Inside you’ll find the most important elements to be considered when creating your toddler schedule.
Those first days with baby are so magical…
Baby eats. Baby sleeps. Baby lays there looking all cute and squishy.
And then… they grow into toddlers.
Toddlers who are all over the place. They like to pack things then unpack them. They want to walk and fall and walk and fall and toddle around the house creating a trail of destruction behind them. Toddlers walk, talk, and are Big Balls of Energy. They are amazingly cute and so fun to cuddle and, man oh man, they are a handful.
No longer can you sit your little baby on a blanket while you go about your business. Now… now you got a little mobile human on your hands and the days aren’t quite as predictable. The days start to seem longer and harder to fill. You feel a bit at the mercy of your toddler’s behavior and emotions.
And, if we aren’t careful, we begin to let our little ones start to determine the course of the day. Sometimes this is completely fine. Other times this results in overtired and fussy toddlers who need a little help.
Good thing we’re the moms!
Teach your toddler to follow their routine with printable routine cards.
The Crucial Elements of a Rock-Solid Toddler Schedule
For those knee deep in figuring out a good toddler schedule, take these principles into consideration. A routine is successful if it keeps you and your little ones well fed, well rested, and content. Life with toddlers is unpredictable and this is the biggest reason to have a good routine in place. It helps ground you when the unexpected happens.
And remember… routines should serve us, not be our boss.
Regular Nap Times
Toddlers have high sleep needs. While they will end up dropping the morning nap and having only the afternoon one, it’s important to put your toddler down to sleep whether they “act tired” or not. In fact, it’s a great idea to put all the kids down at the same time. This is a key element to the toddler schedule.
If your toddler has taken a nap most every day of their short lives they won’t fight taking naps. They will simply lay down and go to sleep. Toddlers may stop going to sleep within the first 5 or 10 minutes after they go down, but that’s okay. That isn’t a sign they don’t need a nap. It’s a sign they are curious and are going to play for a bit until they end up going to sleep.
This is a crucial period in which many moms assume their energetic little ones don’t need a nap and this results in hyperactive and fussy overtired toddlers.
Time for Free Play
Many parents have a mommy version of FOMO.
Moms begin to feel a fear their child will miss out on something or not have a good future if they aren’t already Ahead and Prepared for school. And this can start super early. At a young age when a toddler should be playing, exploring, and letting curiosity turn into interest… moms can feel an immense pressure to do learning activities all the time.
The reality is that little ones learn through play and in the toddler years play should be the focus. Research is overwhelming in this regard.
Independent play is a good habit to begin with your little ones. In fact, your child should have independent play times daily. This time is where they learn a teeny bit of independence that allows them to play unhindered without interference. They are not having to fight siblings for toys nor are they being directed by you. They learn cause and effect and develop some problem solving grit.
For little ones, you may have them play in a pack ‘n play or their crib. You’ll give a few toys and then walk away, allowing them to explore. Naturally, you’ll remain where you can see them and hear them, but don’t stand in view. If your toddler sees you standing there they won’t calm down long enough to engage in play. The goal is for them to begin to play on their own without having to be entertained. There’s a big difference between playing and being entertained.
Chore or “Help” Time
Even little toddlers can learn to clan up after themselves and help mommy and daddy. When creating your toddler schedule, think about the little things you do throughout the day without even thinking. The first “chore” I taught my 2 year old was how to straighten the pillows in his crib before he gets out in the morning. He simply picks up the pillow and puts it at the end of the crib. Then he adds a toy or two and, voila! He’s “made his bed.”
Printable chore cards to help your little one learn to contribute.
This age is magical. Children love to be with you and help you do many things. They can learn to put their toys back up. In fact, after independent play you can ask them to put toys back into a basket or toy box. You’d be surprised how easy it is for children to pick up on this habit. In fact, when they are still little they think it’s fun.
Age Appropriate Chores for Toddlers
- Straighten bed or crib
- Put clothes in laundry hamper
- Sweep (or help use dustpan)
- Bring their dishes to the dishwasher or sink
- Fold small towels
- Wipe down table
- Wipe cabinets
- Clean toilet with brush
Time for Books
My first two children would sit through an endless stack of books from a very young age. My third and fourth would not.
Please, whatever you do, do not stop reading because you have active little ones who struggle to sit still. Read anyway. Require them to sit still for a bit and then, if they want to play on the ground quietly while you read, let them. Reading increases vocabulary, promotes literacy, and makes the child’s world richer. It helps the learn to listen, comprehend, and is a special time between child and mom where the rest of the world stands still.
Regular Bed Time with Wind Down Routines
I have heard people say numerous times, “He won’t go to sleep until 9 or later. He just refuses.”
To this I want to humbly encourage you, strong mama, that you are the mother. You choose the bedtime. And when it’s at a proper time that allows for adequate sleep, you AND your little fiery toddler will thank you.
Decide a bedtime based on what works for your family. Most kids up until the age of 6 or 7 go to bed by 7:30 or 8:00 pm. This allows for 10 to 12 hours of nighttime sleep. Younger toddlers can often seem to get more energetic as the evening progresses, but rest assured, this is a sign of over tiredness, not a sign they should stay up later. In fact, if your toddler wakes u at 6:30 p.m., you might be surprised to know they might fall asleep easily at 6:30 p.m.
Regardless of what time you choose, implement a wind down routine to go along with it.
Printable bedtime and wind down routine cards
This might be a bath, a bedtime snack, reading, singing, or cuddle time with mom or dad. Try and find some types of activities that are calm, quiet, and help your toddler’s baby and mind to settle down and prepare to sleep. This is also the age where fear of the dark comes in, so use this 10 second trick so your toddler doesn’t become too scared of the dark. If your toddler is used to going to sleep at the same time each night their bodies will get used to it.
Pretty soon, right around bedtime, they’ll start yawning and rubbing their eyes.
This is the magic of a consistent bedtime.
Time is so precious…
The toddlers years can seem so difficult while we’re in them. We are constantly hyper-vigilant and feel emotionally exhausted by the end of the day. But it does get better.
They grow up and get bigger.
They become more independent and less needy.
And they stop throwing as many tantrums.
So in the meantime, mama, as you are navigating the mines of toddlerhood, take heart.
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
I’ve created a free email series just for you! If you struggle with creating an easy flowing routine or rhythm in your home… this is it. I’ve gathered all my easiest routine hacks into one free series and, best of all, you can get a big sneak peak into our book that has over 25+ routines for babies ages 6 weeks to 5 years. This series will help you:
- find a routine and rhythm for your child
- learn how to juggle multiple routines (for 2 or 3+ kids)
- know what is and isn’t working so you can make one tweak that’ll change your day
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
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