Tag Archives: 2- to 3-year-old

Toddler Routines with Photos


Depending on our current “phase,” we have certain times of day that somehow make me crazy. Kids are kids, and it’s my own fault, but I let the little frustrations or little moments of resistance eat away at my patience instead of embracing the slow pace and “inconvenience” of motherhood to littles. It’s in those moments that God is trying to teach me and refine me. However, there are also times when we really need to get somewhere at a certain time. In those cases, we were inspired by ideas from Training A Treasure to establish a routine, and to implement that routine, take photos of our kids actually going through each step of the routine to make a chart.

First, I used this strategy for getting out the door. When Pen Elaine was younger and Snuggly Man was a tiny baby, getting out of the house in a reasonable amount of time and without losing my patience was a major challenge. This time of day was apt to chaos and far from peaceful, and the routine really helped cross that hurdle. Over time, the routine changed and the need for a specific routine waned, but at some point, we’ll probably make a new one for a refresher when Snuggly Man needs to have “jobs” for getting out the door.


By the way, to make my little photo chart, I used my smart phone! I simply took the photos, used picstitch (app) to organize them into a collage/order, then added title and artwork with Overgram (app), and printed them straight to my wireless printer! Good luck!

More recently, we have established a morning routine for after my Honey leaves the house. This had become a time of frustration for getting Pen Elaine to help clean up after breakfast and get ready for the day. I especially wanted to change our morning ritual so that we had moments of connecting in a close, positive way before leaving the house for morning commitments that would start up this fall. I found myself losing patience and getting irritable because Pen Elaine was fighting me on her morning jobs of cleaning under the table and making her bed, but I knew I needed to make time for close connection with her in the midst of getting required chores done. I wanted to start the day well with her and Snuggly Man, with servings of grace, love, and responsibility. So, Pen Elaine and I worked together to decide what our morning routine would include. We made our kitchen cleanup time more fun by putting on music before we started, then we took time to read a book together before starting on our next set of responsibilities: getting dressed and making beds. Finally, we ended our routine with a game of hide-and-seek, one of our favorite activities 🙂 Now, we actually get through our morning chores faster than before and with a LOT less grumbling and arguing. Plus, we feel like a team on a mission together with lots of room for fun and love along the way.

Philippians 2:12-15

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky


Pen Elaine’s Mommy’s most favorite book…this week


IMG_0161.PNGThis book is so sweet in an unexpected way. I have unintentionally become a big fan of Jane Yolen, and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? is a delightful picture book written by her and Mark Teague. I discovered it at the library probably a year ago or more, but it is still on my love list for a mom of a toddler. Pen Elaine likes the funny scenarios that feature dinosaurs misbehaving, like a 2-year-old would. There’s a comedy of proportions since a dinosaur is very large to be acting like a toddler. Plus, Pen Elaine, as a 3-and-a-half-year-old, wanted me to read the scientific names of each featured dinosaur, written in small print on each page. The illustrations are completely captivating, for both of us.

The endearing part that makes me love this book, though, is that the authors somehow capture exactly the frustrations of parenting a “terrible two” while also pointing out the sweet vulnerability and moments to treasure and cuddle these pint-sized humans figuring out how to navigate the world and express their feelings. From being a messy eater, overflowing the bathroom sink, to tantrums and moodiness, this book reminds parents to focus on the other moments of unabashed affection, trying to be helpful, and those cute little faces. Reading this book encouraged me to have a little more patience and a little more perspective on handling and loving my toddler/preschooler. When I finish reading it, I have to steal snuggles from my little one every time.

Pen Elaine’s {mommy’s} most favorite book…this week


We have been discovering a plethora of delightful books this summer! Some books are favorites of Pen Elaine’s while others become favorites of mine, so we can practice showing consideration for the other by reading the ones we know the other prefers, or sometimes we make a deal where I can read the one Pen Elaine really wants and then she’ll let me read the one that I really want, and vice versa.
Oftentimes, we win the other one over to loving our personal favorite…and oftentimes I’ve read a book I’m on the fence about so many times that I try to hide it on the far end of the bookshelf…
Anyhow, we both loved

Before I Was Your Mother by Kathyn Lasky and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

This is a very sweetly told story, first person, about remembering childhood while comparing it to her present state of motherhood and the inevitable changes it brings to a woman’s life. The memories are charming and colorful, and the end of the book warmed my heart every time, often to little happy tears…maybe I am just soft, but I highly recommend this lovely book. It reminded me of the beautiful blessings that God has given me and the love I get to pass in to my children.



Reading together is a great way to open up opportunities for discussion, even with a 3-year-old! Books open her mind to new possibilities and exploring the unknown. When we read together, we both think of questions that we’d like to ask each other. Pen Elaine is very inquisitive, and most all toddlers and preschoolers go through a very long “why” phase of wanting to understand how the world works. Reading a variety of books together helps encourage and develop curiosity and creativity and school preparedness. Reading together, just like eating dinner together as a family, is a way to promote success in school, teaching your child that they are loved and valued by the time you give to them, time where they can listen and also be heard. Reading is a time to snuggle and have safe touch, important for all areas of development in a young individual.

Pen Elaine’s most favorite book…this week

Pen Elaine’s most favorite book…this week

We recently checked out the old classic Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina; I remember seeing this book on Reading Rainbow as a kid, and my Honey says it was one of his favorites. This is a funny tale that is quaintly dated, since it is about a “traveling/walking” hat salesman! We checked out the book on cd version and listened to the story being told, but where the real fun began was when we started acting out the story as we listened. Pen Elaine loved being the monkeys best, making me the hat salesman who falls asleep and gets all his caps stolen. We got to practice our imitation and how the characters in the story handle frustration and anger. Below, Pen Elaine is being the sleepy salesman (Snuggly Man soaking up our play in the background) while I sneak a photo and pretend to steal her caps before hiding up in “the tree” (on the bed) behind her. I think we re-lived and listened to this book about 5 to 10 times in this one sitting before I was really ready for a new activity…probably making dinner.



Reading comprehension is a very important skill, so practicing ways of helping the message and events of a story to “sink in” prepares children for school success and all those standardized tests that will one day come to haunt their educational journey, ha! Furthermore, acting out stories or just the beginning of an event can open up a world into the heart of a child. Children act out their fears, joys, and representations of family, friends, etc., through dramatic play. The characters in her play will face and handle what is on Pen Elaine’s mind and heart…and often get into trouble for the same behaviors that Pen Elaine is struggling with at the time. Talking through these little dramas in the safe setting of dramatic play is a fun way to reach your child’s heart.