Inside: Feel like your day starts and ends in chaos? Life with toddlers can get crazy. Thankfully, there are a few easy steps you can take to bring calm to your day. Start with this simple daily toddler schedule!
Is today one of “those days?” You’ve been running ragged since you rolled out of bed this morning. The kids may or may not have brushed their teeth today.
There’s a half-washed load of wet towels slowly turning green in the washing machine. Now it’s 7:00 PM and you haven’t given one thought to dinner.
Sound familiar? You, my friend, are in need of a toddler schedule!
Schedules are so important for both kids and mamas. Especially if you’re a stay at home mom!
I’ve found that having a schedule or routine makes me feel successful and confident as a mom.
- Top 10 Best Planners for Moms to Keep you Sane!
Let me share the daily toddler schedule that works for me!
Sure, my day is largely based around the needs of my child. Honestly, though, I carve out time for me, too! Take a look at the key elements to help both you and your toddler thrive on a schedule.
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Overwhelmed at home with your baby, toddler, or preschooler? I can help! Download my Everyday Calm eBook and Printable Pack Bundle, and learn super simple mindsets and routines to conquer the chaos at home with kids.
Daily Toddler Schedule Key #1: Plan to be Flexible
In my experience, the key creating a daily toddler routine is planning ahead, but also planning to be flexible.
For example, if we go to story time at the library, it’s perfectly OK that my toddler snacks a little earlier so that his tummy isn’t running on empty (because have you ever tried to get a hungry two-year old to listen to the nice lady read a book?).
Or, if he happens to wake up earlier, we can always move his nap up a bit too.
Toddlers are creatures of habit.
But they’re not robots!
The important part is that your little one knows what they can expect. Toddlers who know what to expect are more confident, less whiny, and definitely more fun to be around! (You could also say the same of mamas. I need a schedule too!)
Guess, what? Your don’t have to let the weekend ruin a great routine, either! Read how I rock a weekend toddler routine, too.
Daily Toddler Schedule Key #2: Plan for Slow Moments
Life with a toddler can get downright crazy. Toddler are little balls of electricity wrapped up in tiny yet powerful packages.
Toddlers are exhausting.
Moms of toddlers are exhausted.
If you find yourself constantly on the run with your toddler, it may be time to slow down.
Make time to take it slow, even in your busy stay at home mom schedule.
The best parts of our day don’t happen when we’re on schedule to the minute. They don’t happen when we watch the clock. They don’t happen when we’re busy running around doing all the things. Even if they’re good things!
No, the best moments, those slow, small moments of connection, they sneak up when I stop doing things with my child and start focusing on just being with my child.
As you work out a routine for your toddler, add margin in your day to let connection and joy seep in!
How do I get my toddler on a schedule?
Where do you start when it comes to creating a toddler routine?
- First, map out your toddler’s sleep needs. When should he nap and go to bed?
- Next, mark down eating times. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus two healthy snacks will keep your toddler from hunger-related tantrums!
- Then, as you look through our toddler schedule, start to think about your day in blocks of time.
A realistic, sustainable schedule needs both together time and independent time.
What does this mean? Simply plan for blocks of time where you will actively be with your child (morning play time, meals, errands, etc.).
And also plan for blocks of time where you and your child will do things independently (nap time, independent play time, quiet time, etc.).
Thinking in these blocks helps balance your day so that you aren’t constantly worn out. Plus, teaching your child to be a self-starter and skillful at independent play is one of the best ways to raise independent, self-starting adults!
Here’s the key: Having a daily routine doesn’t mean that you’ll be planning out how to entertain your child all day long!
That’s not sustainable, and really it’s not in your child’s best interest, either.
Daily Toddler Schedule Timeline
With that in mind, here’s what a typical daily toddler schedule looks like for us.
Update: I’m now using this toddler routine for my daughter! It works just as well for her as it did with my son. She gets the rest she needs and we have tons of one-on-one time together while big brother is at school. The only difference is that we wake up about 6:45 to get ready in time for school.
- 7:30 Want a great start for the day? Wake up your toddler with your favorite song. It really does help set a good mood for the day.
- 7:45- 8:15 Breakfast. Our favorites: oatmeal with peanut butter, sausage links with fruit, peanut butter toast and applesauce.
- 8:30- 9:00 Quick clean-up with Mommy. Start a load of laundry, finish the breakfast dishes, etc. Morning is my most motivated time of day, so I know if I start laundry now I’ll have less of an excuse to not finish it later.
- 9- 11:00 Do something! Play at the park, go to the library, get outside for a walk, do something that makes you and your toddler feel good and gets you both out of the house. Think gross motor play. Did you know that toddlers need 60-90 minutes of active play per day? (source) This is a great time to get them moving!
