5 Tips To Set Up A Morning Routine For Your Toddler
Most mornings, especially during last school year, getting all 4 of my school aged children, my 2 toddlers, and myself ready were a whirlwind. I would get my oldest two to their buses, and then I would drive my elementary aged boys to school. I would usually drop them off and then head straight to the gym or to run morning errands with my toddlers in tow. So, in order to have them ready in the mornings there are 5 things I did that made my life a lot easier.
1. Give Them Managed Choices — Young children always want choices, and when you tell them they don’t have a choice, there are are usually tears and tantrums that follow. However, letting them choose freely is not always feasible when you have a schedule to maintain. One way that I’ve found to prevent protests but still stick to our schdule, is to be provide a choice between two items. For example, I will let the boys choose between 2 different weather appropriate shirts, versus just letting them choose. shirt out of their shirt bin. That way I can still offer the opportunity to make a decision, but I can still ensure he’s wearing the appropriate attire for the occasion and weather but avoid meltdowns.
2. Create Routines — Each morning, when we wake up I try my best to have my toddlers to follow the same routine:
· Shower or Bath
· Apply Lotion
· Brush Teeth
· Brush Hair
· Put on Clothes
Although I sometimes have to remind them to do those things, I’ve learned that the more they practice the routine, the less time I spend asking them to do things in the morning. When it comes to creating a routine, another helpful tool is to create a picture list of the routine and post it where they get ready in the morning. That way, they have a reference point to try and follow the routine without having to ask, or be told, what comes next. This method also helps them practice following sequential tasks.
3. Make the Bathroom Kid Friendly — In order to make things easier for my toddlers to navigate, I try and always make sure that all the items they use regularly are in every bathroom. I purchased a step stool for each of our bathrooms, so that in the event we have to shuffle things in the morning, they can still reach each sink. I made sure toddler toothpaste, toddler flossers, and mouthwash are in each bathroom. I leave disposable cups in each bathroom, so everyone remembers to use mouthwash (this helps all the children, not just the toddlers). I leave wipes, baby lotion, and a hair sponge as well. Also, there is a bin in each bathroom where washcloths go after use so there is no confusion on where to leave it and nobody accidentally uses someone else’s (large family 101). If your child is only using one bathroom, that makes things a lot easier, and you do not have to worry about prepping each bathroom, however, I would suggest that you prep their bathroom at night so that everything is ready for them in the morning. This helps to avoid the morning “where is” and “I can’t finds”.
4. Label Everything — I cannot stress enough how much I love labels. In light of our family dynamic, I am not the only person who puts away clean clothes. In my toddlers’ room, their bins are labeled with what goes inside — shirts, shorts/pants, underwear, pajamas, and then socks. The purpose for labeling their bins is two-fold —
— Everyone that helps to put away clothes, always knows where to put things so they do not have to constantly ask me.
— Things stay organized so that I can teach my toddlers exactly where to look for their items each morning.
One tip for those wondering how to label if your child cannot read yet, is to use colors or shapes to identify drawers or bins.
5. Be Flexible — One thing that has come with the territory of my life is learning to be flexible. Flexibility mean I stress less, and I stress everyone in my house less. I know this one is easier said than done, but the one thing that has saved tears (my toddlers and mine), was changing my expectations of how things were supposed to go. Preparation and organization, combined with flexibility and realistic expectations have been my saving grace when it comes to getting 8 people out of the house every morning!
These 5 things have been extremely instrumental in keeping my sanity while trying to get my family out the door on busy mornings. Furthermore, these things have also helped in teaching my toddlers autonomy, how to follow multi-step tasks, and has allowed them to begin to model organizing their spaces in a way that allows them to thrive. Let me know in the comments your best advice for getting your toddlers dressed and ready in the mornings.
Raquel Phillips is a writer, digital creator, CPT, certified group fitness instructor, and entrepreneur. She is a wife and mother of 6 amazing children. She resides in Virginia Beach, VA.
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