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the newbie: Individual Playtime

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By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


June recently inherited a dollhouse from a friend, and she is smitten. She loves the working doors, the ringing phone and the little people who she can move from bed to chair to kitchen. It’s pure 18-month-old bliss!

In fact, I’ve been able to leave her alone in her room while I’m right next door in myown folding laundry or reading or answering a few emails. I can hear her happily buzzing as she talks to the toy dog, as she opens the tiny doll door to let someone in, as she piles everyone into the bathroom all at once (her favorite move, for some reason).

This is the first time she’s truly played on her own, with no interactions from another adult or child. It’s amazing! But it’s also making me feel guilty, like I’m not supposed to spend that time away from her, like I should be there making her doll play more… I don’t know, educational?

Even seeing myself write this, I feel silly. Individual play is good for kids, right? It’s not all about interactive games—a variety of play styles is healthy. So why is there this twinge of guilt at leaving her to her own devices?

Have any other parents experienced this? What do your little ones play on their own?

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