Toddler Schedule: A Real Life Example [plus tips for creating your own]

Sample Toddler Schedule

Some days with toddlers are super hectic while others are easy and mellow.

But certainly never dull.

Toddlers are quite unpredictable. One moment they are running around happily when a minute later their world seems to be coming to an end.

To help them out to deal with their big emotions, rapid growth and constant need for discovery, it is a good practice to keep a steady rhythm in our children’s day.

How so?




When toddlers get used to a certain routine and know what to expect, they are much easier to be around. Their meltdowns happen less often and they are simply able to enjoy themselves.

Therefore today, I am going to show you what our day with twin toddlers look like. Hopefully, a look into another family’s life can serve you as an inspiration.

Toddlers unplugged

Sample Toddler ScheduleOur children do not watch television. They do not own their own devices such as tablets. Nor we have many battery operated toys (we have two to be exact).

Now I am not saying that they’ll never watch TV or play on computers. But at the moment I don’t find them developmentally necessary or appropriate.

There are many good reasons to keep young children unplugged. I am not going to give you a checklist right now, nor try to persuade you to do the same.

It is simply our lifestyle and preference.

But I hope we can at least show you, that a day without television or screen time is possible and do-able even in the technology-driven world.

 

If you are interested in reading more about toddlers, make sure to check out these other blog posts on Planes & Balloons:

Morning

Note: all times are approximate since every day is a little bit different. 

We usually wake up around 7-7:30 am.

This used to be much earlier, so I am glad I finally get to sleep in.

Morning diapering, washing, and dressing are followed by breakfast at around 8 am.

Afterward, my boys usually play on their own while I tidy up after breakfast, clean the kitchen and drink my morning cup of coffee.

It doesn’t always go so smoothly. Sometimes they get grumpy and want me to be with them more than other times. In that case, we do our reading time first and then I clean up.

Our typical morning activities include reading, outside time, listening to music & dancing around and snack time. Some mornings we go to story time at a library.

Reading

Sample Toddler ScheduleWe are huge fans of reading. It is a #1 activity in our house for sure.

Even during their playtime, while I am doing housework or cooking, my little guys “read” on their own. We laugh because on many of their pictures they are surrounded by books.

If your toddler has a hard time staying still or doesn’t enjoy books that much, read my other article Tips and tricks for reading with toddlers for useful suggestions.

Music

Toddlers love music and strong rhythms. Dancing around is so much fun and helps to burn some of that toddler energy.

In addition, I try to play instruments in front of them whenever I can. We have a guitar and I play and sing songs to them(I am not that good, but they love it! For now, anyway). Sometimes I take out our old keyboard and let them explore by touching different keys and make different sounds.

For Christmas, I got them the Melissa & Doug Caterpillar Xylophone. We all love it! I have learned to play many nursery rhymes on it since then and we play those as well. Plus boys really enjoy just banging the mallets and playing their own masterpieces.

Outside time

Sample Toddler ScheduleWe are lucky to live in sunny SoCal. The weather stays nice and warm for most of the year.

I am a huge nature lover and I would like my boys to grow in love and reverence for nature as well.

Therefore, we go outside as much as we can.

In the morning, we head outside at around 10 am.

We switch between different playgrounds, go for a walk around the block, or go to a nearby hiking trail.

Often we explore the “unkept” areas, where boys can experience something different than perfectly cut grass and maintained parks.

I let them touch and explore almost everything.

We pick up rocks, pine cones, touch and “stroke” tree barks, chase after little birds, sniff flowers, etc. There is always something to do outside, even without toys and special equipment.

Our boys enjoy it very much. They get to exercise this way, their appetite increases and they take their naps willingly and happily afterward.




Snack time

After we return home, it is usually snack time.

Depending on how big their breakfast was, this can be anything from banana&avocado mix to a bowl of soup with toast.

I make sure they drink their water as well.

Nap time

Sometime around 12 pm, our boys take their nap.

They used to nap twice a day until 16-months-old. This naturally changed to one nap a day.

They stay asleep anywhere between one to two, rarely even three hours.

Sample Toddler Schedule

Sample Toddler Schedule

Afternoon

Since they sleep so well, I have plenty of time for other things that need to be done around the house.

In our family, lunch is the hot meal of the day. Which means we eat for lunch what others usually have for dinner.

Crock-pot has literally become my best friend since having kids. I make most of our food in it.

I either prepare everything the night before and let it cook overnight or I stuff it with meat and veggies in the morning. Either way, lunch is always ready by the time the boys wake up.

Our lunchtime is around 1 or 2 pm.

Afternoon activities

And what do we do later in the day?

Sample Toddler ScheduleAfter lunch we have reading time again, we do some arts&crafts occasionally, we go outside or to the library.

Our local library is amazing!

Not only they have a huge section of children’s books, they also have a discovery area for little ones as well as outdoor play area.

There are toys that kids usually get to play with only in a daycare center or pre-school. So we are very lucky to have these readily available to us.

