Do you have a weekly routine? Or are you waking up every day wondering ‘What shall we do today?’ Do you sometimes get exhausted needing to make new decisions day in, day out?
It can be so tiring trying to think of activities to do each day. I’ve written a list of over 40 indoor activities you can do with a toddler, but honestly? Sometimes seeing such a list is just overwhelming.
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Decision fatigue is a thing, so don’t downplay it! President Obama always wore a blue or gray suit each day, since he had so many other more important decisions to make. He needed to stay sharp and not get willpower depletion.
As mums we can get decision fatigue, especially when it comes to activities to do with our children. Ever had a mind block of ‘What can I do with him/her now?’ I have. It’s what leads to me counting down the minutes until my husband comes home at 9am.
I believe that this can lead to some bad parenting moments. Our willpowers are depleted, so we make bad decisions when it comes to discipline, what food to allow our kids to eat and screen time.
Reasons to have a weekly activities routine
This is the main reason why I can recommend you have a weekly activities routine. Below is a list of other reasons:
- Fewer decisions helps you prioritise parenting moments.
- Allows you to play a variety of activities for your child.
- Ensures you don’t forget to book in developmental activities.
- Helps you stay sane.
- Gives you space to catch up with a friend once or twice a week.
- Gets you out of the house each day (or intentionally not once a week).
- Forces you to explore new areas of your city.
- Keeps you from getting bored (because, let’s be honest, there are only so many times you can listen to the same children’s book before you go crazy).
In order to keep track of different activities, I use Scattered Squirrel’s Rainbow Monthly printable time and again to help me. It used to be the only diary I used as a teacher (for personal use, as I had a teacher planner) and now as a mum I go back to it for meal planning, as well as regular routine planning. I stick post-it notes for more flexible activities, so I can keep track of different things with the same theme for that day.
By the way, do you notice my cleaning routine and meal menu up there? And what my husband has on after work each day? You can totally use something like this too! I use a command hook to hold up the papers that I need to have constant visual access to. Give it a go!
Toddler Activities to include
The next question is, what activities should you include as regular activities? And how much is too much?
Some activities have a fixed time slot, like preschool or a gym activity. You may even have a regular play date with one or more other friends.
As a side note, why not create a Facebook chat with about 15 other mum friends who live close by? If you’re ever feeling like going to a local park mention it in the chat. If no one’s free, oh well, no harm done. But chances are someone will be feeling the same way you do and will appreciate the company and adult conversation.
Now back to a weekly routine: I can recommend not having something scheduled on every day. Keep one day where there are no commitments, preferably after a busy day. This will give you a breather to do something more spontaneous too (like saying ‘yes’ to a friend who says ‘I just feel like having a coffee with someone’).
Potential Activities to stick into your weekly routine
Here are some ideas for what you could add to your weekly routine:
- Swimming and Physical activity
- Play date (with friend’s or family)
- Messy play (not something you normally do) like water play, muddy garden play or Play dough play
- Adventure day where you go to the beach, or a wooded area, or a stream, or your local petting zoo.
- Library visit
- Cleaning catch up (because sometimes it’s more fun cleaning with someone else around)
- Preschool or Play Centre
- Pretend play like dress ups, pretend tea party etc. Especially if you have a boy and haven’t thought to do this before! You could build a fort!
- Big playground day
I have to emphasise that swimming should be something you try and prioritise once a week in summer at least. This is a life skill, regardless whether you live on an island like New Zealand or not. Too many people drown each year and it’s heart breaking when it’s a child. Getting your child used to the water, knowing how to have fun, but still respect it is a very, very good idea.
Also, in my researching I came across Active Canterbury. Their focus is getting people moving and active, and so they have some great resources, ideas and groups that you can check out and perhaps add to your weekly routine.
An example of weekly activities routine
Sometimes it’s helpful to see what this looks like for other people right? To get an idea of what activities to include and such. Below is the weekly routine we had when my son was about 18 months old:
Monday – Cleaning catch up or Library visit
Tuesday – Swimming
Wednesday – Cleaning catch up or Library visit
Thursday – Play gym
Friday – Willowbank (our local zoo where we have an annual pass)
Saturday – Chill
Sunday – Church
Here’s the beauty of such a schedule: I don’t think I ever stuck to it every day of the week every week. And you don’t have to either. If a friend can’t make the day you had in mind, well swap out one day for another.
Here is another example, when my son was 20 months old:
Monday – Chill or Willowbank
Tuesday – Toy Library
Wednesday – Catch up with friend
Thursday – Preschool
Friday – Preschool
Saturday – Family visit
Sunday – Church
Now, with this weekly routine I do have to stick to it a bit more, as I will be paying overdue fees if I don’t return toys and I will still be paying the $30+ for my child to be at preschool, even if he’s not there. The other days though? The activities written in are the default, but no one is policing whether we go or not.
In Christchurch, New Zealand there are so many different things you can do with children. For my own sanity I made a list of activities you can do with a preschooler in Christchurch, just in case that’s helpful for you.
Hopefully, though, this list has given you some ideas for activities you can slot into your week and not have to think in your pre-coffee state ‘What am I going to do with the kids today?’