Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Starting a routine with a toddler

My husband and I are not exactly what you would call 'structured' and when Freddy was born we decided that we would have no routine but instead be completely baby led.  Perhaps it would have worked well but with severe food allergies plaguing his early life, Freddy, and all of us, spent only a few hours sleeping every night.

Things are hugely better now that we know how to manage his allergies but the scars of those many sleepless nights have left us with a little boy who does not know how to settle himself and cannot sleep without being helped by rocking or nursing.  It also left us exhausted as a family and desperately looking for ways to bring some normality and order to our lives.

One way to do this, we decided, would be to implement a daily routine to help Freddy know when he was going to bed and to follow a similar structure each day.  Don't get me wrong we are still the type of family that wouldn't think twice before heading off on a spontaneous adventure but for our home life we decided that some structure was necessary.

So how do you start a routine with an almost two year old who has never had any routine before?

Simple.  I did what I love to do: draw!

I took a large roll of paper and drew a picture for each of the activities that we do everyday and stuck it to a wall at Freddy's height.

We decided to set ourselves just a few important guidelines for each day such as lunch would be at noon, dinner would be at 5pm and bed would be at 7pm. 

You can see that the 'daily plan' is quite long and a little wonky but it was such a success.    Freddy immediately 'got it' and completely understood that he was involved in the activities and that one would follow the other.  I really was surprised at how helpful this was to get our routine going, especially to help explain to him that he had to brush his teeth before a book in the evening or that he had to wait until after breakfast to go for a walk with Papa in the forest.

It is now more than a month since we started this routine and it has changed our lives.  Freddy is much happier, we are all sleeping better (in fact he decided that he wanted his own bed) and we function much better as a family knowing that our days finally have a bit of predictability.

Now if we can just find a fun way to get him to eat more during the day we will be onto a winner!


  1. Mycket imponerande och bra med handfasta råd till andra som behöver få till rutiner.

    Skönt att höra att ni sover.

    När ni får besök kanske du kan ha några lösa teckningar att sätta dit så Freddy vet att tex även kusinerna följer med på promenad eller vad det nu är.

  2. Hi! I just found your blog, and this is exactly the type of thing I need for my son, who is 2. Do you have your drawings in a digital file to share? They are so cute and simple. I would love to do this for my son, but alas, I am NOT an artist. :)


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