If you know me you know I love routines. I love my morning routine, my night routine, even my cleaning routine. 😉 Routines help simplify daily tasks and I am all about making life easier. It should come as no surprise then that I’ve created several routines for my daughter too. Today I’ll be sharing my favorite daily routines for toddlers that make life easier for the parent AND that your toddler will love.
Daily Routines for Toddlers
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But first, does your kid need a routine? They don’t need them in the same way that they need food and water, but they can definitely play a role in giving them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline. Or as Aha, Parenting says, “Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively manage themselves and their environments.”
The post goes on to say, “A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, and to develop a sense of mastery in handling their lives. As this sense of mastery is strengthened, they can tackle larger changes: walking to school by themselves, paying for a purchase at the store, going to sleepaway camp.”
No matter our different parenting goals (and there are many!) I think most can agree they want to teach their children independence and confidence to live life. Routines can play a major role in helping us help our kids get there.
Reason #1: Toddler routines help my toddler sleep better.
Below I’ll dive a little deeper into the different kinds of routines I use in my toddler’s day. But I know having a day of known expectations and routines helps her sleep better. Every night she knows we eat dinner, take a bath, spend a little time with mommy and daddy, and then go to bed.
There might be a little whimpering when we first tell her it’s time for bed but there are no tantrums and she usually goes right to sleep.
Now, maybe we got an easy child. We only have one and I am by no means a parenting expert. But I know this has worked for us with this child.
I’m personally a big fan of sleep training. There are a lot of good resources out there but I’ll share what our pediatrician told us when our daughter was around 8 months old. “You put her in the crib, say I love you and goodnight, and shut the door and LEAVE.” That’s it.
Reason #2: Toddler routines help reduce power struggles.
Again, this is my experience and I understand you have a different situation and a different child. I can only share what’s worked for us. But having our daughter know what to expect in the morning, at naptime, and at bedtime has reduced a lot of power struggles and a lot of tantrums. (That’s not to say she doesn’t still throw tantrums because she most certainly does!) But it’s also certainly helped reduce them in other others.
As I said, my daughter might whimper for a few seconds when we tell her it’s naptime or bedtime. But she also gets over it in a few seconds because she knows we’re not going to give in. Every day/night of every day of her life we take her to bed at a certain time and she has accepted that. I’ll even go as far as to say she’s embraced it!
Now, this post is about routines but I’ll briefly chat about discipline. We’re currently in the middle of trying to figure out what works and two of my favorite books that have helped tremendously are “Making the Terrible Twos Terrific” and “1-2-3 Magic.”
Both of them emphasize being calm, in control, and consistent.
I have a lonnnnnng way to go in parenting but I am learning that a lot of times putting in the hard work upfront can pay dividends in life later.
Reason #3: Toddler routines help me “schedule” quality time with my daughter.
It might sound bad that I have to schedule quality time with my daughter but it can be easy to go through our to-do list, errands, and chores and realize we’ve ignored our kids or told them to go entertain themselves all day. And while kids learning to entertain themselves is great (!!) it’s also important to connect with them each day too.
I got this tip from John Rosemond who wrote the Terrible Twos book I mentioned before. He says to set an alarm for 30 minutes once in the morning, and once in the afternoon, and give your full attention to your child.
I’ve been trying to be better about this and it makes such a difference in my daughter’s day. I put away my phone and other distractions and just focus on what she wants to do. I’ve noticed such a difference in getting on her level, looking her in the eye, and letting her know I’m here for her. She stops acting up to get my attention and basks in the attention.
Also, once the 30 minutes is up she is usually all too happy to play by herself.
Daily Routines for Toddlers: A Look At Our Day
I’ll probably break these down into more detail in separate posts, but here’s a quick look at a few of the daily routines my toddler follows.
Morning Routine for Toddlers
- Wake up and get dressed
- Brush teeth
- 30 minutes with mommy
Afternoon Routine for Toddlers
- Clean up toys
- Eat lunch
- Read a story
Night Routine for Toddlers
- Time with mommy and daddy
- say our prayers
- sing “Jesus Loves me”
- Go to sleep!
While all these routines may seem rigid, I’ll throw in that I try to change it up once or twice a week. Obviously, this last year has been more difficult, but if the weather is warm enough we’ll go for a walk every day or to the playground. I also love to take her on short day trips to a local farm, other playgrounds, a garden, or a playdate.
And for my working moms, here is a look at the day in the life of a work-at-home mom when I was working full time too.
Do you follow any specific daily routines for toddlers? I’d love to hear about them!
Additionally, if you’re ready to use play as a way to help your kids develop physically, emotionally, and socially check out one of my favorite courses called Purposeful Playspace.
It will help you create a designated space where your kids will want to play without you with fewer toys but organized in a simple, way that promotes fun learning and development for your kiddos.
Toddlers, when irritable are little tyrants, so I definitely recommend a good, steady routine.
I wish we had done a better job of establishing a routine when my 4 year old was a toddler. We are working towards this now though! Great tips!
thanks for sharing such a helpful post. i have a toddler and i must say so far i am doing a good job but i need to consider some of the things you mentioned because sometimes i dont stick to the routine i really did not know about all these benefits
Amber Myers says
I tried to stick to routines when my kids were toddlers but I was never anal about it. We followed it for the most part, but there were some days where the routine was changed. But I would let them know beforehand so it went okay.
Routines are so important when they are young. It keeps you sane and also helps them learn about structure.
Nicole Kauffman says
Love this! Our little guy is turning one this week and so I’m going to need to start being more intentional. Love the timer idea! Going to try that today 🙂
This is such a useful post, I have no kids but I believe that a daily routine is very important and not only for kids x
Yes! I couldn’t agree more! I especially love how the routines give more free, intentional time later.
I never understood the importance of routines until I had kids. My kids are 6 and 8 and routines are still just as important! I’m convinced routines still help my kids sleep well at night. Thanks for this!
Natalie Holland says
This honestly goes for kids of all ages, like during quarantine last year when I had all the kids here. Having a routine just made life easier and a little less stressful. Also it’s good to have them trained, so when they get older they will be prepared for the real world.