Toddlers understand only one time frame, now! They have little concept of the future until they are much older so if it is not happening right here right now then it may as well not be a thing.
As I try not to have my schedule completely dictated to by children this can course numerous ructions. The promise of doing something later in exchange for doing something else now falls on deaf ears.
Therefore managing a toddler is all about managing their time expectations, and as mentioned they have none.
Instead how we deal with the Feliciraptor is by framing all conversations in the present. Rather than telling her about what we are going to do later we have to use present tense as much as possible.
Getting to bed is a number of steps but we try to talk about it as though it is one continuous process. Instead of saying “we will get dressed then read a book” we talk about them being one and the same “let’s get dressed and read a book”.
If she isn’t getting into her pyjama’s and is demanding a story we ask “how can we read if we are not ready for bed”. It’s a leap in logic but her toddler brain seems to accept this as a fact.
If she is crying because she wants to see Mommy while we are driving home then I don’t tell her “we’ll see her later” I say “we’re going to see Mommy now”. As we are doing the thing she wants it is easier to understand than an abstract point in the future.
Living in the now mentality is hard as we need to consider how we can present our actions to our instant gratification child. Take going to the toilet, if we announce that we are going she needs to go and go first.
I need to go now!
To manage this we are having to teach her “maybe” as in “maybe later”. Being stuck in the now means that any current demands can be forgotten. Maybe having a biscuit later currently means we don’t have to go in the cupboard, or at least for the time being (I’m sure this will change when she is older).
Not having a sense of the future also means we can make some long term deals that are in our benefit. For a yogurt we’ve already given up the rights to a pony, and a college education was given up for a pack of stickers.