Thursday, October 22, 2020

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The Benefits of Routine for Toddlers


A routine not so much turned upside down

Here, our routine has changed very little since we have been bedridden by a bad virus (thanks-no thanks, the gastro AND the flu!!). So we took the opportunity to rest comfortably and start January in great shape.

But frankly, even if we had been in great shape, we would still have been in great shape because for a little girl of almost two years old and mom, routine is MEGA important. We both have an internal clock programmed at very fixed times for our respective sleeps, what do you want! And beware if we didn't get enough sleep (yes, two hypersensitive people who are very irritable when they don't get enough sleep)!

So, we had planned the coup: few outings for the whole household, short outings between nap time and bedtime. Are we flat? Maybe for the others, but for us, who are quite homebody, we are happy! And that's the important thing, isn't it? To be good with HIS choices, to live your life as you want in order to be good.

Routine without rigidity

Our toddlers need a routine to feel safe, to be able to anticipate what's coming, and therefore, to have reassuring predictability in their lives. But beware: routine doesn't mean rigidity! Because if there is one great quality of a parent, it's the ability to adapt and be flexible (and I'm not talking about the split here). 

It's better to plan a routine and think about the sequence of steps to be taken than to look at the time to make sure you stick to the schedule. Let me explain.

It's the weekend, we're with our toddler. We know that the day is likely to go as follows: 

  • Get up
  • Quiet games in the living room
  • Television program
  • Lunch
  • Clothing
  • Hygiene routine in the bathroom
  • Free play 
  • Outdoor exit
  • Snack
  • Free play 
  • Dinner 
  • Siesta 
  • Snack
  • Free play
  • Dinner 
  • Bath
  • Quiet games
  • History

Sleep for the night

We therefore know the sequence without necessarily being rigid about the time at which this or that activity should take place. We also allow ourselves freedom in the games (for children who attend a daycare center, they have a fixed routine, directed activities, so why not offer them a relaxing weekend by giving free rein to their imagination in fun and creative free play). We know the approximate time when our child is tired and ready for a nap without stress by looking at the microwave clock if they are "15 minutes past their usual time". 


Life being what it is, the unexpected is often present. Our children also learn to deal with them. These unexpected events can be unsettling and even frustrating for our toddlers as well as for us. We can call it "Hey, no, that wasn't part of the plan. I know you're disappointed/unhappy/angry; I understand. This validates their emotions by helping them identify them, express them and then give them the right to feel them without judgment or guilt. Then, we can include them in a search for solutions, either by finding positive points to the unexpected or by making the unexpected more pleasant. 

The activities conducted

If you have a scheduled activity such as skiing, swimming or gymnastics, don't panic! We try to plan the routine to leave time for the unexpected, for our child's desire to get dressed alone (even if it's longer, it allows him to exercise his motor skills, to practice and to develop his autonomy and pride). What if we arrive just in time or late? Well, that's part of life too! There's no need to fall on the sword; we just try to organize ourselves differently next time, that's all. 

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