Make Preparation a Priority
We all have days where we end up rushing around in the morning or before dinner, trying to get everything done at once -- but that can wreak havoc on your toddler's need for structure. If you nix her usual post-breakfast outdoor activity, she might be cranky the rest of the morning. "Skipping your child's whole routine when you feel strapped for time is usually not a good idea in the end," says Marni Axelrad, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston. "The meltdown that ensues will inevitably take even longer to deal with than if you'd just stuck to the schedule in the first place." One smart fix? If you're a night owl, do some prep the night before (or do it in the morning if you're an early riser). Get breakfast pulled together, plan for snacktime, or pack your diaper bag and stroller for tomorrow's trip to the zoo. Still not achieving a steady schedule? "If it seems like the routine isn't working four or five mornings in a row, it might be time to change the routine itself to make it fit into your day better," says Dr. Axelrad. Just be sure to sell the change to your child enthusiastically. You might say, "Since you're getting to be such a big girl, we're going to start getting dressed before we eat breakfast!"