My boy will be 7 months old at the end of November. In the last couple of weeks I’m noticing he gets angry when he’s not constantly entertained. I want to start to teach him to learn to play on his own while I am supervising, doing dishes or cleaning so he can gain some healthy independence. Any suggestions on how to do this without having to let him cry it out to the point of exhaustion? This doesn’t do good things for my mommy heart. Tough love is hard.
Having little ones cry is really hard for a momma! I'm sorry you are going through this. 7 months is right at the end of age span when most babies gain object permanence (when they realize that something out of their sight isn't actually gone). Your little one may be struggling with you not being near him because he is afraid. He may just need your physical presence to reassure him that you are still there.
For the short-term, have you considered babywearing? This would give you the ability to get some things done, but also give him the closeness he needs. If you need more information on babywearing you can go to the Babywearing International website. There is a lot of information on the hows and whys of babywearing. I know that they also have groups that lend babywearing wraps and carriers. This can make babywearing much more affordable.
For the long-term, I would help him learn to play by himself when there is nothing at stake (meaning when you are not trying to get other work done). Christopher Guerrier had a great idea. Find a favorite toy and begin playing with him. Once he is engaged step away. At first, just move next to him and do your own thing. Read a book, knit something, shop on the internet, do something that doesn't require your full attention. When he starts to get upset, reassure him and help him re-engage with his toy. A baby this young will not have a long attention span so at first, you can only expect a few minutes (although sometimes my kiddos have surprised me by how long that can be focused on something) Over time, lengthen your distance from him and the length of time you take to respond to his cry. Eventually, when he realizes you always come back, he will learn to play by himself.
This is what I would try in this case: play with him with his favourite toy, when he is fully engaged in the play, walk away, basically move away from his play at regular interval, and increasing the time you are not engaged directly with him each time.