HOW TO CREATE A ROUTINE FOR YOUR TODDLER
Routines are so important for toddlers. You will learn what a routine for your toddler consists of, and I’m even going to give you a couple of examples that might work for your family.
During this session of Montessori Mondays with Holly, we talked about how to create a routine for your toddler. Watch the show above and click here to join the Facebook group.
Let’s Talk About Routines!
I want to first start off with this quote
“He (the child) lives in a sort of everlasting present. He does not hurry as we do towards the end of the action, because for him the end of the action is the action itself.”
—E. M. Standing, Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work
I love this because it is so important to remember that the child is always living in the moment. And that truly is something wonderful!
Although we are ruled by the clock and the calendar like the rest of the world, we can still make room for real freedom with a regular routine.
What Exactly Does A Routine Exist Of?
This will obviously look different depending on a number of factors.
- How old is your child?
- What are their interests?
- Do they have siblings in school?
- What cultural aspects will play a part in your routine?
As you begin to establish your natural routines like meal times and sleep times you will be able to easily form a schedule.
Tips To Form A Schedule
When you are using meals and sleep to guide your routines it can be hard to stay consistent with a child under the age of 18 months. This is due to the ever-changing sleep cycles of a baby. At around 18 months your child will likely be down to one nap so your routines can begin to get more predictable.
Now, this also means that if you have an 18-month-old who has just recently gone down to one nap, your schedule may shift a bit as they learn to stay awake longer. For instance, you may need to bring dinner time up to 5 pm for a while because your child may just be too exhausted to eat after 6 pm.
Your routine will be a living document ever-changing to suit your family’s needs. BUT the more stable, the more consistent, the backbones of your routines, the more comfortable your child is going to feel.
Why A Routine Is So Important
I’d like to start with another quote here:
“One of the first essentials for any adult who wishes to help small children is to learn to respect the different rhythm of their lives instead of trying to speed it up, in the vain hope of making it synchronize with ours.”
—E. M. Standing, Maria Montessori, Her Life and Work
I love this quote because it reminds me that children are not on the same rhythm as us. They have no sense of urgency and really isn’t that the way you wish it could be for you too?
When children know the plan, they feel secure and are then free to concentrate. If we provide these predictable routines for them, they become more self-confident and inner-directed. Of course, the schedule remains important throughout the day because they are able to know what is coming next and anticipate it without worry or fear of the unknown.
When children are reluctant, this might be a signal that the routine is not working to meet their needs and should be rethought. A consistent structure provides freedom for children who learn to function independently within the prepared environment.
Above all else try to follow the child’s lead.
Sample Toddler Schedule
Ok so now we have talked about the what and why of routines let’s put some routines together.
- 7:00 Wake Time
- 7:30 Breakfast
- 8:00 Get Dressed/Self Care/Morning Routine
- 8:30 Montessori Work Period (including a snack)
- 10:30 Nature Time
- 11:30 Lunch
- 12:00 Quiet Time
- 12:30 Nap Time
- 2:30 Wake Time/Snack
- 3:00 Out of the House
- 5:00 Independent Play/Dinner Prep
- 6:00 Dinner
- 6:30 Bedtime Routine
- 7:00 Bed Time
How To Make A Montessori Work Period That Suits Your Schedule
First, make a bare-bones routine. So that’s your meal times breakfast lunch and dinner, and then your sleep times as well, wake time, nap times, and bedtime.
Then if your wake time is 7 am and breakfast is 7:30 you are probably going to be ready to start your next activity at 8 or 8:30. During this morning time is when I suggest adding in the Montessori work period. This can be a period of time between 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on your child’s age. The older the child the longer the period.
If you are talking about an 18-month-old, for example, I would be trying for at least a one hour work period if not 2 hours.
Montessori Work Period
A Montessori work period DOES NOT mean:
- Your child is concentrating for 3 straight hours
- The child is working on the same material for 3 straight hours
- The child has to work on shelf work for the entire 3 hours.
- You have to do it every day.
A Montessori work period DOES mean:
- Working on different materials from the shelf
- Working on practical life activities like making a snack for themselves.
- Going outside to focus on the sensitive period for movement
- It can be done every other day, weekdays, or every other weekday, it’s up to you!
So with those do’s and don’ts in mind try to start a Montessori work period that suits your schedule but isn’t limited to shelf work.
If you are including snack time in your Montessori work period you will likely be able to zoom through your morning leading straight into your lunch and nap times. If not add a bit of outdoor time or an outing to fill the morning.
Then you can fill the afternoons with nature time, or perhaps you want to schedule a time for errands. Instead of writing down the exact activity on the schedule, you could simply put “out of the house”. This way if you don’t feel like going anywhere you just need to go to your back yard but if you have a few errands to run you can do that too.
Then that leaves dinner and bedtime.
Having a morning routine and a bedtime routine is going to be what makes or breaks you in the toddler years. Having a set routine at these times of the day is really important to both the adult and the child. By staying consistent you will be able to avoid some of those big power struggle moments like brushing teeth, bath time, etc because your child will know that’s what’s happening next.
Our nighttime routine goes something like this:
So now I encourage you to use the bare bones times you already have and just add in the rest of your routines to your schedule. And voila! You have yourself a toddler routine!
Are you ready to create a routine for your toddler? Tell us about your current routines in the comments!