My Observations When My Daughter Was Around 3.5 Years
Living aboard with less family around it always my daughter and myself alone most of the day. I can engage and play with her at max of 1 hour a day. Yes, this applies to her dad too!
True ! No parent can engage a kid always. Kids need time to think and articulate.
How we engage ?
Playing with her will be like 20 mins-20 mins -20 mins throughout that day based on her mood, my house hold work and my ‘me’ time schedule. ‘Me’ time always helps SAHM mommies especially to maintain their sanity.
Few days we read 5-6 books for like 1.5 hours and few other days she turns pages & tells story based on pictures (her own story) and less reading from my side!
So this lead my daughter to do more free play as early as 18 months, then she started to be more independent ! With structured toy setup, she ends up choosing her Peppa toys more and these are her play buddies for more than 8-10 months!
What does my daughter do during free play?
These toys are actually her class student’s yes literally. She reads books, questions and imitates just like her school teacher. And when her Peppa toys fight and throws tantrums, they get time outs
She has converted her dominos in her class setup. Feeds her toys, teach them, give them play ground time and so on! It will look like she talking more to toys but she is learning a lot. I allow free plays during weekends or when I can’t engage her much or when toys are not sorted.
You don’t not need any fancy toys but go for simple toys, for these free play activities. These encourages a lot of imagination in kids which is really important for kids to growth both physically and mentally.
At end every kid is unique, these activities kindles their creativity!