- 10:30 Snack time! Somewhere in that morning playtime, be sure to offer a snack.
- 11:00 Clean up, take a bath if necessary. I make lunch while my son looks at books or plays with blocks. I love toys like this that keep him engaged while I’m busy. If I have laundry to fold, I will fold it really quick. This is a great time for independent play.
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- 11:30-12:00 Lunch time! Menus of choice at our house are quesadillas with beans and spinach, or chicken and green beans, PBJ sandwiches, or leftovers.
- 12- 2:00 or 3:00 Nap for the kiddo. My little dude will usually nap anywhere from 2-3 hours. Quick tip? Invest in a video monitor. (This is the one we use and it’s worked for two years without any issues.)
- What’s on my to do list during nap time? I knock out my freelancing jobs, blogging, business tasks, any cleaning that requires chemicals. Or if I’m lucky… I nap! Nap time is your independent time. Do something to fill up your bucket! Or try one of these fulfilling hobbies for stay at home moms!
- After Nap- 4:00 Inside play, imaginative play, arts and crafts, reading, or tot school stuff. Think fine motor play.
- I love using “Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready” for weekly activities. This book provides challenging and age-appropriate weekly activities from birth all the way up to age five. The activities are easy to prep and I only have to focus on one new thing per week. I highly recommend this resource!
- 4:00 Ah, snack time again! Now is a good time to get something colorful on their plate. Broccoli or peppers with ranch dip, apples dipped in peanut butter, or grapes and cheese are favorites for my toddler.
- 4:30- 5:30 Free play for your kiddo: blocks, train, cars, dolls, or anything they love so much that they can play independently. Steal my step-by-step game plan to limit screen time and encourage creative play!
Need expert sleep help? If you’re struggling with naps or need a more in-depth sleep plan, I highly recommend the book “The Happy Sleeper” by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright. This book is a mama-friendly, child-friendly, science-backed, and practical guide for helping your baby sleep well at night and for naps. A friend of mine recommended it to me, and I’m passing on the favor! It’s saved my sanity more than once!
- 5:30 Dinner prep. Reading or more free play for the little one.
- 6:00 Daddy’s home! Are you ready to rumble? It’s wrestling and rough housing time! Also, my son is always thrilled to play cars with someone who can make a decent engine sound (not me).
- 6:30- 7:00 Dinner. My toddler eats whatever we eat, just cut into bite sized pieces.
- 7-8:00 Bath in the tub, play with our favorite foam letters and boats, PJs, books on the couch, then family devotion on mommy and daddy’s bed.
- 8:00 A few more books. Lights out. Prayer (try praying Psalm 19!). Kisses, kisses, kisses. “I love you and Daddy loves you and Jesus loves you” Sweet dreams!
Need a plan? You can get your toddler on a schedule, I promise! I go into more detail and solve your scheduling problems in my helpful eBook Everyday Calm. I’ve also included tons of printables for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers so you can jump right in to making those positive changes!
That’s our daily toddler schedule and stay at home mom routine! It may seem predictable, but predictable is good. Toddlers crave this predictability to help them navigate transitions and manage their day, and even manage those big emotions.
Here’s the kicker… every daily toddler routine is different. Take these tips and ideas, and make them your own!
- 10 Crazy Simple Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers
- Try this Simple Strategy to Handle Toddler Bedtime Tantrums!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I hope this sample toddler schedule will help you feel more confident!
Here’s a quick step-by-step reminder to help you get started. Be sure to grab that free printable from our parenting resource library!
How to Make a Daily Toddler Schedule
- Make sleep a priority.
Write down your child’s sleep needs first.
- Plan for meals and snacks.
Map out when your child needs to eat.
- Plan for together time with your child.
Make room to spend slow moments together!
- Allow for independent play time.
Teach your child to play independently so you can have a break!
You’ve got this mama! I hope our daily toddler schedule helps you get your toddler’s routine back on track so you can really enjoy your days together!
Let’s connect! Share with us, what are the best or most difficult parts of your toddler’s routine? Or, what helps you feel confident about your daily schedule?
Boys, especially, like order, although they wouldn’t be able to explain it at this age. Order brings predictability, so they can use their brain to think about other ideas besides having enough food and enough love.
Thanks for this. New sahm here and I am typically super organized but am in “vacation” mode right now. I don’t think it’s quite set in that this is fully real life and I don’t have to go to work on Monday. hahaha So this will help me get my butt in gear and out of pjs. lol
You’re welcome McKenzie! I was totally in the same boat when I was a new SAHM. It does take a while to set in. Congrats and best of luck on your new adventure! I know you’re going to rock it 🙂
This is great! I love how practical you are with your daily activity instructions. I’m going to keep you in mind for a future guest post on StartaMomBlog.com 😉 If you want to!
