The Importance of Toddler Routines
by Rachel Paxton
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Routines are very important for toddlers. Routines give
structure to their day and help to reduce temper tantrums and
crankiness that result from irregular sleeping and eating
Daily routines are great for moms too, whether you stay at home
or you work outside of the home.
The effectiveness of a daily routine isn't so much what time you
do something, but that you do something at the same time every
day. Setting a time that works for your family allows
flexibility for individual family schedules and needs.
Getting enough sleep is very important for young children. Many
toddlers need up to 12 hours of sleep at night and at least a 2
hour nap every afternoon. The times that your toddlers sleep
will be partly dependent on your family's schedule. Our boys are
in bed by 7 p.m. every night, but that time wouldn't work as well
for parents who don't get home until later in the evening. Just
make sure your children have a regular bed time and a regular nap
time. Their bodies adjust to these times and they anticipate
those times to sleep every day, even if they don't act like they
want to go to sleep. Lack of sleep makes them very cranky and
A regular eating schedule is also very important for toddlers.
You know what I mean if you've ever been away from home at lunch
time! Children's bodies also become accustomed to eating at
certain times, even if we as parents don't always have our own
eating schedules. Your toddler's mood will also improve if he or
she eats at regular times. Don't forget to schedule times for
snacks also. If you let them snack too much during the day they
won't want to eat at meal time.
Whatever else you want to schedule into your toddler's day is up
to you. I take my boys for a walk every morning, and they really
look forward to this time every day. It is good exercise for me
and they enjoy the fresh air.
Nighttime routines are also important for children of any age.
Toddlers transition to bedtime much more easily when they know
what to expect every night. A common bedtime routine is a bath
and reading a story before bed. It is also a good time to
occasionally sit down and watch one of your toddler's favorite
videos with them.
I have found that having a basic schedule for the entire day
makes my day go by more smoothly and I don't have to think much
about what I'm doing to do during the day. That's really nice
when you're chasing more than one toddler around the house.
Regardless of how much time you spend at home with your children
during the day, anyone can benefit from scheduling family
activities. It also helps you to not forget to get anything
Here is my toddlers' daily schedule:
7:00 a.m. - wake up
7:30 a.m. - get up, get dressed, have breakfast
8:30 a.m. - go for a walk
9:00 a.m. - play
10:00 a.m. - morning snack
12:00 p.m. - lunch
1:00 p.m. - afternoon nap
3:30 p.m. - afternoon snack
5:00 p.m. - dinner
6:30 p.m. - bath, stories
7:00 p.m. - bed
I do most of my housework or grocery shopping in the evenings
after the boys are in bed. During play times is when we
occasionally go to the park or have grandma or grandpa come over
to visit. There is just enough flexibility, while the boys also
know what to expect every day.
If you don't already have your toddlers into a daily routine,
start slow. Regular eating times are the easiest for them to
adjust to, new sleeping times may be harder. If you are changing
your child's sleeping schedule vary their sleeping time by 10
minutes a day until they are sleeping at the desired time. Make
sure your child is getting up at the same time every morning.
This will help them adjust to set nap and bed times.
Good luck! Setting a daily routine for you and your toddler just
might save your sanity!
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of
What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick
easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, organizing tips, home
decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative
Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com.
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Rachel, this is a great article. I provide daycare for my grandchild and she has begun to have toddler tantrums. Your article is a good reminder to keep things on schedule and stick to a routine. Thanks a lot for your help.