[Toddler Schedules: Examples and Tips from my very limited experience.]
Toddlers are in a funny but often frustrating stage. While they are learning like crazy, they have an attention span the size of their pinkie finger.
If I had to guess, we make it harder than it is. I always want my son to be listening to Pavarotti or learning Farsi, but he only wants to eat dirt and kiss the dog. What's a mom to do?
We moms know if a toddler isn't entertained or engaged, they will find something to engage with. Don't we know? The curiosity makes for an excellent student, if you can make the most of it.
Here are a couple pieces of advice I need to give myself about toddler parenting:
1. Schedules are good. Our brains naturally run according to rhythms. We set our kids up for success - as in, good moods and better behavior - when they know what to predict. Spontaneity is great, but your whole life shouldn't be a guessing game.
2. Like your child and have fun with him. If you are always putting out fires and find that you don't really like your child most of the time, your relationship will be adversarial and you won't build the trust you need to keep your toddler listening to you as he grows. Play is the primary communication kids have with the world. Stop your working, get on the carpet and have a tickle fight, play trains or dolls and let your inner kid out for a bit.
3. Plan ahead. It's related to schedules, I guess, but it's good to take time early each week to think about what you want to accomplish and how you want to do it. If you want to develop your child's artistic skills, work on the alphabet or counting, you will need planned activities. And you won't do them if it's a last-minute idea. Planning ahead also goes for trips to the store or any venture out of the house. I forgot snacks at Target once, right around dinner, and you can believe I will never do that again.
4. Make getting out of the house or play dates a regular thing. Sometimes kids get cooped up or isolated and then they get bored more easily, or simply can run out all the energy they have. Going to the mall, the park or even the store feel like a nice change from the ordinary for him. I also feel like my son does better when he is with other kids his age, rather than just at home with the parents. He learns basic social skills, problem-solving and sharing, and his communication improves.
5.Be nice to yourself. I have totally unrealistic expectations for my son and me most days. I am far too influenced by what I see on the Internet, and I'm not even on Pinterest. I am not a super cute crafty mom, and I know it looks like there are hundreds of them out there, but there are probably only three, posing as different women with different names and families. And they are making a killing. Nevermind that. I value my sanity. If we do one cool craft project a week, that is awesome!.
Below are a few toddler schedules I find helpful. You can take what works for you and mix and match based on your own family and lifestyle. As you can see, one of the schedules are from a childcare center, while the others are personal schedules created by parents. Our schedule is still in creation mode, and it will get re-worked again when my work schedule changes in the new year. My husband stays home with our son so a lot of their activities depend on Josh's pastoral commitments. (But if we're going to raise a pastor's kid, I love that he gets to grow up with Daddy.)
Anyway, as I said, planning is a must. Unless I have my activities lined up in advance, I can almost guarantee we will be watching Netflix half the day, with me scratching my head for ideas and wishing for nap time to get here already.
Great places for activities:
The Nurture Store - sign up for the weekly play planner via and get an activity planner each week
Hands On As We Grow - 50 activities for toddlers
Schedule Away. [Each image is linked to its origin.]