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. Maybe you’re not a “schedule person.” Well, neither am I! I love spontaneity, and my hubby swears that “forgetful” is my middle name. Yep, I’m one of those people who routinely stares into an open refrigerator trying to remember what I’m looking for.
Nonetheless, I’ve found that having a schedule or routine is essential to finding success as a stay-at-home-mom. Let me share the daily toddler schedule that works for me. Sure, my day is largely based around the needs of my little guy. 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 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
- Homeschool Preschool Routine
(Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products I know and love!)
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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
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. Try for a little protein plus a slow carb. Or if your kiddo only wants crackers, go with crackers. There are bigger fish to fry.
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.
11:30-12:00 Lunch at last. 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 around here. 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. Want my step-by-step gameplan for limiting screen time and encouraging this creative play? Get the Unplug + Unlock eBook here!
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, 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.
Here’s the kicker… every toddler routine is different. You can get your toddler on a schedule, I promise!
Make a plan. Plan to be flexible. Plan for slow moments. You’ve got this mama!
Share with us, what are the best or most difficult parts of your toddler’s routine?