We're (still!) working on providing Jack plenty of "opportunities" for independent play time, i.e. playing without Mommy's help, guidance, or sights within his vision. :) When I think about our life with another baby in the house in just 5 months, it's obvious that Jack will need to learn how to entertain himself for certain periods of the day. And it's also clear that, on occasion, I need be able to function freely from the grasp of His Jackness. The good news is that we're actually noticing some progress! Both Jon and I got really excited the other night when we realized Jack was playing with his toys, by himself, in the other room. He didn't even seem to notice us for a little while. I have to admit, I'm mostly to blame for this developmental delay. I should have started with pack n' play time when he was first born. But I didn't. I didn't think we had room to keep a pack n' play set up in our house all the time. When I finally realized the need for a safe place to put Jack whenever I had something to do, and that we could certainly make room for such a place if necessary, it was too late. Jack was a very unhappy participant in pack n' play time, and I got little accomplished with his unhappiness pervading the house. At this point, I think he's too big to play in the PnP. There's not much room for him to move around once you put a few toys in there. So I decided to just skip ahead to room time.
The first time I tired this it didn't work out. Jack just stood at the gate in his doorway and cried. But one morning this week I decided to try it again. And it worked - beautifully! When I walked away from setting up the gate he was happily playing with his birthday toys. I was giddy with excitement, trying to think what I could do with the next 20 or so minutes of hands-(and legs and laps) free time. I could use the restroom without worrying about Jack trying to crawl on my lap. I could brush my teeth without using one foot to hold the sink cupboard doors closed and the other foot to keep the toilet seat down. And I could take a shower without Jack trying to jump in after me! And so I did.
My hair was loaded with shampoo bubbles when I heard a noise and Jack yelling. I peeked out of the shower curtain, through the crack in the door and down the hall to Jack's room. And there he was, BREAKING OUT OF HIS GATE! I watched as he threw his weight against the little gate, pushed it right down and crawled after the top and out to freedom. Drat! Here I am, covered in soap, with a toddler loose on my second floor. I immediately thought of the stairs by his door and the cup of water sitting on my nightstand (Jack loves to dump my drinks on himself). Fortunately, I did remember to put the toilet seat down.
He headed straight for the bathroom. I thought if I didn't say anything he wouldn't realize I was behind the shower curtain. This worked for a few minutes, while he unraveled the roll of toilet paper, but it's hard to keep your mouth shut when you catch a glimpse of your child playing with the toilet plunger. Pleh!
He realized where Mommy was and started pushing on the shower curtain. I wrapped things up as quickly as possible and stepped out of the shower to find my child jammed between the bathroom door and the tub wall. He had a good laugh when he saw me and my dripping wet hair. And so, major disaster averted, I at least got my shower in much earlier than usual. You could say room-time was half a success. But I've got a Plan B up my sleeve for the next time.