Welcome to Heather's Blog
003 | Scheduling life with a Toddler: Healthy Balances

003 | Scheduling life with a Toddler: Healthy Balances

Welcome back to my new blog, a space where am sharing the unfiltered journey of 1% positive changes I am making in my health, financial independence, personal growth, and the delicate balance of being a stay-at-home mom.

“Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

— Robert Fulghum

Every Child-parent relationship is different. And yes I’ve read and listened to podcasts, and I’ve taken college-level child psychology and education classes. But I feel as I birthed a child my being has shifted as well. My daughter is high-energy and high metabolism. She is a toddler and the milestones are 6 months to 2 years ahead. She is awesome just like every other child and has a unique set of challenges, like all kids. So, Please read and enjoy my progress in trying to reduce my stress and find a schedule that works for us. But if you take lessons from this blog, experiment and adapt for you and your child. I am an artist at heart and an engineer in my brain, so some of the ways I attack life will and should differ from how you meet your daily challenges.

My original Smart goal

I want to take a moment to break down my original goal. I know this post is “posted” on a date, but I am writing this section before I even do my scheduling experiment. I spent the last 6-8 weeks of 2023 sick and tired. So I want to enter this new small chapter of life with the focus of balancing health, rest, productivity, and growth.

If you remember from post 001, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

S | Specific: A specific goal leaves no room for ambiguity. It clarifies the endpoint, providing a clear target for your efforts.

  1. What will you achieve? I will learn from my successes and failures as I make weekly plans that leverage at-home learning, free educational events, gym/health time, and rest.
  2. What will you do? Each week I will make a plan, learn from the plan, and adapt

M | Measurable: Incorporating quantifiable metrics allows you to track advancements, transforming abstract goals into concrete achievements that can be monitored and celebrated.

  1. What data will you use to decide whether you've met the goal? Do I have 3-4 plans with solid learned experiences?

A | Achievable: An achievable goal is one that, with the right resources and commitment, is within your reach. It's about setting objectives that inspire growth without setting oneself up for failure.

  1. Are you sure you can do this? Do you have the right skills and resources? Yes!

R | Relevant: A relevant goal contributes to the larger tapestry of your aspirations. It ensures that each step you take is purposeful and significant.

  1. Does the goal align with those of your family or support group? Yes, thankfully toddlers are just along for the ride right?!
  2. How will the result matter? They will improve my quality of life and help me reduce spending stress and decision fatigue, and hopefully make me feel more present as a wife and daughter when spending time with family after mom-ing all day -- something I never expected to be doing by the way.

T | Time-bound: A time-bound goal adds a sense of urgency, fostering commitment and preventing procrastination. It sets a deadline, turning a distant dream into a near-future reality.

  1. What is the deadline for accomplishing the goal? 4 weeks of improvement--no matter how small

My final SMART goal is to create three to four weekly routines in January that allow for both my daughter and my life to be enriched. Then at the end of each week, I want to analyze what worked and did not work as I plan for the next week and improve our routine to fit with our family dynamics, times, hobbies, and goals. Finally, I will share my schedules with you so you can see some examples!

How I Start a Schedule

  1. I Always start with free events like reading time at the local library. Remember, you can always remove it if it doesn’t work in your schedule.
  2. I love that my daughter takes a nap, but I try to put optional activities toward the end of her nap time in case the nap doesn’t happen.
  3. I enforce a mandatory rest and reading time at the beginning of her nap. If she isn’t tired, she still needs to cuddle with her stuffed animals and can play with some board books.
  4. Optionally, I'll add in Holidays as inspiration for shat we could learn together or focus on.
  5. Check your local community dates such as church events, community gardens, town halls, etc. for free or small-fee fun events.
  6. Then we have a gym with classes for me and toddlers, so I plan on working out or walking time.
  7. Also, weather permitting it is really healthy to get a bit of sun every morning. We are in the southern US, so that may still be doable, and I will pencil it into my calendar too.  

