I’ve found that one of the largest factors to having a smooth, some-what less chaotic day with my children is sticking to a routine. Please note that I said routine, not schedule. A routine allows us to have some flexibility, without the rigidity of a schedule (more about the sequence of events, opposed to time). For young children, routines are so important to provide structure for our family, predictability and stability, all which are things that allow children to feel safe and secure.
Have you ever had an occasion where your child’s behavior was especially crazy, ornery or difficult? Most of the days in which we have crazy tantrums and chaos, tend to be days where are routine was jumbled for the whole day. When on trips (I refuse to call it a vacation when traveling with young kids), our kids always seem thrown for a loop and have a harder time adjusting and coping through the day.
Below are a few of the most important tenets of routines for children. Keep scrolling down to see our typical daily schedule as well.
Daily routines in which we do similar activities around the same time daily, provide repetition and predictability which in turn allows our children to know what to expect is next. Since children have little control over their day, a routine allows them to have comfort in knowing a sequence of activities that typically occurs and a sense of control.
Routines help embed into children heads certain behaviors and sequences that are so important when it comes to safety. For example, our son knows that when we go for a walk that he must stop at the end of our driveway, hold my hand and we look both ways for cars as we sing Daniel Tiger’s ditty, “stop, look, listen to stay safe.” Due to this, anytime we go anywhere near a road or a sidewalk ends, he automatically does this. These everyday routines help children learn the responsible and proper things to do to ensure their safety. Other examples of this: washing hands before meals & car safety when everyone gets loaded into carseats.
Routines are integral for preventing the power struggle that can come during transitions. When children know that after lunch that it is nap time or that after an episode of their favorite show that it is time to turn off the tv and have breakfast, there is less of a power struggle as the activity is to be expected. Instead of having to boss them around, they know that after certain activities, that you move onto another designated activity.
Kids love being able make their own decisions and complete tasks on their own. Doing so allows them to build confidence and independence. When children know a routine (such as morning routines or bedtime routines) they are able to move through a series of activities to complete a task which gives them a great sense of independence and leads to less opposition and fighting.
When children know routines, particularly for transition periods, there tends to be less rebelling and more cooperation. When children know what to expect there is less disappointment, no surprises and meltdowns as they know what is happening next.
Below is a sample routine of our typical day:
6:00 a.m. Wake up, nurse baby in bed
7:00 a.m. Breakfast
8:00 a.m. Independent play (I catch up on news/emails)
9:00 a.m. Get dressed, do hair and brush teeth
10:00 a.m. Morning snack
10:15 a.m. Read books/listen to music (dance party)/outside play
11:30 a.m. Lunch and cleanup
12:30 p.m. Naptime for baby. Toddler & I do activity together (arts, crafts, game, learning, special treat, etc.)
2:30 p.m. Baby wakes.
2:45 p.m. Afternoon snack
3:00 p.m. Outdoor play/walk
4:15 p.m. Dinner prep and free play
5:00 p.m. Dinner
6:00 p.m. Have a bath or hang out as family
6:45 p.m. Pajamas, story time, lullabies
7:30 p.m. Bedtime
One of the most important routines in our home, is the time that I spend with my son once his baby sister is down for a nap. I always take that time to give him some special one-on-one time that he needs and thrives on so badly. He knows that those few hours are special time just for us and I can see the happiness and bonding that it forms between us. I love the time to pause and really take in his toddler quirks and see just how quickly he is growing and learning.
We always take that time to do a fun activity together (usually a learning activity or game) and end it with a special treat of Teddy Soft Bakes, a tasty, light-textured treats with a yummy filling, that we keep a secret from baby sister.
He loves the super cute bear shaped snacks, but the filling is definitely his favorite, especially the chocolate filling (I love the vanilla filling). I love that Teddy Soft Bakes aren’t filled with a bunch of junk ingredients (no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors). We love playing pretend with the bears as we complete our activity and he loves that this is our special activity and looks forward to devouring these sweet bears together!