There is an age-old debate about the amount of structure and routine that children need as they grow and develop. However, there isn’t a best-fit structure for all families and the routines each family have need to be adaptable and flexible to the needs of their children.
There are a few aspects of routine that really will help a toddler and child to develop and grow, that all families should consider:
Bedtimes and sleep routines – it is crucial that children get the right amount of sleep. Getting this routine started can be tricky but it is possible, and there are a few tricks and tips to make it easier. Have a set bedtime – this time is non-negotiable, it happens 7 nights a week and sets the body clock, just like going to bed at the same time, have a set time in the mornings (maybe it will be ‘you cannot get out of bed until this set time’ or ‘you must wake up at this time’). Luckily, technology is here to lend a helping hand, Zazu has a Penguin Sleep Trainer that gives your child clues for their sleep routine – different coloured lights mean it’s okay to be out of bed, music for the time to sleep and a variety of other settings to tailor to your child.
Have an afternoon routine that helps your child to relax and debrief after a busy day. Make sure that they know you are available and there to have a chat about their day, to build on a growth mindset and to have quality time together every day.
A routine around meal times and food. Eating a meal is a social activity as well as a fulfilment of your body’s needs. Set up structures that work for your family; perhaps you eat dinner together at night, and your child helps to set the table or wash up or after school you sit and have afternoon tea together. It is also important to have boundaries and limits on what ‘must’ be eaten and what is negotiable. The Munchkin Plates make it easier to set these boundaries with your child.
Routines about health and hygiene, children need to learn from a young age about caring for themselves and their bodies. Brushing teeth, bathing, hair care, visiting the dentist, going to the doctor and other daily habits such as sunscreen are essential to set up from a young age. To make tooth brushing a bit more fun, take a look at all the fun toothbrushes on Mumzworld like this Barbie one and choose one that will help entice your child. Every family will still have other routines that they value and use in day to day living and that is fantastic and should continue as long as it works and supports them and their children. Please don’t forget that there is not a right or wrong structure for each family, do what works best for your family and celebrate being unique!