Inside: Ready to get your family back into a routine after the holidays? This step-by-step guide will help you find the perfect daily routine for your toddler or preschooler to help you get things back on track.
Stop me if this sounds familiar:
You’re just wrapping up the holiday season and it’s been A LOT.
- Late nights
- SO many treats
- Presents, presents & more presents
- Extra screentime
And on top of that, your toddler is just acting totally nuts or extra, extra emotional – like crying and screaming for just about everything.
Let me be the first to tell you the good news: this is all totally normal.
The holiday season is stressful enough for us as adults; now imagine being 18 months or worse, 3 1/2.
- Your whole routine is off
- You’ve been traveling or visiting family
- And allowed extra TV time
- Lots of sweet treats
- And you may have missed some naps here and there
All that? That’s a lot for a little brain to handle. No wonder the holidays are meltdown central for toddlers, preschoolers, and hey, even big kids!
This is not to say that you should feel guilty for all these things mentioned above. Quite the opposite. Staying up late to see the Christmas lights or to light the Hanukkah candles might be an important family tradition, and that’s okay.
That being said, it’s no secret that toddlers thrive with a predictable daily routine.
They like to know what to expect and when to expect it. In many ways, they are mini creatures of habit.
However, getting back into a routine after the holidays may present you with some challenges (yes, even though toddlers crave this predictability!)
Here are some simple phrases you may find helpful when trying to establish a routine in the new year:
“That was really fun when we stayed up late on Christmas Eve! I can’t wait to do that again next year with you. Tonight is our regular bedtime of 7 PM. Would you like your car PJs or your superhero PJs?”
“I also love gingerbread and Christmas cookies! Cookies are not being offered right now. Would you like a cheese stick or cubed cheese on your lunch plate?”
Do you get where we’re going with this? There’s a simple formula you can follow when responding to your child’s incessant requests for all the special things they did over winter break.
- Acknowledge what they’re saying! All the stuff they did WAS really fun, and now it’s over. It’s important to empathize with that.
- Hold your boundary. “Cookies are not being offered right now” or “bedtime is back to 7 PM” – try not to lead with “no” as this is typically a trigger for most kids. Keep it simple, and remember, it’s not up for discussion.
- Change the subject and provide options. There’s no point in going on and on about whatever they asked for. Keep it short and sweet, and change the subject. Providing two options is also a helpful tool for little ones: “would you like these PJs or these PJs?”
Getting Back into a Routine After the Holidays
When people hear the word “routine” they often picture a perfectly organized mom following her kids around with a clipboard while they check off their daily items as they go.
You throw out the word “routine” and somehow you’re suddenly viewed as strict or inflexible.
I know, I’ve been there.
A daily routine is not a strict set of rules to follow.
Think of it as your roadmap or “plan” for the day. It’s how you reign in the chaos and get from Point A to Point B and eventually bedtime.
Choose the daily routine that fits your needs:
1. One Year Old
This routine is ideal for a toddler who still takes two naps. Covers everything from mealtimes to playtimes!
2. 18 Month Old
Now we’re down to one nap! If your 18 month old still takes two naps (totally normal), you can still adjust this routine as necessary. This plan includes activities, outings, and all the things for this fun age.
3. Two Year Old
This daily routine includes a nap or quiet-time block, plus TONS of ideas for preschool or daily activities out of the house. This is also one of our most popular posts!
4. Three Year Old
3 year old’s can be a really tough age for some kids. Having a routine that’s full of learning activities and outings can help with the struggle of being 3. Also includes quiet-time tips for preschoolers.
5. Three Year Old Morning Routine Help
A better title for this post might be “how to keep your 3 year old in their room until a reasonable time” 🙂 For many reasons, sleep can be disrupted at 3 year’s old. No more naps and early wake-times. This post is dedicated to all the parents of early risers everywhere.
6. Four Year Old (Pre-K at Home)
This post focuses largely on how to do preschool at home, but also includes a step-by-step daily routine outline. Whether you’re homeschooling or just need some structure for your 4 year old, this post is packed with helpful info.
7. Baby & Toddler
Here’s a step-by-step playbook for managing a baby and toddler. If you’re dealing with two under two, or you just had your second and the first one is still a toddler – this post has you covered.
8. Bedtime with a Baby & Toddler
This post focuses solely on bedtime – and how to handle that task when you’re flying solo and you’ve got a baby and toddler to get to bed. It seems impossible, but with the right plan – it can work.
9. Toddler & Preschooler
Perfect for the mom who has one in morning preschool and the other at home. This routine shares tips and ideas for managing two different schedules at once.
10. Summer Camp at Home
While we’re still a ways off from summer, this post is helpful to have saved for when you really need it. This daily routine shares my exact plan during the summer with my kids.