Our mornings are like this: when she wakes up for the day, she gets a clean diaper and she nurses, provided she wasn’t just up two hours ago doing the same thing (yes, my nearly-one-year-old does not sleep through the night, and I have a complicated relationship with my feelings on the matter), and then I settle her on her bedroom floor in front of her bookcase. If she points to her radio I’ll put on some music for her. She’ll spend the next 10 to 40 minutes happily pulling books off of her shelf, turning their pages, rifling through her baskets of blocks and rattles. Eventually she’ll give up her merry independence to come and find me, though she’s just as likely to find the mirror on the back of her bedroom door and talk to the baby who always seems to be waiting for her behind it.
She needs her privacy. Or at the very least, she often needs the great big milk distraction that is mama to be out of sight, or we’ll just end up having a cuddle fest. Privacy isn’t really something I ever thought that babies had, given their bottoms are wiped by other people. And because I always thought, per Mad-Eye Moody’s greatest tenet of Defense Against the Dark Arts, that they require CONSTANT VIGILANCE to keep from accidentally mortally wounding themselves.
But before Miss E was born I read a lot about fostering an early sense of independence and creating a safe place for play. Her room is a safe space, as is a corner of our living room flooded with light, carpeted in a squishy foam mat, complete with a little shelf stocked with books and more simple toys. Though I often sit near her while she’s getting up to things and just observe (her focus, ingenuity, and brilliance, of course), I also feel confident leaving her to her own devices to make lunch, catch up on emails, or load the dishwasher. She’ll let me know when she needs me. And I think she benefits from being given the space and time to explore, experiment, and decide for herself when she’s ready for me to join in on her play.