Our writer shares with PLN how she was able to incorporate simple routines into life with a toddler.
It’s no question that routines bring about a more organized lifestyle. Lack of them brings chaos and parents know kids are all about creating it. It’s no wonder there are so many memes floating around on social media of mom getting stressed out.
While there are no firm rules on what makes for the best routine, I’ve found three elements in ours that seem to work with our toddler son.
- Repetition and predictability
- Fun/pleasant experience
We try to include these in our daily routines such as eating and getting dressed, as well as the bigger weekly routines.
The week is broken up into two routines:
The work week, with daddy heading into the city during the day and the weekend, with a more relaxed wake-up time. We’ve established a morning routine that works well for both. How is this possible you may ask?
Repetition and predictability
Our two-year-old son is an early morning riser (what child isn’t?). During the work days, he wakes up usually at about the same time as my husband does. Although our son is a bit groggy and semi-asleep, he’s not willing to sleep in any longer.
As we head down to get breakfast, we bring him into the living room, lay him on the couch and give him a small bottle of milk. Then mommy makes breakfast.
This has become the routine that works for him and for us. But the key thing is that we do this ALL the time during the work week.
During the weekends, it’s slightly different. He wakes up when he wants to (still too early for mommy and daddy) but we do the same routine, step-by-step. Go downstairs, he relaxes on the couch with a bottle of milk and we make breakfast.
He’s used to a set of steps that are predictable and repeated every day. There are no temper tantrums, making for a much easier process.
Friday Night Grocery Night
Early Friday evening is the best time of the week for a family grocery shop. Stores are pretty quiet on Friday night. It may be because everybody else is dining at restaurants or eating dinner at home.
Not only does this mean taking a temper tantrum-prone toddler to a store is easier, it also means you can get your shopping done without dealing with the weekend crowd.
Our son is used to Friday evening being a happy time. Not only are Daddy and Mommy glad the weekend is here, we all get to do something out of the ordinary. Shopping is an excursion and we make it a special time where he can “help” while in the grocery store.
It’s a fun thing for him to do, as he looks at all the items in the store and gets to “choose” one healthy snack to enjoy for the week.
The best thing is that on Saturday and Sunday I don’t have to worry about going out for groceries. I have a bit more time to relax with the family.
Saturday morning housecleaning
Since groceries are taken care of on Friday night, this opens up Saturday morning to do housecleaning.
Having a messy, disorganized house is stressful. I find myself getting anxious when I see our son’s toys strewn all over the family room, dust and dirt on the floor and dishes in the sink. Perhaps it’s my Polish cleaning gene kicking in when I’m faced with this chaos!
We’ve made Saturday morning the time to put away things and get everything dusted and cleaned.
Our son is used to helping out with chores. He likes to wipe the dust off the furniture, “vacuum” the carpet or put away his toys. If I didn’t let him do it, he would scream. He wants to help out! So for the sake of my sanity, I have him participate in the process.
Not only does this prevent a temper tantrum, but it also helps him learn about chores. It also helps me get a few things done perhaps just a bit faster.
Starting this routine when he was most interested in cleaning means that he’s used to it from an early age. We spend an hour or two doing a quick housecleaning on Saturday mornings, leaving the rest of the day to do other things. I even manage to sometimes sneak in a nap in the afternoon for a mommy win!
With older kids, giving them specific chores that they are responsible for helps speed up the process. They also learn to be accountable. A win-win for any parent!
Sunday Evening Bath
Getting ready for the work week means Sunday night is usually a night of preparation. It’s also one that many like to keep as chaos-free as possible. Monday will be stressful enough!
As with any bedtime routine, we try to keep the evenings quiet and relaxed. However, we make it extra special on Sundays.
Our little guy is used to going “splash splash” in our big soaker tub for just a bit longer than usual on Sunday nights. This lets my husband have some time to prepare his wardrobe and other items for Monday morning. Sometimes we switch kid-watching duties and I quickly change the bed so we can sleep on fresh sheets.
As soon as our son is finished his bath, changed into his diaper and pajamas and is watching a bit of TV, my husband and I take turns with a shower.
It’s a routine that gives us a bit of sanity before the insanity of the work week begins again.
Because Parents Don’t Need The Insanity
These four routines are simple and they work for us. However, they may need to be adapted for your family.
Being a good parent is difficult, but if you can keep life organized to some extent, then you’re doing it right. At the end of the day, if you’re thinking you survived the day without feeling tired, you’re on the right track. Let us know what routines have helped to save your sanity as a parent in the comments!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.