With the Kids

3 Ways to Promote Independent Playtime

Even though our playroom is a pretty fun place to play, my kids still like to be right where I am. If I’m in the kitchen, they’re running around me in circles. If I’m on the couch, they’re climbing all over me. You might know what I’m talking about. So I’m going to try to encourage my kids to have some independent playtime by themselves more often. It might be in the playroom or even at the table next to me.

3 Ways to Promote Independent Playtime

Independent Playtime for Kids

1. Start fresh

Try to have the play area clean before each playtime. It tends to be much more inviting if everything is all picked up and put away. Often times if their playroom is a mess with toys out all over like landmines, they won’t even go in as they don’t know where to start, or even walk! We’ve learned to clean up our playroom each time we play, either at the start or after. It makes it clean and inviting, ready for action.

2. Set up the environment

Even if the room is clean and ready to be played in, it can be a hard decision for a child to know where to start. They can be apprehensive to dive in and start playing with something, as it might feel that there are too many choices. To help with this, I will set out a specific set of toys encouraging them to play. I’ll get out the farm playhouse and display all the animals around the farm. This helps my kids get excited about playing.

3. Getting them started

There are times when I need to spend a few minutes playing with my kids. This helps them get started and involved in the activity, then they are usually good to keep going on their own. I tell my daughter I will play princess dinosaurs for a few minutes, but then after, I’ll let her stay and play on her own. This can help them know you’ll be there, helping get them started, and they will hopefully be involved enough to stay and have some independent playtime on their own.


  1. I know this post is old! But it’s fresh insight for me. Yes, *I* feel overwhelmed when I go in to do my own projects and my desk is a mess. An orderly presentation of activities is helpful for kids of all ages. Great idea!

  2. Mozi Esmes Mom – I love this idea for setting up activities while they nap. Then the area is ready for action when they wake up! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great post! One thing I’ve found helpful is setting up new activities while my daughter is napping. Inevitably I’m in the middle of doing something else when she wakes up, and if there’s something new to capture her attention then, she’ll occupy herself while I finish up whatever I’m doing.

  4. Great tips! You’ve spelled out three simple rules which are so obvious, yet sometimes I need to have the obvious stated. Thanks for the simple reminder. You sound like a great mom!

  5. Perhaps as a follow up to this post, you can list the rules for “Princess Dinosaurs”?
    Thanks for the tips. I’m a little apprehensive about summer…

  6. I think you have to set the expectation of play with some kids, let them know they’re on their own for a little while, and set the stage.

    I love it. Great for the coming Summer months of *I’m bored!*

  7. great post! my kids are actually quite good at playing by themselves, so when they need a little help, I tend to be a bit impatient. your tips are super helpful and a good remind for me to find a balance.

    here’s to a fun summer!! :)

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