Yesterday was a doozy in the Wilson Household. I don't know how many 3-year-old-spankings took place but there were a lot along with an equal number of timeouts and there was probably even more crying and whining. It was out. of. control.
Which brought us to the evening. Around 6pm I was donezo. So, I was really happy that we'd reached the part of the day when we will often do "Blanket Time" with Ransom. We like to do it after dinner because that's often a restless and whiney time for Ransom anyway and its often a time when we need to get a few things done ( usually dinner dishes etc). And lets be honest, Brett and I have usually had a long day of childrearing and armyworking and we could all use a little bitty break. And so Blanket Time was implemented.
In our house its actually "rug" time, but it started before we actually owned the rug we now do it on, so it started out on an actual blanket. Basically you just need something that has "boundaries". And with my 2 year old ( when this started he was still 2) I also wanted him to not be in a gated area or a playpen, but in something that he could technically get out of, and therefore he'd have to learn some discipline/rule following too! WIN.
Now, I know a bunch of people that do this with there MUCH younger children ( as in under 1). And if you'd like info on that I'd be happy to pass on the details. However, I think to do it with a younger child you have to be pretty disciplined about doing it every single day and turns out I'm not that disciplined and so we got out of practice and didn't really start doing it until Ransom was older and we could teach him about blanket time and then do it when it was needed ( often every day, often not...) .
So with that being said this is the short course of how we taught Ransom- age 2- to do blanket time.
1. We told Ransom the rules well before hand. "We're going to be doing this fun thing called blanket time after dinner!! You get to get any toys you want on your blanket, and then you have to stay on the blanket to play with them! There is no talking to Mommy and Daddy or playing with Mommy and Daddy during blanket time! You just get to play by yourself! And THEN at the end the duck will quack on Mommies phone and blanket time will be over! ( for us, a duck quacking was reward enough, but feel free to add something like a sticker or a stamp for a reward of a job well done, if you'd like.)
2. We discussed the rules SEVERAL more times.
3. We get out the blanket, and help him pick out his toys and transfer them to the blanket, make sure he has plenty so that he won't have the chance of being the least bit bored. Remind of the rules AGAIN.
4. The hard part is doing blanket time the first couple of times. Your child will inevitably, leave the blanket, talk to you, ask you to play with them etc. etc. each time you will have to put them back on the blanket, tell them not to talk to you during blanket time, remind them of the rules again and again.
After a while ( you will know when!) you will know that your child KNOWS the rules and is just breaking them.
5. When Ransom fully knew the rules and just chose to break them we started giving him hand spankings when he would break the blanket rules. We felt like full blown "go to your room spankings" defeated and overblew the whole point of blanket time. These little hand spankings were enough discipline for us to show Ransom that we meant business and that he needed to do blanket time correctly. There were tantrums. We persevered.
6. It took about a week of blanket time every single day ( 15 minutes of time) before we had a non-cry blanket time. As in a whole blanket time without any discipline taking place. I honestly doubted if it was going to EVER be worth the trouble...
7. BUT once Ransom got it down, realized he had to follow the rules and stay in the boundaries he started to really LOVE blanket time! He would actually ASK for it! He will often stay on his blanket for 45 minutes ( usually we just do 30)!
* other things to consider*
We do blanket time in a place that Ransom can see us. Its right in the middle of our living area so that he doesn't feel "alone" necessarily even though he's suppose to be playing alone.
Once Ransom really got use to blanket time I wouldn't even set my timer ( sneaky sneaky) and would just have Ransom play until I could tell he was getting restless ( or he'd even ask if the duck had quacked yet) and then if it had been a goodly amount of time then I'd just set the timer for 1 minute and have it quack on demand. Haha!
I know a lot of people that, once they've taught their child "blanket time" they'll take the blanket with them to bible studies or coffee times with friends and put down their blanket and PRESTO! their child is happily quiet and contained until said time is complete!
*There are obviously variations to blanket time and I've seen it done many different ways with many different age kids- I'm interested to hear your positive input on the matter!
A view from the kitchen of Ransom doing blanket time, and a little sister watching.