 6yo) we transferred Room time to the same time of their afternoon nap – after lunch. Now, with them a bit older they have lunch, finish their lunch-time responsibilities and then have Room time though it can be called at any time of the day that is suitable for your family.
My older two don’t do Room Time as such. The key to making age appropriate decisions in your house, as children grow older, is to look at the principle and the purpose behind the practice. The principle behind Room Time is that our children need to learn to occupy themselves and use their time wisely. The purpose of Room Time is to train to that end. My older children can make wise choices with their time, and should it be necessary they have the self control not to interrupt me for an hour, therefore they don’t need the physical boundaries of Room Time – they are driven by the boundaries of courtesy, respect and obedience, which of course is our ultimate goal.