My sister thinks I am stuck on routine; that I force it on my child. She isn't judging, just observing. She has a child 1 year younger than Weapon X, so she often takes notes on the way we handle situations. I see how it can seem that way. The reality is Weapon X forces a routine on us.
Occasionally we try to depart from the ritual. We put X to bed late, or push his nap back an hour for special occasions. Sometimes we even skip bath time (and he ends up with sand in his crib :) We always pay a price for these indiscretions, usually in the form of a full day of a screaming, needy child.
So the reality is, X put US on a schedule. Not the other way around. For a 16 month old toddler, it helps him feel secure when he knows what is happening next. What happens between meals/naps is freeform, but naps and meals serve as landmarks that he can expect at the same time everyday. This is what our schedule looks like:
Between 6 and 7:30 am - Wake up, lounge if it is early, change diaper, wake up Daddy, take vitamins, make breakfast, eat with Daddy while Mommy gets dressed, brush teeth, moisturize (X has Eczema), get dressed, pack lunch, and walk to school.
Between 7:30 and 8 am - Get to school and play. On the weekends, we go to the park.
10:00 am on Saturdays - Go to the grocery store. X usually snacks while we shop.
11:00 am - Eat lunch.
11:30 am - Nap
1:00 pm - Wake up and play
2:30 pm - Snack
5:00 pm - Mommy or Daddy picks up X and we play on the school playground with friends
5:30 pm - Cook Dinner
6:00 pm - Eat Dinner
6:30 pm - Bath time, moisturize, brush teeth, jammies, story, kiss Daddy, pick stuffed animal to sleep with, lights off
7:00 pm - Nurse to sleep.
X is an erratic sleeper, and I do not subscribe to the Cry It Out method, so I usually go sleep with him on the futon in the nursery between 10:30 and 11 pm.
In the end, we try to be flexible to X's needs everyday. The schedule is really just a reflection of those needs. If X is tired, hungry, sick or hurt we respond no matter what time it is.