Let’s talk about your child’s daily routine! Children are …. interesting little humans. I know that mine really knows how to test every single bit of patience that I have. My 4 year old has pushed my limits beyond what I knew was capable, and made me want the scream and throw in the towel more than once (okay, usually more than once a day!). And while it’s inevitable that this season of parenting is going to be hard, no matter what, there are definitely things that can help make it a tiny bit easier!
One of those things, at least in our house, is routine. I learned quickly that my child’s daily routine plays a big part in her overall behaviour and mood.
Now, hear me out. I have never been a person of routine. I get bored easily and the 9-5 grind is literally my arch enemy. However, when it comes to parenting, I have learned quickly that routine is KEY.
My child is an amazing sleeper. It may be inherited from her dad, who could quite literally sleep through anything. But I like to believe it was my hard work because she wasn’t always a great sleeper. I began to stick to a very routine nap schedule when my daughter was about 6 months. I always Stuck to our wake windows, and always planned outings around nap times. We also had a solid bedtime routine, I very rarely strayed from the 7:30 PM bedtime. It wasn’t always easy to have to plan our days around naps, but I knew that a solid nap routine ultimately made our days easier.
Now, my child is 4 and we no longer have nap time. However, I do still have an awesome sleeper. But, since dropping our nap, we now have quiet time and I’ve been working to make that a solid part of our daily routine for the past few months.
Anyway, I’ve rambled a little, but my point is that having a routine in my child’s life has been very, very helpful. Children like consistency and they like to know what is coming next. Having a routine gives them those things.
I’m not saying you have to follow a super strict and structured routine every day, but if you have consistency in your day-to-day, or at least through the week with more flexibility on weekends, you may see a big difference in your child!
So that brings me to today’s topic! 5 important things that you should try to incorporate into your child’s daily routine.
1. Reading Time
Incorporating time into your daily routine for reading is so beneficial. Reading to your child, even from a very young age, has so many impactful benefits.
Reading helps with language and vocabulary development, helps in the development of a child’s imagination, helps to improve concentration and focus, helps children learn about the world around them, and most importantly is a great way to connect and bond with your child!
We sometimes read throughout our day, but always read before bed. It’s part of our bedtime routine! We typically read 3 books before bed and then sometimes incorporate reading into other parts of our day too!
Here are a few of our favourite books currently:
2. 1-on-1 Time
Another really important thing to include in your daily routine is quality time with your child. Even if it is 10 minutes. Uninterrupted time with your child is so important and beneficial. Not only does 1-on-1 time build a solid and trusting relationship between you and your child, but it also helps to build their self-esteem, and creates connection. Having 1-on-1 time that involves your undivided attention is when you may see your child open up and communicate more. It is when the silly inside jokes will be created and when you get to truly see who your child is and what they love to do.
Some of our favourite 1-on-1 activities are:
- Reading books
- Doing crafts
- Going for a walk
- Going somewhere for a special lunch
- Blowing bubbles in the backyard
- Playing with our Magnetic Tiles
- building forts
- Snuggling up to watch a movie
3. Free Play Time
Free play is basically exactly what it sounds like. A time throughout the day where your CV old can play freely however and with whatever they please. It’s not structured, it involves no input or effort from you as the parent. It also has many benefits and free play should take up a good portion of your daily routine. We ideally have multiple free play times throughout the day. Free play is also something I encourage even if it interferes with something else in our routine.
For example, if I have a craft planned for the afternoon, but my daughter is happily playing away in her playroom, that free-play trumps our structured craft. I try very hard to not interrupt free-play!
So why is free play so great? Well, there are actually many benefits! First of all, if your child will go and play independently, that is a win for you! Hello, break time!!! But other than that, there are many great benefits to free play. Free play is great for increasing creativity, nurturing imagination, boosting problem-solving skills, promotes free-thinking, nurtures a sense of self, and may lead to the discovery of interests and passions.
Having a specific area in your home where your child can freely play uninterrupted, is a big bonus. Whether it is a whole playroom or a corner in your living room, creating a small play area will aid in independent free play. Make sure the area is a “Yes” space, meaning the child can play freely with no worry of them getting into anything they shouldn’t or anything that may be unsafe.
Related Post: 5 Steps to Get Your Child to Play More Independently
4. Outdoor Time
This is one I would like to get better at, more specifically in the Winter. Being from Canada, from about May-October we are outside every day, sometimes all day. However, during our cold winter months, getting outside is definitely more difficult for me.
I found it especially hard when my daughter was 2 and under because I was worried she was cold, she didn’t love the snow, etc. but now that she is older it has been getting a bit easier, and she now loves the snow! Hopefully, it’ll get easier and easier for us to get out in the Winter.
During Spring, Summer and Fall, we are outdoors all the time. We usually get a walk in every day, and we spend a lot of time in our own backyard. I find it makes such a difference in not only my child’s behaviour but also my own. There is just something about that fresh air!
There are so many benefits to outdoor time, including an enhancement in health and mental performance, increase in activity levels, hands-on learning opportunities, more naturally-attuned sleep rhythms, reduced stress levels and better moods. And that is just to name a few!
5. Quiet Time
As I mentioned above, since dropping our naps we have been working hard to make quiet time a part of our daily routine. Having quiet time in the day is needed for both the child, and also for the parent! Quiet time can be whatever works best for your family. It can be a nap if your child is still napping. It can be a set time that they go and play freely. It can be a specific structured activity that they sit quietly and do, it can be screen time, it can be a time where they pick a few books to read or look through, or it can be a time where they are sitting at the table colouring.
There is no right way to do quiet time. Find what works best for your child and run with it. Make this time a priority in your day! This is a time that is beneficial for your child but can also be a sanity saver as a parent.
For more information about how we started incorporating quiet time into our day, check out this post: The Easy 3 Step Guide to Quiet Time Success
So there you have it! Those are the 5 things I try to incorporate into our daily routine the best I can. As I said, it doesn’t have to be perfect and structured but trying to do these 5 things every day will have major benefits for both you and your child. Of course, everyone’s lives look different. I personally work full-time (currently from home) and my husband works out of town every second week. My daughter goes to Preschool 3 days a week as well. So, on the days she is home, our day looks something like this:
7:30 – Wake up and eat breakfast
8:30 – Screen Time (we enjoy our slow mornings)
9:30 – Free Play OR Outdoor time
10:30 – Snack
11:00 – Structured Activity / Free Play / Outdoor time / Outing (we typically pick 1 of these 4 depending on the day)
12:00 – Lunch
1:00 – One on One Time
2:00 – Quiet Time
3:00 – Snack Time
3:30 – Free Play OR Outdoor Time
4:30 – Screen time
5:30 – Dinner Time
6:30 – Begin Bedtime routine (Bath, Books, Bed by 7:30)
On the days she is at Preschool, I know she has a similar routine, and when my husband is home, our routine honestly gets a bit off track. We do our best to stick to a routine but are a bit more flexible while he is home. I also want to point out that this is our IDEAL day, many days look nothing like this, I’m in survival mode, and we watch 3 movies in one day instead. I aim for this routine but don’t always succeed. Life happens
I also want to say I am a big advocate for simply doing what works for you and your family. Just because this routine works for us, doesn’t mean it is ideal for you! Our lives are all so unique and children are all so different! Play around and see what works best, but if you can incorporate these 5 things into your day, I think you may see big benefits.