If you’re a mom at home with your kids and have NO idea what to do with them all day, here’s a peek into my daily schedule with a baby and toddler. Plus, grab some freebies to make your own!
Today I wanna give you a glimpse into a typical day at our house. As a SAHM, I get the question alot, “What do y’all do all day??” Ha! Great question!
My personality is one that loves structure, so I love having a daily schedule or routine for my kids to help organize and structure our day with purpose.
Now, full disclosure: for the last year we haven’t been on much of a schedule due to so many new changes (new baby, hubby’s new job, living with in-laws, new home…) and I feel like we’ve kind of just been living in limbo day-to-day.
Now that’s we’re in our house and settled, we’re able to have some structure again…and our days have been SO much better!
I have a 3-year-old (Lincoln) and a 1-year-old (Goldie), so I’m still learning how to mix and match their different needs in a scheduled setting. So our schedule sometimes gets tweaked…and that’s ok! It’s not about being rigid. It’s about making the most of your time with your children each day.
3 Reasons I Use a Daily Schedule
1. Kids thrive on routine.
There’s tons of research out there that proves that kids thrive on routine, and as a former 1st-grade teacher of 20+ kids, I can totally attest to that!
Kids are less likely to give you a hard time with tasks throughout the day if they know it’s coming. And they know it’s coming because that’s what they do evvvvveryday.
For example, naptime in our house ALWAYS follows lunch….like right after lunch. They eat lunch, potty, nap.
Of course there are times when that isn’t possible, and we just roll with it. But for the most part, naps always follow lunch. And you know what? We’ve never had naptime struggles with my 3-year-old. Because it’s the same every day, and he knows what to expect. It’s never a surprise.
2. Having a schedule keeps me accountable as a mom.
Instead of staring into the wide abyss of the day ahead and struggling to entertain my kids or resorting to cartoons all day, I now have a guide that basically helps me be more intentional with my kids. So it’s as much for me as it is them.
3. I can set aside times for work and chores.
When we don’t follow a schedule, I find myself stressed out trying to find time to complete personal tasks or housework throughout the day whenever there’s a spare moment. What I find, is that I’m usually neglecting my kids to catch up on my obligations.
With a schedule, I have times built it for those kinds of things (I’ll detail that in our schedule) so I can be fully present with my kids without being preoccupied with my to-do list.
What Daily Activities Are Important to You?
Before you sit down and make your own schedule, figure out what daily activities are important for you and your kids. Independent time? Chores? Playtime with siblings?
Once you figure that out, you basically already have a skeleton for your schedule (along with breakfast, lunch, dinner, nap, bathtime, etc) and you’re just figuring out how to arrange it.
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For me, there are 5 daily activities that are important that I try to incorporate every day. I’ll also underline them in my schedule.
- Bible Story/Devotional or Character Lesson
- My “one little word” for this year is sow, and it’s about taking the time to actually teach my children Godly character and how to be decent humans. It could be a story from the Bible, a devotional, or just a conversation about the importance of sharing.
- 1-on-1 Time
- Lincoln is 3 and has always been suuuuuper needy. And when I don’t make time to give him focused attention daily, I notice a major change in his behavior. He’s more defiant, disobedient…and basically just a little turd. But when he gets that undivided attention from me, his love tank is filled and he’s a much happier (and obedient) child. It’s a little easier with Goldie since she’s only 1, but she gets her little bit of 1-on-1 time too.
- This time with him is spent doing whatever he wants: playing outside, building blocks, playing doctor….but 9 times out of 10 it’s reading books.
- Learning Time
- My kids aren’t even close to being in public school, but I do want to have a time where we can sit down and learn and play together. I use the Pre-School activities from Busy Toddler during this time, and we love it! We might also throw in some fun seasonal or Pinterest activities. It’s just a time we can learn and play.