Here is the initial blank template I am using this month

Example weekly 1/2 hour template for google sheets you can use yourself

I created a base schedule last week in my blog post, that did not account for any one-time or monthly events. I find these events through friends, Facebook, and the local newspapers/magazines. We get a guide each month and then many of our community centers send out quarterly updates.

What Can We Do About Independent Play?

Children thrive on playing, and some children are more active than others, so here are some tips.

  1. Check the weather - if it’s good, try something outside. Do you want to be productive too? Grab some chalk for your kiddo and read a book or check your email outside! The sunshine is super healthy for both kids and adults.
  2. You need some toddler skill ideas: Counting, Colors, letters, Spanish or other language vocab, walking heel to toe, stringing beads, cutting, gluing, sewing, puzzles, work on months and days, speed point to body parts, balance beams, walk sideways, march to music rhythm, jump over a string, walk on a circle outline, trace shapes and lines, building, logic, match cards to objects, latches and locks, weather
  3. Can a toddler do chores? Yes, just don’t force it -- try to make it fun: Organize drawers, make the bed, match socks, fold towels, hand washing, sort play money, pet care (feed, water, brush), load and unload their dishes from the dishwasher, pour every ne water from a pitcher, arranging flowers (you can always just use the ones too short for your vase), wiping tables, help in the garden or yard, sweeping, dusting, suffering (just make it shorter tools if possible), peel and cut banana or orange, composting, wood polishing, self-care (hair, teeth, or clothes)
  4. Energy drainers: Dance jams, obstacle courses, hide and seek, following feet/hand marks on the floor, following the leader, balancing/yoga, walking to the park
  5. Imaginative ideas: dress up, pretend to be a doctor, pretend to be a teacher, pretend to be a mom/dad, pretend to be a waiter/waitress, pretend to be a cashier, playdough, mimic emotions and feelings, imitate animals’ movements, trace body and let them color
  6. Work: Let’s delve into some of the pros of working from home because it is not all bad.
  1. “Wherever they are, whomever they are around, children are observing and learning.” -Michigan State University.
  2. Your child is likely to imitate and repeat actions that you reinforce with accolades and or laughter.
  3. You can reinforce practical skills like time blocking, budgeting, customer service, work-life-balance and focus
  4. One of the hardest lessons I learned about focus is this - to train focus you cannot interrupt focus. As much as I want to say “good job,” when my child is deep in thought - this actually trains her attention span to be shorter.

Finally, the wrap-up

In wrapping up this exploration of balancing life with a toddler, it's essential to reflect on the journey of intentional growth and the pursuit of a harmonious and balnced schedule. As I delved into this intricate and clumsy dance of parenthood, striving for that delicate equilibrium between health, productivity, and personal well-being, the recognition of each child's uniqueness becomes paramount. The acknowledgment that children are not merely listeners but keen observers reinforces the profound impact our actions have on their development. The wisdom shared by Robert Fulghum resonates—worry not that children never listen but that they are always watching.

Through the lens of a SMART goal, the aim has been Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound—to craft weekly routines that enrich both the parent and child's lives. As we progress, the journey unfolds week by week, with a commitment to adapt, learn, and improve. The intention is not to provide a one-size-fits-all solution but rather to offer inspiration for fellow parents to experiment and customize their schedules based on their unique circumstances, challenges, and joys.

The process of organizing life with a toddler involves a patient approach, from considering free events and mandatory rest times to navigating independent play and instilling practical skills. Beyond the challenges lie opportunities, such as reinforcing the importance of focus, time blocking, and work-life balance. As the journey unfolds, the hope is to cultivate positive habits, alleviate decision fatigue, and foster a more present and fulfilling family life.

In sharing these insights and experiences, the aim is to inspire fellow parents on your journey, recognizing that, much like the unpredictable yet beautiful nature of parenting, schedules and routines are subject to evolution and adaptation. By embracing the uniqueness of each child, celebrating successes, and learning from challenges, the path toward a balanced and enriching life with a toddler becomes an ongoing adventure—one filled with growth, joy, and the boundless love that accompanies the beautiful chaos of parenting.

Here's to a journey of 1% improvements, positive direction, and , of course, a life well-lived.