As the parent of an only child, there are plenty of times when I feel bad leaving my girl to play alone. But truthfully, it doesn't matter if you have one child or four, because many mothers feel that "am I leaving my kid alone too much?" pang. That, or they feel guilty at times when they can't join in and play with their children.
As mommies, we should of course make time to play with our kids as that's how we bond and connect with them, but that should be balanced with making time to have some fun ourselves. Teaching our kids how to be OK with being alone from time to time is a great life skill, but there's is a difference between neglecting your kid and giving your child time to learn to be independent while you do 50 million other things as a mom.
Read through for six reasons you should feel glad your child is learning to simply be alone.
1. They'll learn how to manage time.
When you are alone as an independent worker — which many of us are as adults for at least a portion of our day — you need to learn how to manage your time on your own without someone hovering over you to remind you what to do next. Although a child could never be that independent all day long, playing alone can teach a child how to work within a time frame to accomplish whatever he or she wants — build a castle or read a book, etc.
2. They'll figure out how to make their own fun.
Being alone after my divorce was peaceful at times, but also challenging. I needed to find a new way to use my time when my daughter was with her dad. This meant "finding the fun" on my own, even if that just meant running errands and catching up on a whole bunch of random stuff.
The same can be said for children who are learning how to "find the fun" while they're alone at play. Learning how to make your own fun is a great life skill and, quite frankly, builds imagination. If a child is alone, he or she can use his or her imagination in different ways than when playing with others. Simply put, your child has no choice but to get creative!
3. They'll realize that not every moment is a party.
You won't always have someone to play with, talk to, date, etc., in life. There will be periods of time — whether it's for a few hours or a few days — in which you're operating solo. Knowing that these times may be lonely but life can't always be a party or the thrill/height of our lives is an important lesson for your little to learn.
Your child will grow to appreciate the truly "exciting times" even more than they do now after having some time alone.
4. They'll learn to enjoy their own company.
Isn't it nice when you get five seconds to yourself to do something you absolutely love? Yes! Children should learn that it's actually nice to be in their own company — that alone does not necessarily equal lonely. That they can look forward to doing a few special things on their own without anyone there to entertain them.
5. They'll figure out how to problem-solve on their own.
When a child is given the chance to be independent, a child can learn how to figure out solutions on his or her own. Alone play time or craft/tablet/game time — whatever the case may be — can be an opportunity for your kiddo to learn how to find answers without turning to you or someone else.
6. They'll discover what it is to give you some space, and why that's important.
When you tell your child you need space to accomplish certain tasks on your own or simply catch your breath, you're teaching your child to:
- Respect that sometimes moms needs alone time to decompress — that people need space to recoup
- Honor that you have work to do and that's important you complete the work you must do, teaching your child that sometimes we need to get our elbows dirty and remove distractions (although of course your child is a necessary and lovely distraction!)