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 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.
I’ve found that having a schedule or routine makes me feel successful and confident as a mom. 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.
Update: We’ve added a baby girl to the family! Check out these posts for more scheduling tips for particular ages:
- Newborn and Toddler/ Preschooler Schedule
- 3 Month Baby Schedule
- 6 Month Baby Schedule
- 9 Month Baby Schedule
- Homeschool Preschool Routine
(Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products I know and love!)
Overwhelmed at home with your baby, toddler, or preschooler? I can help! Download my Everyday Calm eBook and Printable Pack bundle, and learn simple mindsets and routines to conquer the chaos at home with kids.
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 routine, too.
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.
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!
Daily Toddler Schedule Timeline
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!
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.
With that in mind, here’s what a typical routine looks like for my toddler.
7:30 Want a great start for the day? Wake up your toddler with your favorite morning song. It really does help set a good mood for the day.
7:45- 8:15 Breakfast. Little J’s favorites: oatmeal with peanut butter (and a few chocolate chips, shhh…), sausage links with pears or other fruit, peanut butter toast and applesauce. (Or try this Vitamin C-packed smoothie I whipped up!)
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!
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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.
11:30-12:00 Lunch time! Menus of choice at our house are quesadillas with beans and spinach, or chicken and green beans, or… whatever is leftover from last night.
12-2:00/3:00 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.)
I can’t tell you the number of times my son has sat up after an hour and a half, talked to himself for a few minutes, then laid back down to sleep for another hour or so. My video monitor allows me to see if he’s really waking up, or just readjusting. So worth it!
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!
What’s on my to do list during nap time? Just your run of the mill nap time ninja stuff: 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!
2:00/3:00-4:00 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.
Picky eaters? Buy yourself a mini muffin tin and fill it with a variety of items, all of which are mom-approved. He’ll get the freedom of choice within the boundaries you choose. Everybody wins!
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!
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. He loves dipping things, so I try to make something dip-able when possible.
7-8:00 Bath in the tub, play with our favorite foam letters and boats, master class in how to get bath water on mommy, books on the couch with (a slightly damp) mommy, then family devotion on mommy and daddy’s bed.
8:00 Two (or 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 with teddy bear and Mr. Puppy.
That’s our daily toddler schedule! 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 toddler routine is different.
You can get your toddler on a schedule, I promise! I go into more detail and solve your scheduling problems in my 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!
- Make a plan. Grab that printable!
- Plan to be flexible.
- Plan for slow moments.
- Think in blocks of time. (Independent or Together Time?)
You’ve got this mama!
Share with us, what are the best or most difficult parts of your toddler’s routine?