It may seem totally opposite of what they want, but toddlers NEED routine. There are many benefits of starting kids off early with learning routines and having schedules in their lives. Today we will take a look into this and see if making a toddler daily routine is best for your little one.
I am at that point with my daughter that I need to get her on a schedule. We didn’t need to so much when she was a little baby because, well, babies don’t do too much more than eat and sleep. But now that she is getting older, I can see how it is affecting her by not having consistency in her day to day activities.
She is turning 2 soon and we have had a lot of changes in the past year, including putting her into daycare two days a week. And unfortunately, that means getting her to daycare at 6 am so mom and dad can get to work on time. I know, brutal. And that throws a wrench into any kind of consistency on the other days when we don’t have to get up so early. So now I am trying to find the balance that works best for all of us so that baby girl can have some structure every day.
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Why do toddlers need schedules?
Toddlers need routines and schedules in place because it gives structure and consistency to their day. This is probably the fastest phase of their life where they are changing so rapidly and they are learning so many things so quickly. Having consistency in their day helps them to know what to expect.
Having a schedule also gives them a sense of security when they know what’s to come, who’s around them and where they are going to be. This helps them to feel safe. When children feel safe and secure it allows them to be themselves. A carefree child, building confidence in the world around them through playing and learning.
I love how this article from education.com explains that because toddlers can’t tell time yet they don’t understand their world by hours and minutes, but by events that happen throughout their day. So, by keeping their daily activities in the same order and creating a routine it helps kids understand what’s going on around them and in turn feel more secure.
Another good point is that routines help children to establish good habits. When they wake up in the morning they know it’s time to brush their teeth. When playtime is over they know it’s time to pick up toys. When bathtime is over, they know it’s getting close to bedtime. You are teaching your children to take care of themselves at an early age, and this sets them up for success later on.
Build a toddler schedule that works for both of you
So let’s look at a simple way to structure your child’s day. We will start with a list. First, think about all the things your child needs to do or the things you want them to do during the day. List all of the things that you do on a daily basis with your child.
- Nap time
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Bath time
- Quiet time before bed
- Outside play
Next, let’s do a little reverse engineering. It’s always easier for me to look at things backward for some reason. Don’t ask me why! Ok, so what time do you need your child to get up in the morning? Next, you can figure in how much sleep your toddler needs and from there, what time your child needs to go to bed.
Depending on how old your child is, you can determine how much sleep they need at night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends:
- 11-14 hours of sleep for 1-2 year olds
- 10-13 hours of sleep for 3-5 year olds
So, here is an example. For a 2-year-old, he would need at least 11 hours of sleep. You can also factor naptime into that time, too. If I wanted him to wake up at 7:00 am, I would put him to bed by 8:00 pm. As you know, it will be different for every child. Just gauge how much sleep your child usually needs and work backward from there to determine bedtime.
Now you can fill in the rest of your schedule for the day with what’s left on your list.
- 8 pm – Bedtime
- 7 pm – get ready for bed, quiet time, storytime
- 5 pm – Dinner
- 2 pm – 5 pm – Playtime
- 12 pm – 2 pm – Naptime
- 11 am – Lunch
- 9 am – 11 am – Outdoor Playtime
- 8 am – Bathtime
- 7 am – Wake up / Breakfast
You need to be a little flexible with your schedule because of course things will come up. Not everything will go according to schedule at all times. Toddlers have a mind of their own and sometimes just aren’t into what you want them to do. So it’s ok to be flexible. The idea is to keep things consistent and in order but not too rigid with your time.
I hope that you have found this post helpful and it has given you some new ideas on structuring your child’s day. Help your child to feel more secure in their world. Build confidence by setting them up for success with daily routines.