A perfect routine for one to four year olds

In this time of self-isolation, it’s important that you establish a routine with your child, particularly if they are sensing that their world has changed. It helps them to better understand what’s happening in their lives and gives them structure. That way you will have a more cooperative child with more confidence.

7am: Wake-up time and get dressed
An older child (from about two) might already be trying to dress themselves. Keep encouraging this, even if it’s just putting on their socks. It’s a great way to develop fine motor skills, particularly when it comes to things like zips and buttons. As they are doing this, take the time to get yourself dressed as well.

8am – 9am: Breakfast
Children of this age need lots of energy to get them through the day, so breakfast could be something like scrambled egg with toast, cereal (like mealie meal or oats) or baked beans. Try to include fruit too, like bananas or apples.

9am – 11am: Playtime
Spend some quality time with your child. Here are some fun games you can play.

11am – 12:30pm: Active time
Get moving. Do some basic movements together like clapping hands, jumping up and down or marching on the spot. To add some fun, put on some music and sing along while moving.

12:30pm – 1:30pm: Lunch
This could be sandwiches with a healthy spread like Marmite or grated cheese, some rice with beans, tuna or sardines on toast. Include some fruit as well.

1:30pm – 3:00pm: Naptime
This is where you get to do the things you need to. Try to have a weekly routine so that each day at this time you tackle something important that might need doing around the house like cleaning the fridge or organising your cupboards. But remember you also need some downtime, and might want to just read a book or catch up on TV or do a bit of exercise.

3:00pm – 3:30pm: Snacktime
Offer a wake-up snack such as carrot or cucumber sticks, yoghurt or popcorn.

3:30pm – 5pm: Playtime
This is also the chance to encourage your kids to do things like draw, paint or read a book. You could also include some TV time here – there are lots of fun, educational shows that your kids can learn from. This would then give you the chance to have some more free time to finish your chores and do some prep for dinner. Here are some other games you could play with your child at this time.

5pm – 6pm: Dinnertime
Try to all eat together as a family, if it is possible. It gives the little ones the chance to practise their speaking and listening skills. Healthy dinner options for children of this age include chicken, rice and peas, spaghetti bolognese or baked potatoes with beans. Try to get in some green vegetables like broccoli or spinach as well.

6pm – 7pm: Bathtime
It’s a great time for kids to have fun. Let them use the soap to wash themselves, and educate them about the importance of keeping clean in these times, particularly when it comes to washing their hands. Never leave your children unattended in the bath.

7pm: Bedtime
Storytime should already be a part of your bedtime routine but don’t neglect it, no matter how busy you are. Here are some fun stories you could read to them.

Image: Gallo/Getty