Order in the World of a Toddler

Any mom can attest that order is a luxury when you have a toddler. I have been in constant search of the perfect schedule or some sense of steady continuity from the time I gave birth up to now. I didn’t realize that what I was looking for was contradictory to the nature of this season of life which is UNPREDICTABILITY. From repeatedly waking up in the middle of the night to feed the baby to constantly keeping an eye on an exploring infant to the running around and wrestling with a very active toddler, all of these have spur of the moment activities, accidents, and everything in between. It’s crazy but (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) it’s fun!

The joy of being a mom is unexplainable. It’s like a combination of having an adrenaline rush and sugar overload with all your senses heightened every single day. You’re always on third gear, full throttle ready to go from the time you wake up. You need to match the energy of your child otherwise you’ll miss out on a lot of things. I love seeing Timmy explore and discover stuff on his own. I love hearing him appreciate the basic colors and shapes he sees in nature. He’s always fascinated by the moon and stars, things that I don’t get to appreciate as often as I should. He sees grandeur in the little things. His sense of awe and wonder is contagious! 🙂

Now, that is not to say that everything is easy breezy in our home. It’s not. This is why I’ve decided that we need to have a schedule to follow daily. We have already established the basic routines like prayer time, meal and snack time, toothbrush time, afternoon naps, and all that. However, it’s those dead periods in between that can completely drive you nuts especially when you have other things to do. The most challenging part is Timmy’s attention span. You really can’t keep a toddler still for hours unless you give him a gadget, which has become a go-to toddler pacifier. We do let Timmy use our phone or tablet but in intermittent periods of time. He’s allowed maximum of one hour a day and that’s it.

His bustling energy and short attention demands one activity after another. He needs to be constantly engaged and entertained. I know that Timmy loves personalized stuff so I decided to create a schedule that will make him more aware of our routine. God reminded me one time that parenting should be intentional. We should make an effort to nurture, discipline, and train our child. I’m awful at scheduling and this is something I don’t want to pass on to Timmy. I’m blessed to have a husband who needs to plan because it complements my always-on-the-go mindset. 🙂 Yesterday, I finally finished my DIY project. Thank You, Lord! 🙂 It was officially launched and used on August 22, 2014. Haha!

 The materials I used are:

  • red cartolina (because Timmy loves red)
  • magnetic Cars characters
  • craft foam for embellishment
  • silver metallic pen
  • Sharpie colored pens
  • wooden letters
  • black cartolina
  • illustration board (to mount the cartolina)
  • star puncher
  • felt paper
  • scissors
  • double-sided tape
  • glue
  • velcro

It’s so heartwarming to see Timmy appreciate his personal schedule! He kept reading the things he needs to do, he counts the remaining squares with velcro that still needs stars, and he likes getting his star medal! 🙂 Last night I told Omar that the schedule helped me, too. I was able to keep Timmy busy, I got to finish my work, and enjoyed my time with them. Sure there were still gaps because you can’t really ask your toddler to settle down and let him finish tons of activities. Plus, I wouldn’t want to bore him. Everything in his schedule should spell FUN. Our day was more manageable, less crazy, and it went by with ease. Unbelievable. Haha!

Let me explain our schedule a little bit. We have storytelling three times a day because we really want him to grow up loving books. The best part is, Timmy is not content with one story. He would request a minimum of three for each session. If he thinks you’ll still indulge him, he’ll get more! 🙂 If you’ll notice, we do it twice—when he wakes up in the morning and after his nap—and once before going to bed. This is because we don’t want him to associate books with sleeping. I want him to see books as something that energizes him once he’s awake! It’s funny because his favorite book now is “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed.” Heehee! 🙂

We do homeschooling twice. This involves fine motor activities, reading sessions (we’re at long vowels now), and pre-writing exercises. This is 30 minutes tops. I don’t want him to feel that homeschool is boring or burdensome. We even use his stuff toys to show them how it’s done and he enjoys it! Free play is his I-can-do-whatever-I-want time. This could mean blocks, cars, dinosaurs, letters (he loves all sorts of letter toys and he sometimes thinks that spelling time is play time!), numbers, and basketball. Of course, clean up means keeping all his toys and getting praised for doing so. 🙂

At first, I wrote down his schedule on a sheet of paper and tried following it. Then I realized that it’s not as effective as getting him involved in the process. Kids love looking forward to things and a schedule gives them that. It also gave me a semblance of order in our day. I’m so grateful to have a supportive husband who even got his wrist a bit injured when he was trying to get the illustration underneath a heavy pile of boards. He also helped me mount the poster and cut the board. Praise God for awesome husbands! Most of all, I thank the Lord for His convictions and gentle reminders about intentional parenting. It’s hard but He shows and affirms to me that it’s rewarding. 🙂

Just when I was about to give up on my search for the ideal schedule, God reminded me that He is a God of order. From the time He created the world to His plans for mankind, everything was set ahead of time and accomplished according to His plan. He made me realize that there is no such thing as a perfect, foolproof toddler schedule but I can do something to make our day and our household more manageable and less chaotic. 🙂 This DIY project imposes that I follow it, too, and be consistent in keeping order in our home. After all, that’s one of my main roles as a homemaker. I hope this encourages every overwhelmed mom to take a step back, breathe, pray, and see how you can make your day more predictable and organized. The craziness will always be there but at least you have a fallback routine to follow after a potty accident or a temper tantrum. 🙂 There’s order in a toddler’s world when there’s someone drawing the line for them. 🙂

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