Roomtime–Your Invitation



I have said it before and I will say it today (and I will say it in the future)–if I were forced to choose only a few principles from the -wise series I could use, one of them would no doubt be independent playtime. Roomtime is Independent Playtime (referred to as “solo playtime at our house) in a room. It is so valuable that I wanted to extend an invitation to each of you to do roomtime with your children.



Through looking at the -wise books, the suggested age for roomtime (instead of playpen time) is 18-22 months. On Becoming Toddlerwise says 18-20 months old (page 150). Babywise book II says 18-22 months old (page 76).


There will, of course, always be exceptions to this general age suggestion. Brayden started roomtime around 14 months because we started independent playtime late. Plus he was a big mover, and I think in general, big movers are going to be happier with a move to roomtime earlier than the sitting-type.


Kaitlyn moved over at 12 months. The reason for this, though, was that the floorspace in her room was not much larger than a playpen would be, and this way I could lazily not set up the playpen and take it down every day.


McKenna was just turning 20 months old when we finally had roomtime success. It scared her at first for some reason, but she was ready at 20 months.


Here is a key point: “It is important to increase a child’s boundaries as the child develops” (Toddlerwise page 151). Don’t wait too long to start roomtime or you will greatly frustrate your child. Also, don’t start it before your child has developed to the appropriate point. This quote is very applicable not only in roomtime, but in all aspects of parenting. You let go of control over time and give the child more freedoms. Hard? Absolutely. But part of growing up.



Roomtime takes place in a room, but which room is up to you.


My choice is the child’s room. I know it is a child-safe room without me right there telling them what they can and cannot do. Not all people can do bedrooms–you might have a sleeping child in the bedroom or the bedroom isn’t a safe room to play in.


In those cases, simply choose another location. The room does not fundamentally matter.



What is roomtime? Here are some basics:

  • Structured learning time
  • Something the parent decides. Mom decides when and where this happens–but that means mom has great responsibility for finding out when and where is the best time for it to happen. This means you tell your child when roomtime starts. Your child running off to play alone for an hour when he feels like it does not equate to roomtime.
  • Child plays alone
  • It is the extension of playpen time
  • A gate might be necessary (or the shutting of the door) initially
  • Eventually, you want the child to stay in his room without physical restrictions. For my older two, this happened as three year olds. McKenna is 24 months old and still requires a door shut (I do doors–not gates).

What isn’t roomtime?

  • A time to “ransack the room” (Toddlerwise 150). This doesn’t mean your child won’t. Each child is unique. Brayden made little to no mess and usually cleaned up all of his toys right before I got him out of roomtime. Kaitlyn played with the toys before her and created a mess you would expect to see. Initially, McKenna made little to no mess, but then she went through a “tornado phase” when she got great pleasure in making messes wherever she stood–so of course roomtime turned into “ransack” time. It lasted 2-4 weeks and she then she moved to a normal sized mess.
  • For more on this, see the post Independent Playtime Is Not…


“Yielding to parental instruction as standard behavior is part of the learning structure you’re attempting to establish. The self-control inherent in obedience is the same self-control that advances the child in other disciplines” (Toddlerwise page 151).


Here you are developing so many skills, one of the greatest being self-control. Self-control is, in my opinion, one of the hardest qualities to master. Think about adults. Who do you know who lacks self-control when it comes to finances? Do you know anyone who lacks self-control in eating habits? (um, you know me and sometimes I really don’t control myself, so answer yes). Know someone with a temper (other than your toddler)? Compulsive shopper? Gossiper? Procrastinator? The list goes on.


Self-control is not easy. Giving a child the opportunity to exercise this skill is a great gift. If self-control is achieved, you are setting your child up to be a healthier, kinder, more stable, more patient, better student, etc etc etc of a person than he would be otherwise. See why I sing its praises constantly?


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18 thoughts on “Roomtime–Your Invitation”

  1. My son is 20 months old and has been doing playpen time ever since I began staying at home (about 12 months). I switched to roomtime with a gate, but he just ransacked his room and got very upset that I had left him. I tried putting his playpen in his room instead, thinking he wasn't ready, but he just thew all his toys out. Any advice?

