Establishing, and sticking to, toddler routines is a key tactic in helping your kid organize their world. It’s also key to helping you and your partner organize your DVR queue — or do whatever it is you like to do when the kid is finally asleep. Brushing, books, and bed: parenting killer B’s, on the swarm.
First up, brushing, which you should add to the bedtime routine as soon as your kid’s first tooth appears since even the tiniest teeth will benefit from fluoride toothpaste twice a day. You can actually start practicing good oral health with them from birth, by using a soft washcloth to wipe their gums after feedings. Once that first tooth shows up, brush with a rice grain-sized bit of toothpaste twice a day. From ages 3-6, use a pea-sized glob. Teach them to spit out the extra at the end but not rinse, as those last licks are good for teeth. If you didn’t know that, teach yourself.
Next, time to read, which should already be part of your bedtime ritual since you’ve certainly had ample opportunity to figure out which subjects are your kid’s favorites. Stock their bedroom library well and increase the selection as they grow (again, you should have no problem there). Around age 8 you can start planting random books in their room each week to get them psyched to read on their own. For now, practice all the character voices.
Now, put it all together. Set regular times for naps and bedtime, and stick to them. Get them brushed, then move things to the bed before they’re yawning and rubbing their eyes. If you time it right, you can distract them with the book before they’re tired enough to get irritable, since that’s when the complaining is most likely to begin. If you needed added incentive, think of it this way: It’s a lot easier to schedule sex if your kids are on their own schedule.