Tips, Simple Schedule & More: How to Structure Your Toddlers Day:
Being a first time parent can be really hard. There is no manual available to teach us how to do things – we have to figure it out as we go. We’re always told a million and one different things that need to be done with our children and when to do them. It can be really frustrating sifting through it all when you’re trying to get on your own feet and figure out your own way of doing things. So I’m sure you’ve heard, been told or read somewhere that having a routine is a must.
If you’re like me you’re a free spirit and don’t like mundane and repetitive tasks. I quickly realized that as a parent, the structure of a routine (even small ones) helped me on a day-to-day basis and ultimately helped us get through the day more efficiently.
So what exactly is a routine? A routine is a sequence of actions followed on a regular basis. Routines help children put behaviors into an order that they can understand and complete confidently. They help set borders and strategies while teaching great habits. It’s important to realize routines definitely help kids become comfortable and secure with the predictability.
Now even thought I’m a free spirit, I definitely took this advice. I eventually decided to make my own routine schedule for Dee. I searched the web to find some examples on how to make one, but what I found was too structured for me. I wanted something that was structured but gave me the opportunity to be creative and play around with it. I came up with a really simple schedule that worked for us. This is key: IT WORKED FOR US! This schedule may not work for you and that’s fine. The point is to think about what you want to achieve and how to best to get there.
Here is the ACTUAL toddler schedule I used with my Dee. I made it using Microsoft Word but you can really use anything that suits you – even your phone. It’s quite straightforward & splits up the day into 3 sections. I did it this way so if we ever had a super late night or an appointment or outing we could get right back on track with the next section.
YES you see 3 tiny ladies kicking their legs up high in excitement that the baby is asleep. I printed this very schedule and put one copy downstairs and another copy upstairs.
As you can see it’s quite an open schedule and not too rigid. I also put it up on the wall for continuity so my husband could follow it. I wanted something to help us structure our day, while leaving room for flexibility and change. And let’s be clear…Did I use this schedule every single day? Uhhhh NO! Don’t pressure yourself to be perfect and do the same thing every day – all the time. That’s just not realistic. Just do your best!
What I will say is that it really did help us have a routine that spaced out the day so we weren’t watching tv all day. That was probably my main goal when I made this, as I felt that I was so tired and watching tv a lot more than I wanted to.
Some Useful Tips to Help You Execute Your Schedule
- Music: One the best gems I found was called PUTUMAYO WORLD MUSIC. I first heard of this group many years ago because I wanted to buy some different music for myself and ended up buying a cd. They’re a record label that specializes in composing music from different countries and areas from all around the world. And even better they now have a Putumayo Kids. I wanted my daughter to hear different languages, rhythms, instruments and sounds and this was the best way for me to do it. We played Putumayo songs daily – some for longer periods than others. I’m also sure you may have heard that classical Baroque music is very good as well. I also played Baroque music occasionally but if I’m being honest it didn’t last very long, lol. My husband and I obviously play LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF AFROBEATS, HIGHLIFE AND HIPLIFE and we listen to Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae, Soca, Jazz & even Gospel (Note: I choose to listen to radio edits with no swearing). Studies show that music can benefit brain function, memory, encourages creativity and self-expression. Any kind of music is great for babies and children, so be creative and try different types. You never know you may find a new type of music that you really enjoy as well.
- Reading: So our local library did rhyme time once a week, so we went weekly. Dee loved it because of the nursery rhymes and the fact that she could socialize with other children. After it was over, we would always get a few books to take home with us. I tried to make a point of reading to her every single day when she was small, even if I was repeating the same book. There are so many benefits to reading to young children. Check out my printable HERE and see some of these many benefits.
- Art: There are sooooo many things you can do that can take up time both indoors and outdoors. You can also do themed art days, which can be a lot of fun. Is there a special occasion coming up like a Birthday, Father’s day, Christmas? We sometimes used this opportunity to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Homemade cards are the best and will always add that special touch. Also, painting, colouring and play dough were some of our regular favourites. With babies and toddlers edible things like paint or play dough are great ideas. I have used a great edible play dough recipe and you can find it HERE on my blog.
- Outings: Things can get really costly when you have babies and toddlers. So it’s a great idea to find FREE, FREE AND MORE FREE things to do.
Here are a few things & places we went to that were Free & Fun (depending on where you live some things on this list may not apply to you & may or may not be free).
- Baby Massage
- Splash Pads/Wading Pools
- Malls (This one is more for mommies lol)
- Local Children Community Groups/Centres
- Playdates with other mommies
- Long walks
- Church groups/activities
- Nature Reserves
- Flower Garden
- Art Gallery
- Soft Play areas – usually free for under 1s (generally not free for over 1s but if you go during off peak times during the day it will be much cheaper)
In conclusion, keep trying different things until you’re comfortable with the routine you have. Again don’t be too hard on yourself and try and enjoy the process because it’s ultimately meant to help you and your child get the most out of the day while staying active, spending quality time together and building a strong foundation. You’ll feel such a sense of accomplishment when you look back at everything you’ve done.[Uneeq Question: What does or did your toddler schedule look like? What was Uneeq about it? Ours was definitely playing lovely songs from Putumayo World Music & Putumayo Kids.]