  2. 'Been wanting to ask a question, but was prompted by today's post. My son has been doing independent play since 6 months, blanket since 12, and roomtime since 18 months. He's now 2, but I HATE roomtime. We do 30 minutes, 4 times a week (no weekends and I work one day a week), and he prefers to sit and suck on his fingers rather than play. He stays in his room with no physical barriers (always has), does not make a mess, and knows he can only come out to go to the bathroom. I don't allow him to suck on his fingers when I'm around (and he doesn't), but he sees roomtime (and naptime) as his opportunity. I've sat outside his room and corrected him verbally when I hear him sucking; I've put gloves on him as a reminder (this just makes him cry the whole time); I've switched up his toys, but to no avail. Any advice? I'm due with #2 in June and would like to use roomtime as a nursing time… but don't know how to handle the policing. (FYI, he's never liked roomtime/independent play…it's not a new development for him not to play)

  3. This is a great post! I've never been able to get the hang of room time with my toddler. He isn't a babywise baby and I have only start recently implimenting room time with him….and I haven't been consistent with it every day like I should. He does better than he did in the beginning but he will cry the whole time, take of his clothes and diaper and pee on the floor, bang on the door, throw books, etc. I've cleared EVERYTHING out of his room that I could think of but he'll still freak out some of the time that he's in there. Any recommendations? He gets very scared with room time and I don't know why!

  4. I homeschool my 4 and 6 yr olds and LOVE room time! My 2 1/2 yr old plays for an hour in his room (he prefers for the door to be shut) so I can get reading and math accomplished without distractions from him. He doesn't typically want to go, but he is fine once we are there and I turn on some music. He has trains and other toys in his room, but 90% of the time he just "redas" books from his book shelf. He doesn't make too big of a mess either unless he has trouble getting the books back on the shelf.My 4 and 6 yr olds have room time, called rest time now in the afternoon while my son is sleeping. This is also a God-send because I am pregnant with #4 and need that time to nap right now. Plus, it gives them time away from each other which helps with general getting along.So Go Roomtime!

  5. my DD is 17 months old and i'd like to give roomtime a try in the next month or two. she cries anytime there is a barrier between us though, so how would you ease into doing this until she is playing and not crying? add 10 min per month? use a timer? be in sight at first or out of sight the whole time? i know it will be torture in the beginning, how long till it generally gets better for this age group? thanks!

  6. Have your kids ever gotten upset about the door being closed? Did you just ignore it or go in & remind them what that time is for?I did babywise for developing a sleep schedule, but not really for anything else. My daughter is 23 months & I've been trying for about 6 weeks to teach independent play. I've set a timer that she can hear from her room and showed her what she can play with. I explained what we were doing and even offered a reward for staying in her room until the timer went off. I think it's happened once. I know she's capable of entertaining herself – she just watns me to be in the room. Yesterday I spent 30 minutes in her room switching out clothes & she happily played by herself that whole time.Any advice?

  7. my question is also of similar nature to others. My son cries any time i leave him alone in the room. Interestingly, it didn't bother my to CIO to teach him to go to sleep, but it's harder for me with roomtime. is it normal for them to cry so hard?he is 21mo and is in daycare 5days a week. is it worth it to start roomtime on the weekends?Thanks a lot!

  8. I have been doing independent play with my daughter since she was just a couple months old and she is now two. I have kind of stopped for awhile because she takes all her clothes out of the bottom two drawers and anything else she can get a hold of. She has plenty of toys and books to play with but as soon as the door is closed, she goes straight to the drawers. I've told her no and make her help pick them up, but she still does it almost every time. This has been going on for several months whenever I decide to try independent play. Any suggestions?

  9. Grant and Jenni, I think that is pretty normal behavior for the new freedom of being in the room on his own. I would explain to him what he can and cannot do (over and over). When he has done something he shouldn't (like, when McKenna pulled every wet wipe out of her container…) tell him "that's a no" and have him help clean up–but don't make the cleaning up seem like a punishment, just what happens when you make a mess. You clean up after yourself.

  10. Miranda, honestly, I wouldn't worry about the finger sucking during roomtime. Work on it when he is out of his room, but when he is in his room at this age, I wouldn't worry about it.

  11. Kelsey, see this post:

  12. Summer, see this post: luck!

  13. Katy,My kids don't mind the door being closed. Since she hasn't had to play alone for so long, I would expect that she will take some time to get to being happy playing alone. See this post for help in getting started: luck!

  14. Vita, I don't know if I would do it for just two days a week; I don't know if you would make enough progress in two days. I would start it from a baby age in that situation, but I don't know if you will really b able to make progress in two days. But a timer can work for a lot of kids, so setting a timer might help. You could also implement the ideas in this post:

  15. Kim,McKenna was similar. It really just took time to outgrow. I had to be consistent for a month or two of telling her not to do certain things and we had a big mess to clean up. She did eventually stop doing it. So I would suggest you just keep it up and stay consistent and she will get it.

  16. val, the link you have me came up as a picture. the link ended in "jpg" so that makes sense. could you please repost the linK? thanks

  17. Oh how funny! Sorry about that. EVERYONE I GAVE A LINK TO–This is the right one:


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