When Do Toddlers Get A Sense of Time?

On any given day in our house it can be Christmas, Fia’s birthday, Emmett’s birthday, you name it. Sometimes it is just a normal day. In other words, we live in a perpetual Groundhog Day. Except our time loop consists of every day of the week. Not just the same day repeated. Confused? We all are.

Here is how any morning might go:

Fia: Mom, do I have school today?

Me: No honey, it’s Monday. You have gymnastics. Then we play.

Fia: So do I have school after my nap?

Me: Your afternoon nap? No, then we play again, have dinner and it’s night time.

Fia: So after my second nap I go to school?

Me: What do you mean? You only take one nap a day.

Fia: The nap I take at night.

Me: But you don’t take a nap at night. You go to sleep.

Fia: I mean the nap I take at night.

Me: Oh, yes, okay, so tonight you will go to sleep and then when you wake up you will go to school.

Fia: But I th0ught I was going to gymnastics….

Trying to get your toddler to understand a sense of time is something I find really difficult to explain. I also imagine it gets really hard for them not knowing what each day is going to be. I try and tell her each morning what the day has in store and at night what the next day will be. But even though I can tell her until I’m blue in the face, she will still ask. Over and over and over again. And even though she knows the “days of the week” song, it doesn’t mean she has any clue what she is singing.

Fia: Is today Tuesday?

Me: No, it’s Saturday.

Fia: It’s Saturday?

Me: Yes, the weekend.

Fia: What’s a weekend?

Me: When mommy and daddy don’t work.

Fia: So when is Wednesday?

I keep thinking maybe a chart would help? Not sure how you would design it though. If there were icons like a desk that signified school on certain days, a balance beam to signal gymnastics, etc, and she could put a sticker on it each day, several times a day, whenever she got confused. But then I imagine the “sense of time”, the sense of 12/24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, etc, could make all this even more confusing.

Of course I can just keep having circular conversations with her too, as long as she doesn’t get frustrated and I don’t get annoyed. So far I find it cool that she is so curious what each day is. But if it’s oh, 4 years of this, well then it could get a bit tiresome.

Any tricks to share? And when do they really start to get a sense of time? I heard 8 or 9 years old. That’s a lot of years to have a circular conversation about gymnastics, birthdays and Christmas. For both of us.


Calendar picture via Shutterstock

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