- Independent Play
- I think it’s super important for kids to learn how to entertain themselves…for their development and my sanity. Unfortunately Lincoln is the complete opposite of independent and would follow me around all day long, getting into all the things he’s not supposed to if I let him. But we’re slowly building toward more independent time, and he’s getting better. We started small with 10 minutes and have now worked our way up to 30 minutes….and full transparency, it’s still kind of hit or miss. He spends this time in the playroom, his room, or outside doing his own thing.
- Sibling Play
- I’m basically determined to make my kids be best friends. Not even kidding. So I try to set time aside where they can play with each other, without me. It’s more for Lincoln’s benefit because he has to learn how to share, and how to show self-control when she takes a toy from him, knocks down his tower, or just a general nuesance to him.
Our Daily Schedule
I want to show you our daily schedule, but it’s important to note that this is what works for our family (right now)…but this will most definitely change as the kids grow and change. If your day looks completely different than this, that’s totally ok! Each family is different, has different needs, and ultimately this is about making the most of your day with your kids.
Some days we may not get to do all of these things, and some days the times are pushed way back. Or sometimes we have a slow morning with extra ‘toons because of a late night the night before. Between the drafting of this post and the publishing, we had a super rough afternoon and I just turned on cartoons all afternoon to give myself some sanity. Just be flexible (and forgiving) and do what works best for you and your family.
7:00-8:00 Wake Up/Bible Time/Cartoons
- Lincoln has an OK To Wake Clock that is set for 7:00 am, so he knows not to get up before then. Goldie is usually up sometime before 8:00.
8:00-9:00 Make & Eat Breakfast.
- When breakfast is over, the kids go play until about 9ish (only about 10-15 minutes).
- While they’re playing, I clean up the kitchen after breakfast and maybe toss a load of laundry in the washer.
9:00-9:30 Get Dressed & Out the Door
- Lincoln get’s himself dressed now…hallelujah! So I’m really just getting Goldie dressed and making sure I’ve got my diaper bag packed.
- We try to get out of the house most mornings. It really helps break the day up for us. Mondays we grocery shop, Wednesdays we have Bible study, and the other days we may run errands, go to the park, have a playdate, go for a long walk, etc.
- IF we are home (due to weather or whatever reason), it truly is every man for himself. 😄 It’s usually super unstructured and is super frustrating…that’s why we try to get out daily. BUT if it’s raining or storming, we totally use that as an excuse to build a fort and watch movies all morning. #letthembelittle
11:30ish-2:00ish Lunch and Naps
- I bust out whatever means possible to make sure both Lincoln and Goldie take a nap at the same time. That’s why we love going out in the mornings: she can usually catch a catnap in the car, and she’s usually exhausted by the time we get home and is ready to pass out. If we’re home in the mornings, she’s ready for a nap at like 10, and then they end up staggering naps. Nooooooo!
- I try to reserve naptime for working on Her Happy Home. It’s the one chunk of time that I know I can work undistracted. So I use this time to work on the blog, social media, collaboration, etc. I save housework or other “to-do’s” for other times of the day that I’ve set aside.
- If one wakes up before the other, then we have some 1-on-1 time until the other one is awake.
2:00ish-3:00 Learning Time
- My 3-year-old, 1-year-old, and I are all in the playroom for most of this time. Goldie kind of does her own thing and plays around, while Lincoln and I do our Busy Toddler lesson. We do have to take a few breaks for Goldie when she starts getting fussy, but we just go with it.
3:00-3:30 Snack and Sibling Play
- After our afternoon snack, the kids go and play together. It’s still a work in progress because Goldie will leave to come find me after about 5 or 10 minutes.
- During this time I try to catch up on any housework that needs to be done. Laundry, cleaning, you know….all that fun stuff.
3:30-4:00 Walk to Check the Mail/ Play Outside
- We have to walk a short distance to check the mail, so I take Goldie in the stroller and Lincoln rides his scooter. Then we either take a short walk or come home and play outside. But this is Texas, so it gets hottttttttt….that’s why it’s only 30 minutes.
4:00-4:30 Lincoln’s Independent Play & Goldie’s 2nd Nap
- Goldie usually takes a second nap around this time, about 45 minutes.