Thank you Suzi! I’m a big fan of your website as well. Thanks for the kind words 🙂
I love this.
Definitely reassures that I’m doing the right things with my son but I don’t have it written down.
Now I will write it down and have a visual schedule.
Great Alexandra! Don’t worry, and don’t forget to give yourself a little grace now and then too 🙂 I know you’re doing awesome!
Ideas on what to do if your little one doesn’t nap any longer? My son is 3 1/2 and I’m having a hard time filling in that time where nap used to be.
That’s a great Kristen. My little guy is only 2 1/2 right now so he still naps right now. However I have heard from lots of moms with older toddlers to try to keep that time as quiet time. Maybe have a special box of quiet toys such as felt play or quiet fine motor activities? You could only pull out that box during quiet time. Maybe aim for like 30 minutes at first and try to stretch it out longer if you can after that? Hope this helps!
Ooh I had another idea! You can find some great children’s audiobooks on story nory.com or on audible. Make it a time to practice listening to a story. Set up a comfy area with pillows and stuffed animals in your child’s room and set up a audio story for them to listen to!
Oh wow! Bravo… Just really getting into toddlerhood and finding she is so hard to entertain at home! We live in a small small town so the out of the house activities are super limited. I started a play group at church which fills one morning! We usually field trip out of town for another… but 3 mornings a week we struggle to not be lazy and watch PBS … really going to shoot to find more of a routine like this!
Love it! You can do it Payton 🙂 Everyday won’t be perfect, but it will be worth it!
Oh my gosh! This was so helpful. I’ve been trying to get on a schedule with my 21 month old but I just keep feeling like I’m doing it all wrong. You’re blog showed me I’m already on the right path and pretty much do everything you posted.
Anyway, thank you for helping me not feel so lost and alone.
You’re so welcome Charity! I try to remember to give myself a little grace everyday. For me, it’s all about making a plan for success but being flexible if we need to spend more time in another area, or if a meltdown happens, or if you just need a snuggle break!
I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful this post is!! I have been struggling with a good routine for my toddler daughter and this definitely points me in the right direction! THANK YOU!
I’m so glad you found it helpful!
I LOVE all of this! I am so thankful to have found this. My situation is a little different. I am a nurse who works 36 hours every weekend. I do this so I can have my week with my kids. My second delima is trying to incorporate this AMAZING schedule with my 2 year old AND an infant. Would you have any tips on how I could fit my 3 month old into this also. I would really appreciate any and all advice.
Hi Bree! Absolutely, I’ve been thinking a lot about this since we recently found out we are expecting our second baby. One thing I am going to try to do is make sure my baby takes one of the afternoon naps at he same time as my three year olds’ long single nap. I also think one of the major strategies I’ll use is keeping them together as we work on activities. Let’s say we’re are working with our felt board, well baby can be exposed to all those brain building sensory experiences, while my toddler can be working on counting and shapes. I still think the same general schedule applies though. Get them both outside in the morning to set their internal clocks and wear them out. Baby can even nap in the stroller while you and your toddler take a nature walk or do something outside! Hope this helps! I’ll be in the same boat soon. 🙂
I love this laid back routine! I am so not a routine person, but I know we need something! TV has take over! I hope focusing on certain types of activities during different parts of the day, like you suggested, will help me to have a more intentional plan for the day! Thank you!
I’m so with you Aly! By the way, I’m releasing an online course later this month about how to unplug your toddler from screen time and really unlock their imagination. One of the lessons goes more into creating schedules and routines. I think it would be right up your alley! Be sure to sign up for my newsletters so I can send you a discount coupon code when I launch this course in a few weeks!
I love your toddler schedule- so simple and practical! Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been studying on routines for a couple of weeks now and yours took me from thinking about it to writing something down… now I just need to do it!
That’s great Erica! Go for it 🙂
Your video is very well done! I love how you spell everything out, and I agree that a schedule that plans for down time is great especially with toddlers. Toddlers do much better with a schedule. I love how you talk about the best moments come with just being with your child. That is GOLD!
I’m glad this post helped you Jennifer! Making time for slow moments in a toddler schedule keeps everyone more happy and joyful! Thanks for reading and watching 🙂
Ive submitted my email for the toddler schedule free printables, yet im not receiving anything in my email. Am 8 doing something wrong? I dont have a password to access your free downloads.
Hey Kristie! I do see that you signed up and the email was sent. Maybe check in your spam or promotions folder? Sometimes it gets stuck in there. If you don’t see it let me know and I will email you the password to our resource library!