Kids thrive on a routine. While it may be hard to imagine your changeable, restless newborn adapting to a routine as he grows into an older infant and then a toddler, he’ll benefit from a routine in the long run. From napping and eating to more subtle activities like getting dressed and brushing teeth, your child’s routine will make him feel secure and safe. It will also make his life more enjoyable and a lot easier at daycare, which will make your life easier in return.
- “Looking forward” can help with transitions. Does your toddler bristle at the idea of dinnertime? You can coax her to head toward the highchair by reminding her that after dinner, she can expect her usual “fun” activity, whether in your home that is screen time, story time, or bath time. Knowing that something enjoyable comes next can help your child to participate in activities which she finds less enjoyable, but which may be important. At daycare, this might look like more ease with separation at dropoff, or again at pickup.
- Put an end to power struggles. Anyone with a toddler knows the feeling of needing to get somewhere on time, walking out to the car, opening the backdoor, and watching your child become rigid and indignant at the idea of sitting in his car seat. The minutes tick away, and you begin to think about bribery with M&Ms. A child who is accustomed to a routine is less likely to fight these transitions. He knows that once his shoes are on, he goes out to the car and gets in his car seat. He may have an easier time transitioning between activities at daycare, keeping in pace with the rest of his class.
- Building independence. Having a routine allows your child to repeat the same activities at the same times each day, which will enable him to practice certain skills. He may begin to slowly master feeding himself, dressing himself, brushing his teeth, and cleaning up after himself. That sense of independence will make him feel more confident and secure, which makes his experience at daycare easier. When he needs to handle a certain situation on his own, he’ll be better prepared.
Do you and your family have a routine you rely on? How did you develop this routine? Let us know in the comments section!