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Need For Routine


Written By Gracie Revland
May 26, 2021

There is a huge misconception that having a routine for your child means that you need to be stuck at home, following it religiously.

toddler and teddy bears

Don’t feel scared of routine, no matter what kind of parent you are.

I often hear parents describe themselves as a “go with the flow parent” or “not organized enough” when the word routine starts being thrown around. There is a huge misconception that having a routine for your child means that you need to be stuck at home, following it religiously. Believe it or not, it is totally possible to be a “go with the flow” parent and still provide the security of a routine (cough, cough, looking at you Sammy haha)!

toddler brushing teeth

Why children need routine.

Routine provides children with a sense of security needed for their huge emotions, especially when making daily transitions. Think of when quarantine started due to Covid. Adults everywhere freaked out because their everyday world changed. Emotions were high, and the normal world that gave us security changed. See even as adults we strive for that security of routine, we are just capable of dealing with it on a much larger scale. So when your child (especially if they have no sense of time yet) gets a curve thrown in their day, that same feeling of panic throws a wrench in their big emotions.

So if you are stuck between understanding your child would benefit from a routine and feeling like you just have too much going on- I get it. However, it is not as hard as you might think. Let’s unpack it.

Start with bedtime

This is the biggest transition in your child’s day and the easiest place to start implementing a routine. Try to keep everything you do consistent, from the way you walk (or race) to your child’s room to reading them a book. I am not gonna lie, our routine has gotten a little ridiculous. Race each other upstairs, brush teeth, go to the bathroom, she does three “tricks” off her bed, we read three books, and three kisses. It doesn’t have to be that detailed- it can literally be two hugs and a high five. It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s the idea that your child knows what to expect when making that transition that’s important. Even if your child sleeps at another caregiver’s house, try your best to collaborate on that routine.

Side Note

The bedtime transition can be really hard for toddlers, and they can be really convincing but try to not give into their requests. Once you incorporate “three tricks” *insert eye roll directed at my husband* into your routine then it is hard to undo it. So when your child asks for that extra sip of water or whatever it is at the end of the routine try your best to stick to your guns.

Create a routine for getting ready in the morning, even if you aren’t going anywhere.

Trust me, I am an advocate for staying in PJ’s all day. However, not having this routine could lead to push-back when actually needing to get ready and making a transition. It also fosters good habits for their future. Something simple like brush teeth, brush hair, wipe face is easy enough- even on a PJ day.

Nap at the same time every day

Naps are another huge transition in your child’s day so try to keep it consistent. If they nap from 12-2 at daycare then have them nap from 12-2 at home. Waiting for tired signs are fine for a young baby, but once they have a routine in place try to stick by it. Life happens and stretching naps are fine, occasionally. However, if you are a go with the flow parent I would also suggest teaching them to be a go with the flow napper (sometimes they have no choice). Try having their nap time routine be consistent with how you lead up to it, instead of location and sleep aids.

Eat at the same time every day

Eating is another huge part of a child’s day. Having a consistent snack and meal schedules also provides them with a ton of security knowing that their basic need is going to be met. So even if you won’t be home for a snack or a meal, try to bring it with you and stick to that time.

Don’t knock a visual schedule

Trust me when I say visual schedules will help you even if you aren’t a Pinterest parent. You don’t even have to do the same things in the same order every day. I use a visual schedule with my toddler and don’t even include times, we just move through it at our own pace. I even made cards for leaving the house, going to see friends, and going out to eat. If you map out your day for your kid using a visual schedule, it helps with that security by at least allowing them to know what is coming next. Here are some Visual Cards you can buy right from amazon if you don’t want to make or print them!

Side Note

You also get the amazing perk of not being blamed for telling your kid they can’t have that extra snack or watch that extra show. Instead, refer to the schedule and it is automatically like it is the schedules fault not yours, it’s awesome.

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Gracie Revland

Hi! I’m Gracie Revland •

One of the two mamas who created Supporting Chaos. It's hard to put into words how excited we are to grow this community of support! So all I can say is thank you so much for being here...