Toddler Routines

Toddler Routines - tips and advice for establishing an evening routine with your toddler.

When your children are very young there is a period at the end of the day when time crunches become very real as you try to bath a toddler and baby, prepare dinner, feed tiny tots and get the home looking reasonably presentable before hubby gets in.

When my first child was about 2 years old and my newborn was well, new...I had a neighbour who called this time “suicide hour”. But it need not be like that! I would like to offer moms some tips to help you get through this busy time of the day and still feel sane on the other side...and you may even be able to do it with a smile on your face. Having toddler routines will go a long way in helping you achieve this goal.

I believe in long quiet days at home as far as possible but I do acknowledge that we have a certain amount of things that we need to do each week to ensure we have food in the house, exercise and maybe a get together with moms and their toddlers for a bit of socialization.

The Importance of Toddler Routines

These out times should be planned for the morning if your toddler sleeps after lunch or early afternoon if they are on one sleep over lunch. This means that by 3.30 or 4 pm you are at home and not rushing home to throw supper together and go through your evening routine.

When cooking your evening meal you can start to set your toddler routines up with a dinner time activity basket. You can choose from these activities to add to your basket which are on my fine motor skills page. This basket only comes out at dinner preparation time which means the activities do not get old. You can also add new activities intermittently for a bit of variety.

Another thing that is great when you need to prepare dinner is to have story tapes with follow along books for your child to listen too as part of your toddler routines list.

Knowing what you are going to have for dinner is a great help! Even more important is having the ingredients in your pantry. If you need help planning your meals be sure to visit my organized mom pages where I discuss this in depth. I also recommend making a menu list which is a fabulous way to take the stress out of meal planning and shopping.

If you have a baby, buying a bouncing chair is a worthwhile investment. I used to put baby on the counter next to where I was preparing the meal and hung a mobile above their head to look at or bash. We were also eye level and I could “chat” with my little one as I cooked. More baby activities can be found here.

We also liked to add in a walk on fine evenings while something was cooking in the oven. I strapped baby to my chest, put the toddler in the pram and headed out. This practice we continued through each subsequent addition to the family and at one stage I had one preschooler on a bike, two toddlers in the pram and one baby in a pouch. We still walk almost every fine day with the dogs and kids on their bikes. These toddler routines has stuck with us for so long now and is still an enjoyable time of the day for us.

Bath time can happen as soon as you have the bulk of your meal prepared or once you have returned from your walk. I always bathed my young children together but NEVER left them unattended while in the bath.

By the time bath time is over your dinner should be ready. Whether you wait for daddy to come home or not is entirely up to you. But we enjoyed eating together and as we waited for daddy we would do a pick up of the house.

I am sure you will agree that not all things written work out in practice, but by keeping your later parts of the afternoon quiet and at home, you will be bringing a peaceful end to your day with busy little ones.

Building Relationship

When our children are young a lots of time is spent training and disciplining them to respect our authority as their parents. It is a time of setting boundaries, teaching obedience and establishing  toddler routines. These times do seem to take up the most part of the day and is important in training your child’s character.

But there are other times that are equally important which is when you can proactively sow good “seed” into your toddler and preschoolers hearts. Reading time is a wonderful way to talk about characters. When our children were young we had a weekly visit to the library for books. We would devour them over and over again until the next visit.

Other ways to be proactive with building your children’s character is through Bible stories. On my website I have a large selection of Bible crafts all designed around you and your toddler at home.

And the other way to grow your child’s awareness of others is through service to others. Taking a neighbour some flowers, baking cookies for a friend, taking a meal to a mother with a newborn, all of these encourage your young child to think beyond themselves.

Parenting Tip

There is an old saying “Do what I say, not what I do.” I am not sure who came up with that, but it really could not be further from the truth when it comes to raising children.

In moments, like dinner preparation time, bath time or an intense child training time, a mom’s attitude speaks louder than her words. All the time we are busy living our lives we have a few pairs of young eyes watching us. They learn how to react through our reactions. They learn to speak because of the way we speak. They adopt certain attitudes through those they see played out before them at home.

Is this a big heavy on your shoulders? Yes, it certainly is a huge responsibility for us to watch our reactions, attitudes and speech. Often moms struggle with anger and frustration when they see their toddler heading into a tantrum, disobeying or pushing their boundaries. It is important to rather see these moments as opportunities to come alongside your little ones and show them the correct way to behave.

Easier said than done? Yes! How does a mom manage? The same way, as the saying goes. Q How would you eat an elephant? A One piece at a time. Slow down you are doing great.

And as you go about your day – in crunch times and in fun times – be aware of your actions and speech. Let your children see you make the right choices, explain to your older toddler about choosing to do the right thing and encourage them to do likewise.

Bible link

Very often when we are moms of little ones our lives revolve around a few simple things: cleaning, cooking, changing nappies, dealing with tantrums, food shopping and sleep. Just as we have dealt with one of these things we need to start the next. In the years when my children were toddlers I often used to read Proverbs 31:10 – 31. I used to look at her lifestyle and think that it was something to aspire too. She got up early, worked at night, prepared food for her family, was frugally minded, had a small business etc. She certainly is an example for us as woman.

BUT as I matured as a Christian woman I began to see that many of these things were an outworking of my relationship with Jesus. As He equipped me in the season of my life (young mom – mom of preschoolers – home school mom) there were different areas that He released me to work in. Be sure that you live within the season that you are in. A friend of mine is a lawyer but has her second baby on the way after a very short interval from her first child. Everyday she reminds herself that she can only do what she can do. For the most part she says no to a lot of activities and work offers as she knows she is choosing to live a quiet life alongside her toddler.

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