Now that Fall is coming, our days are a little more predictable. I’ve been trying to find ways to bring a little more order and routine into our days. Life with a two-year-old can be (and maybe should be) a little unpredictable. While I don’t want to rule out spontaneous trips to the playground or mornings when we spend time reading and accomplish less, I do think I am a better mother and Liam has an easier time when we have some rhythm built into the day.
I don’t have a lot of advice, and it’s been less than two weeks since we started this, but I’ll share what we’re trying so far. (I wrote a little about our daily life in the spring before the first trimester intervened!).
I sometimes hesitate to create too many routines because I have a tendency to become attached to them. When I think about how our lives will change in January when the new baby comes, I feel even more hesitant. Jon’s work schedule varies often (sometimes daily), so it’s hard to have a schedule based on time. Instead, I’ve focused on rhythm and pattern.
Here’s how this is working so far, and I’d love to hear your ideas for adding daily rhythm to your life with a toddler (please!!).
We usually get up between 7:00 and 8:00. I give Liam a snack while I make coffee and breakfast. He is in and out of the kitchen, helping me and playing. We sit down and eat breakfast together. After breakfast, we tidy the house.
This usually looks like cleaning the kitchen, making the beds, and often a quick dusting and dust-mopping of the house. Sometimes I throw laundry in the washing machine. A lot of this depends on how Liam is doing with it all. If I’ve been tidying for a while, and he’s begging me to play, I will finish up as quickly as I can and go play with him.
After we tidy everything (which usually takes less than an hour), we play outside or inside. Sometimes we go to the playground or for a walk. Other times we just hang out at home (Liam’s favorite thing to do!). I try to be present and focus on playing with him (or reading to him or painting with him). I encourage more self-directed play after his nap.
Between 11 or 12 (and by 1:00 at the latest), we have naptime (I’ve written more about my own naptime here). We generally have a lunch/snack first, and sometimes I eat my lunch after I put Liam down for his nap. Then I read and try to sleep (which is not a problem due to pregnancy!). Liam sleeps for one and a half to two hours.
This is the most flexible (or unpredictable) time. We generally have a snack/lunch and then spend time playing or painting. I try to incorporate a lot of outdoor time in the afternoon. This is the block of time I’m trying to add a little more structure to. Usually we do some crafts (he loves letting me help him cut strips of colored paper and then paste them onto a sheet of paper). Sometimes I will get a little writing time or organizing time thrown in, and I’m trying to encourage independent play more and more.
I’ve been winding down our afternoon playtime about forty-five minutes before I need to make dinner. Lately, Liam loves to play with his Play-doh and watch Curious George while I do prenatal yoga. Some days I do the full forty minutes. Other days, I do the fifteen minute warm-up. Then we go in the kitchen to make dinner. Jon and I eat late, so Liam usually has some dinner quite a bit earlier. Then he sits with us (read: runs in and out) and eats a little when we eat too.
We usually give Liam a bath (which is often the time I go shower, too). Then Jon reads to him while I finish up anything that needs to be done. We brush his teeth. Then he runs on the bed. This has become a fundamental part of his nighttime routine (in Your-Two-Year-Old, the authors point out that doing something once often makes it a routine for a two-year-old). Jon and I each stand on one side of the bed, and Liam runs back and forth. We pick him up and toss him around. Then he helps us turn off the light and he nurses to sleep. He has had a hard time falling asleep lately, but the rhythm of our days seems to be helping.
I’m still tweaking this some. It’s odd to me that there seem to be so many hours in the day, and yet less gets done than I expect. I want to find a good space to incorporate daily Bible time with Liam, as well as some preschool activities (potentially).
Though I absolutely love staying home with Liam, feeling like our days are “good” has been much harder than I thought. I am okay with a little bit of TV time for Liam, but there are so many things I could use that thirty minutes for (folding laundry, yoga, writing, etc.), and it’s been hard to decide what takes priority.
Lately, I’ve decided that I feel best when the beds get made and the kitchen gets cleaned, when I have some good quality playtime with Liam (not the frantic trying-to-cram-in-one-more-thing-while-he-plays type), and when I do at least those fifteen minutes of yoga. It is still baffling to me how long activities like a snack can take with a two-year-old. I am far from feeling secure in how our days go, and life changes frequently.
I would LOVE to hear how you build rhythm into your day with your toddler!