How to Structure Your Day with Your Toddler and Keep Your Sanity
Are you drowning in the sea of Caillou and Dora? Do you go through your day feeling unproductive and guilty? Been there, done that! Get out of the mommy fog and feel good about how you spend your days with your toddler.
Staying home with your toddler is not an easy feat. Most of us are expected to keep a clean house, do laundry and create a scrumptious meal that meets the requirements of every picky mouth.
All the while having a needy, demanding toddler interrupting everything and anything we attempt to do. For some of us you can add a sprinkle of a career or part-time job in the mix because you know, we have so much extra time.
So how do you survive this craziness and feel good about it? How do you create a productive day with your toddler?
Make a simple schedule
As moms, we are all over the place with schedules. Some of us have no organization to our day, while others have every minute detail planned. Do what’s right for you, that’s key.
In general having a loose schedule for the day helps you and your toddler keep your sanity. Toddlers flourish in routine. They love structure and predictability. With that being said, too much structure can hinder their independence and their need for self-discovery. Ugghh can this parenting thing get any more confusing!
A loose schedule with your toddler can look something like this:
Mom and toddler play time
Nap (if you are one of the lucky ones)
Your schedule doesn’t have to look like this, but the key is to just keep it simple. Toddlers don’t have a concept of time, just an understanding of sequential ordering. So focus on the order, not the time you do activities. You want a schedule that can be flexible, so that when life happens, your schedule can adapt with it.
Schedule special time with your toddler
You don’t have to play with your toddler every minute of the day. In fact, it is helpful if you don’t. Yes, you want to soak up your time with your little cutie patooties, but you also don’t want to micromanage their time and activities. Letting them learn how to entertain themselves and do activities independently will help them thrive and develop their creativity.
Having said that – (yes, here I go contradicting myself again) you want to carve out some special time to bond with your toddler and give them your full attention. How many of us rush through the day getting things done and then go to bed feeling guilty? I know that feeling!
Schedule a time during your day that you put everything aside and focus on your toddler. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate activity or for a huge chunk of time. Just a moment of time carved out of your day that is just for you to be with your toddler without distractions.
Set up activities for independent play
Some toddlers are great at entertaining themselves, but most are not. You can help with this by setting up structured activities and then let them play independently. You will find that when you get them jump started by setting up activities, they will play much longer.
If you want to be crazy-organized, make bins with activities already set up in them. You can then just grab a bin, set it up and let your toddler play. When they are done. Help them put everything back in the bin and grab a new bin from the shelf.
As your kids get older, they will grab their own bins from the shelf and will be self-entertained for longer stretches of time.
This also helps them prepare for pre-school and kindergarten where independent work and clean-up will be expected.
Have easily accessible crafts at your disposal and if you are daring, within your toddler’s reach. I have an arts and crafts organizer cart where I keep craft projects within my child’s reach. You can look at Pinterest for brainless arts and crafts projects (my favorite type). If you are coming up empty, check out my Pinterest board on Kids Crafts. Whenever I see a simple craft project, I pin it there.
Get things done with a junior helper
Do you constantly feel like you are being pulled in two different directions? You feel flooded with guilt when you clean your house because you aren’t focusing on your toddler. But, you feel equally as guilty when you play with your toddler because you aren’t focusing on the heap of mess that is your house. Life is so unfair.
Have no fear, help is here. Well, sort of. Get your little one to “help” you. I know, this is going to drag out the process, but you’ll eventually get it done and the bonus – you’ll feel guilt-free.
Give your helper a small task to keep them busy. They will feel important, helpful and valued. You will also be teaching them life skills with “on the job” training.
It does get better, I promise!
Parenting a toddler will be one of the most exhausting stages in your parenting. Hang in there and give yourself a break. Every day is not going to be magical. You will not feel like mother of the year all of the time – not even most of the time. The truth is none of us do and yet we are all doing a pretty awesome job.
How do you organize your day with your toddler? Do you have some tips that work for you? Share in the comments below.
Do you know someone who is in the throes of raising a toddler? Share this article with them!
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