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One of my biggest parenting struggles over the past year has been creating a consistent daily routine for Bensen. This was especially difficult while I was in school because his schedule varied on a day to day basis depending on who was caring for him, how late Joe worked and how late I was in class or at my internship. I'm graduated now and we won't be participating in the back to school ritual with everyone else this fall, but it has been my goal over the last few months to create a solid daily routine. This toddler routine is also perfect for those of you who are already planning to get the kids back in the school routine.
As a full time working mom with a new baby on the way, I know having a routine is important not only for my toddler's sake, but for the sake of our family and everyone who cares for him. Our schedule would look a lot different and possibly feel more structured if I were home with Bensen every day, but because that's not an option for our family right now, we have developed habits that have helped us make the most of our current situation and keep Bensen on as steady of a schedule as possible. Go & Grow by Similac® Milk-Based Powder and Go & Grow by Similac® Mix-ins™ play a big role in our everyday routine. Earn $3.00 with the purchase of any size of Go & Grow by Similac® Mix-ins™ through Ibotta.
Start the morning off right
Mornings are usually the most hectic time of day at our house. Joe and I are both rushing to get ready for work and out the door on time. The mornings when Bensen sleeps right up until we have to get him out of bed, change his diaper and take him to his caregiver's for the day are ideal. On rare occasions, he'll wake up earlier than normal and we are busy refereeing disputes between him and the dog over toys while working to get him ready for the day as well. When this happens, we'll mix our Go & Grow by Similac® Milk-Based Powder with water to help us start the day off well and supplement Bensen's nutrition until he gets to grandma's for breakfast.
I get to stay home with Bensen a couple of mornings a week and although our mornings are slower and have less strict of a schedule, we still stick to a routine of breakfast, a morning walk, play time, and then Bensen takes his morning nap while I clean the house and shower. Breakfast is Bensen's favorite time of day and it's my goal to provide him with a meal that is full of the nutrition that a busy, growing toddler needs. We love to include Go & Grow by Similac® Mix-Ins™ with his morning meal. Each single-serving packet adds extra nutrition (protein, fiber and essential vitamins and minerals) to the foods that he already enjoys. Simply use one packet of Go & Grow by Similac® Mix-Ins™ for one serving (or 1/2 cup of food). Go & Grow® by Similac Mix-Ins™ is available at your local Walmart and Walmart.com and has been added to things like pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, and applesauce in the mornings at our house.
Create and follow a schedule throughout the day
When life felt a little out of control earlier this year, one of the things that I did to get a handle on things was to find a "daily schedule" chart that would stay with Bensen wherever he goes each day. I didn't have a lot of time to create one myself, so I found one that fit our needs, had it laminated and put it in the diaper bag with a dry erase marker. This "My Daily Schedule" chart has been a game changer for us! Not only does he have a basic routine laid out for each day, there is space to write in his nap times, what he eats throughout the day and any other need to know information like medicine he was given, etc. Anyone who is with him throughout the day can quickly see what he's been up to. Having a simple chart has helped us maintain a regular routine to benefit Bensen, and has helped me feel more involved in what he does when I'm not with him.
Stick to a bedtime routine
Continuing our toddler routine clear up until Bensen goes to sleep has made a huge difference in his schedule. When I was in school, like I mentioned before, this was harder to do because sometimes he stayed late at his caregiver's, other times he went to scouts or ran errands for work with Joe and didn't get home until after his bedtime and sometimes I would get home right before or in the middle of bedtime and he'd want to play with me instead of going to sleep. Creating a solid bedtime routine and sticking to it has made a huge difference in our family over the past few months. Getting Bensen to bed is easier, he is always asleep by the same time each night and I've noticed that since settling into our bedtime habits, he wakes up at a more consistent time every morning as well.
Bedtime has become one of my favorite times of the day because I've created a routine that allows me to have fun and bond with Bensen after work while helping him unwind from his day full of exploration and activity. We start our bedtime routine at 7:00pm every night with either a bath or some extra play time or a night time walk. Bath time usually lasts until 7:30pm and if we're just getting some extra play time or a walk in, we end that at 7:30 as well. At that point in the night, we clean up toys, have a sippy cup of Go & Grow® by Similac Milk-Based Powder with water if Bensen needs a bedtime snack, brush teeth, read stories, sing songs, snuggle and then put him to bed for the night. Even the 30 seconds that it takes us to put Bensen in bed has a routine! We put our books away, turn on the sound machine, hand him his binky, give him kisses, lay him down with his taggie and say, "Night-night Bensen, Mommy/Daddy love you!" before we slip out of his room and shut the door.
Read: Make Date Night Fun for the Kids Too
Be prepared for routine disturbances
For the most part, we don't stray from our daily schedule, but every once and a while, something will happen that throws off our routine. I always make sure to have an extra sippy cup of water and a packet of Go & Grow by Similac® Milk-Based Powder with us in case we need it. Teething, the excitement of a new atmosphere or even just being around different people at meal time can throw off Bensen's eating habits. We work hard to feed him balanced meals and a well rounded diet throughout the day, but I know that on days when he's being picky because his teeth hurt or he's more interested in what is going on around him than he is in eating his entire meal, Bensen will still get the nutrition he needs. Go & Grow by Similac® Milk-Based Powder helps balance our toddler's diet, has OptiGro™ and is designed to support brain, eye and physical development.
Go & Grow by Similac® Milk-Based Powder and Go & Grow by Similac® Mix-Ins™ can be purchased at Walmart, in store or online, and play a huge part in our everyday routine. They go with us when we're on a walk so that I can get my exercise, add a little bit more nutrition to regular meal time, and a few packets are always in the diaper bag so that we have that added nutrition with us when we are on the go. This comes in handy when we're on family date nights, running errands or as an addition to any meal at a restaurant, party or gathering. We found ours at Walmart, in the formula aisle.
How do you maintain a consistent routine every day with your toddler?