A schedule for toddlers is important. Toddlers thrive with regularity and routine, and you’ll be surprised in the improvements you see in all areas of your child’s personal life, health, and relations to other people when he is on a good, consistent schedule.
• Improve your child’s health: The consistency of a routine allows your child’s little body to relax and focus on maintenance and growth: no more second guessing when the next snacktime or naptime will appear.
• Improve your child’s mood: A child on a schedule is typically a happier child than one in a home where there is no daily routine. You’ll find tantrums decrease when you put your child on a schedule, and he’ll be more willing to do the things he hates (naptime?) when they become habit, and he knows they are unavoidable parts of the daily schedule that always come at the same time every day.
• Streamline toddler-related tasks: Are there things you need to do that you find yourself putting off? Incorporating them into a schedule will help you get them done quickly when it’s time to do them; and the rest of the time, they won’t be troubling you.
• Give you the break you need: A schedule can also give you a chance to slot out a little time for yourself without worrying about cheating your child out of it. If you’ve created a schedule that gives your child all he needs and, at the same time, slots you for several twenty minute coffee---and-phone (or computer) breaks, you’ll be able to take those breaks with a clear conscious. And if you’re getting the breaks you need, you’ll be a happier parent the rest of the time—a win win situation.
I’ve provided several sample schedules on another page; here, we’ll discus the logistics of implementing your family’s personal schedule and routine.
Your first schedule for toddlers may not be as impressive and life-changing as you hoped it would be. Perhaps you’ll find you made something that is impossible to follow, and that that computer printout or notepaper marked ‘schedule’ on the fridge just adds stress to your life rather than eliminate it.
But don’t give up—this is normal, and it doesn’t mean that a schedule won’t work for your family. All it means is that your schedule — and the way you run your life—need a little tweaking.
When re-evaluating your schedule , consider what times you normally do things in your house. What time is lunch—most of the time? What time do you have dinner, and when does junior go to bed? Does the schedule you made reflect those times, or is it based on an utopian idea of what you’d like your house to be like? When you first implement a schedule it’s best not to make too many changes in the basic order in your house. That comes later; it is fairly easy to change your schedule when you’ve got used to living life by the clock. Right now, your primary goal is ‘codifying’ your regular practices so your child gets consistency.
The next thing to check is whether you’re scheduling large enough time slots for time consuming activities. If you mark down twenty minutes for breakfast but it usually takes you at least forty minutes, you’ll be running behind all day. Block off sufficient times for all your regular activities. You can also schedule some empty twenty minute ‘catch up times’ throughout the day. If you end up not needing them, they can be little smell-the-flowers or collapse-on-the-couch breaks for you and your toddler.
If you’ve taken care of both these issues and you still can’t seem to implement your schedule for toddlers successfully, consider starting with a half-schedule. Or a quarter schedule. Make a schedule for the first four hours of the morning, and work on putting it in practice consistently. When that becomes first nature, extend the schedule to the first eight hours of the day; from that you should be able to move into a full-day schedule with little problem.
Have fun making your schedule for tots and implementing it. Remember, this isn’t about adding more stress to your already-stressed life; it’s about making your life simpler, more relaxed, and giving you and your toddler the opportunity to have more fun.