A routine is a crucial part of the day for a growing child, whether at home or school. Routines can be grouped into three main categories: everyday activities (meal times, coming and going, sleeping), regular events (family outings), and personal care routines. The latter is necessary for children that are young because they can't take care of themselves just yet. These activities include cleaning, eating, and changing diapers.
When you have a toddler, routines are just as important. Here are 10 tips so you can set up a daily routine for your little one.
10 Establish a wake-up time
What time a child wakes up will vary. Some might wake up as early as 6:30 or 6:45, whereas others might wake up much later than that. It's a good idea to let toddlers wake up on their own unless there are plans for the day. Not only do toddlers need sleep, but this will give you time to either sleep in yourself or do other things on your own.
Set aside about half an hour to dress your toddler and get them to brush their teeth. Don’t forget to include time for them to wash their face and go to the bathroom.
9 Take a Seat and Have Breakfast
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. In order to cope with the day ahead, both you and the toddler need to eat. As much as you can, try to sit at the table and eat as a family to give the child a sense of family togetherness.
If eating together as a family is complicated, try planning ahead. The whole family can wake up early, do their individual preparations and manage to sit together at the table for breakfast. This simple activity will make sure that the toddler doesn’t feel rushed and stressed, and they will have enough of an appetite for a delicious breakfast.
8 Minimize Shake-Ups
In cases of emergency or vacation, a toddler can learn to be flexible and adapt, but try as much as possible to maintain normalcy. When away from home, the regular schedule should remain the same regardless of the change of scene. Don't skip nap times and wake times and bedtime routines if at all possible.
Take along a few familiar objects like pillows, blankets, and toys. Keep everything basic and calm, while always trying to reassure the toddler that everything will be fine to keep them comforted. After coming back home and as things return to normal, comment on the child’s good behavior to promote positive reinforcement.
7 Create a Late Morning Routine
A bright sunny day presents you with a lot of fun opportunities. Outdoor activities are wonderful for you and your toddler. Using your backyard or available playground, hide and seek can be one of the best ways to let loose and have fun, tossing a ball or water play if the weather is hot. The same game can also be played indoors.
Board games like Monopoly, card games like Uno, finger painting and drawing can be done indoors to keep the toddler relaxed as they learn to pace themselves. These indoor games are good during rainy weather and help keep their minds occupied.
6 Lunchtime and Nap
Stick to a specific lunchtime, which could be at 12 p.m. Before lunch, ensure that the toddler washes up first. Feeding schedules create nap patterns so ensure that food is ready on time so that things can always fall into place and in no time, the naps will become a straightforward, automatic occurrence.
Napping is very important to a toddler and to you the parent as well. During this time, the child recharges and reboots since they need a lot of calories and sleep to grow and in turn, they give the parent a chance to get one or two things done.
5 Have a Late Afternoon Routine and Snack
After the nap, make sure that you have some activities planned for your toddler. Try outdoor activities so that the child can burn energy in preparation for dinner, plus a blast of sunshine combined with a bit of breeze will jump-start their mood. Once they’ve been playing for an hour or two, have them take a break for a quick snack of fruit, cheese, crackers, juice or milk.
Some activities a toddler can be interested in includes making giant bubbles, creating an obstacle course, and growing a mini garden. This will mentally stimulate the child and teach them about the world around them. In addition, growing a plant will give the toddler a huge sense of accomplishment.
4 Have a Before and During Dinner Plan
Your toddler should be ready at least 30 minutes before dinner time. Try and have a strict routine for washing hands and changing out of dirty clothes. This will program the child to know what is expected of them before sitting at the dinner table.
Having a schedule for meals helps the toddler learn healthy eating habits like knowing when they are full. This ensures that they will be hungry but not too hungry during the next meal. Eating as a family gives the child a sense of belonging and helps reduce tantrums, making life easier for you as the parent.
3 Have a Before Bedtime Routine
Getting your toddler to bed can be challenging but with a strictly followed schedule, this is possible. Helping the kid relax and wind down will reduce the chances of hostility before sleep. It's best to keep rambunctious playtime to a bare minimum to allow the child to relax. The last thing you want is for them to be wound up and hyper right before it's time to go to bed. Then you can move on to warm relaxing bath time which can be done before bedtime.
Next, read some relaxing storybooks. Get comfortable and let the book spark conversation between your toddler and you. Singing lullabies is also a great thing to do now, and soothing music can also help.
2 Review the Schedule and Create a Poster
The creation of a routine doesn't mean forcing the toddler into a schedule. Knowing what to expect allows toddlers to relax in the moment because they have a good idea of what will be happening later in the day.
For your toddler to have a sense of routine, you can create a chart. It's easy to have a board with pictures of him/her doing their daily activities. Mastering the routine will teach the child responsibility, which means they will be focused on making the most out of a day other than nagging. This becomes a great foundation for the child even before they join preschool.
1 Adjust the Schedule Over Time
Changes will eventually be needed. Your child may be ready to go to preschool and that will require having a much more structured wake-up time and morning schedule. Focus on a specific area of the routine that needs work, like sleep, and the rest will fall into place.
Also, adjust bedtime. As the toddler grows older, sleep patterns might change, so adjust your routine accordingly. Your focus should be on naps. Lastly, be patient as some toddlers can be quite resistant to change and it will take a bit of time for everyone to adjust.