- During independent play, Lincoln can play outside, his room, or the playroom. I’m trying to train him to be truly independent during that time, and not call me every 3 minutes to come “Look at this!”. We’re still working on it…but getting better!
- During this time I’m catching up on housework or finishing up my to-do list for the day.
4:30-5:00 1-on-1 Time with Lincoln
- It’s Lincoln’s choice of activity…which is usually reading books.
5:00-5:30 Dinner Prep
- I used to try to prep for dinner when the kids were napping, but it’s totally a missed opportunity for teachable moments! Lincoln either “helps” me with dinner or he does some sort of activity on the kitchen island (usually watercolors or puzzles) while I’m cooking.
- Goldie usually wakes up around this time, and I just put her in her high chair and give her a little snack until we’re finished up in the kitchen.
5:30-6:00ish Screen Time
- Starting at about 5:30 I let Lincoln watch cartoons until his daddy gets home, and I don’t feel bad about it. I used to have major mom guilt and feel super self-conscious about “how much” TV was appropriate for him to watch…but “no” to all that! The way I see it: you’re only a kid once. So yeah, you can watch a few cartoons at the end of a busy day. Isn’t that what we, as adults, like to do too? Binge on Netflix at the end of the night?? Also, if that’s something that makes the end of the day a little bit smoother for you, why not?
- I get questions about what TV shows we watch. I love PBS shows! They’re cute and educational, and we ALL love them. Our faves are Daniel Tiger, Wild Kratts, and Sesame Street (of course).
6:00-7:00 Dinner and Bathtime
- I try to bathe them together, but that doesn’t always work out.
- Goldie usually goes to bed at about 6:45/7:00
7:00-8:00 Lincoln and Daddy Time
- My husband is a rockstar and totally takes over at this point. He and Lincoln do their thing, and I’m usually cleaning the kitchen after dinner, catching up on any Her Happy Home stuff I didn’t get to finish that day, or even *gasp* take a hot shower!
8:00 Lincoln’s Bedtime
- Lincoln is in bed by 8:00…so we start his bedtime routine at about 7:45 (and by “we”, I mean Chase). That’s jammies, brush teeth, potty, and a bedtime story.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few tips and tricks that might help you in your daily schedule with your kids.
- Use a timer or alarm to prepare them for an activity….especially the ones they have a hard time with. “The timer is going to go off in 15 minutes, and then it’s time for independent play.”
- Use a timer or alarm to signal when they’re done with an activity. If Lincoln’s playing independently, I’ll say “Ok, I told Alexa to set the alarm for 4:30, so when you hear it, independent play is over and you can come see mommy.”
- Plan for things they like to do after things they don’t really like….sort of as an incentive. For example, maybe snack time after sibling play is a good incentive for them to play nicely together. Or screen time after independent play? Give them something to look forward to.
- After you figure out what daily activities you want to incorporate every day, put them in your schedule by order of importance. Bible time is super important to us, so it’s the first thing. That way I know we’ll get to that every day. Put your least important activities toward the end of the day….just in case you don’t get to it that day.
- During your morning outing, if you’re going to a playdate, park, or something that lends to you bringing your kids’ lunch…..do it! Pack a lunch to eat out, because they might try to doze in the car if it’s been an action-packed morning. That way when you get home, you don’t have to worry about lunch..they can go straight to bed. We do this ALL the time.
- I said it earlier, but I think it’s important. Be flexible. Although we use this as a daily guide, every day ends up being slightly different, and we’ve never been able to follow our schedule to a T. Just go with the flow and do what feels right to you and your fam.
Ready to Make Your Own?
If you want to make a daily schedule for your kids (but are still a little unsure how to do it), I’ve put together some worksheets to help you get started! The best part? They’re free….yay! Just click below to grab your own.
Do you have a daily schedule that you follow with your kids? If so, I’d LOVE to see it! I’m always borrowing ideas from other moms….because we surely can’t do this alone!