Afternoon snack

In my article Toddler Eating Schedule: A Straightforward Guide to How Often and How Much I mentioned the American Academy of Pediatric’s guidelines which say that toddlers should get three meals and two snacks during the day.

This is not always the case at our house.

On some days we follow these, on others, we have four regular meals instead of three meals/two snacks.

The way toddler’s appetite works is so individual, that we parents really need to stay flexible and sensitive to our children’s needs.

I also make sure the boys don’t stuff themselves before dinner.

In case they are hungry and have a big afternoon snack, I don’t expect them to eat big at dinner time. It all works out.

I normally serve them fruit or cooked veggies for a snack in the afternoon, but it can also be peanut butter sandwich or some plain crackers.




Evening

Dinner is normally at 6 pm.

It is pretty simple and easy. Sometimes boys have plain yogurt with fruit, other times a ham or turkey sandwich. They also enjoy a bowl of cream of wheat or oatmeal for dinner.

Everybody is tired by the time evening comes. There are no bedtime battles for now.

After dinner we play some more, read for the last time and then head upstairs.

Once upstairs, we follow our evening routine of brushing teeth, bath (if it is a bath night), pajamas, cuddles, and bedtime.

Our boys are usually fast asleep by 7:30 pm.

Our favorite activities

Sample Toddler ScheduleWe get to play and do a whole lot of other things. Not every day is the same.

On days we have plans outside the house, the schedule is kind of messed up. But we manage anyway.

Other things we like to do:

  • play bubbles
  • paint with watercolors
  • draw with pencils (no crayons at the moment, since they bite them off)
  • play with playdough
  • explore in the kitchen
  • look out the window and watch everything that’s going on
  • play with stickers
  • push each other around in Tonka truck
  • ride our rocking horse
  • play with push toys (puppy on a stick)
  • build with Mega blocks
  • play with toy farm animals
  • draw with chalk outside
  • sand play in our DIY sandbox
  • play with our dogs
  • play in the kitchen occasionally

Toys we enjoy the most:

  • Tonka truck and a rocking horse (absolute favorites!)
  • nesting cups & stacking rings
  • cars
  • puzzles
  • spinning top
  • bead maze
  • tunnel
  • finger puppets
  • Mega blocks

Tips for developing schedule that fits your needs

It can be inspiring to read about other people’s routines and daily activities. But there is no need to stress if your day looks completely different. Every family has their own needs and preferences.

Therefore it is best to develop a routine that works best for you and your child.

Here are a few simple ideas to help you out:

1. Do you have a busy social life?

We are all somewhat different in our social needs and opportunities.

If you have many friends with young children and you like to get together often, great! Try to suggest a certain time and days of the week for playdates or outings.

But if you, on the other hand, are a bit lonely with your little one, try searching Meetup for playgroups in your area. You’ll get to talk to grown-ups once in a while as oppose to kids all day long and your child will make friends and learn to be more social.

Another amazing organization is called MOMS Club International. It serves to thousands of stay-at-home moms around the world with their many meetings, seminars, playgroups and more. They are definitely worth the try!




 2. Do you have any weekly obligations?

If you have any commitments outside the house, make sure to implement them into your daily schedule.

Your child might need to stay with a babysitter once a week or instead of mommy giving a bath, it is the dad who does. Predictability can go a long way for young toddlers.

3. Plan your day around naps & lunch time

Lunch and nap usually go hand in hand. Your toddler might get his lunch before he goes for his afternoon nap. Or like in our house, after he wakes up. Either way, try to schedule any appointments for times after or before (if you must).

I absolutely hate taking my boys anywhere by car in the morning. Why?

By the time we are heading back home, at least one of them snoozes off in his car seat. And there goes the nap of the day!

A missed nap = grumpy child = grumpy mama!

Those days are just torture for everybody.

4. Focus on following the sequence rather than specific time

Even though it is better to keep the schedule consistent and let’s say wake up at the same time every day, it doesn’t always happen. Just this morning we got up at 9 AM, which is absolutely out of ordinary!

If this happens to you, simply stick to the sequence of your schedule. That way your toddler can still follow what comes next.Sample Toddler Schedule

Sample Toddler Schedule

Things that keep me going

Toddlers, especially two of them at once, can be demanding.

Of course, there are days that I am exhausted and I don’t feel like doing anything with them.

But I am absolutely grateful for the opportunity to be at home with my children, watch them grow, learn and reach their milestones.

I find encouragement when I put things in perspective.

The time our children are this small and completely dependent on us is quite short. Soon enough they won’t want to hold my hand in public, nor kiss me good-night. Therefore I want to enjoy all the simple and little things as much as I can.

Being at home with my little boys also taught me to slow down and be present in the moment.

Little kids don’t think like we adults do.

We are so used to our fast-paced, information overload kind of days, that sitting and looking out the window for 15 minutes feels like an eternity.

But for our children, it can be the most fulfilling and fun activity ever.

2 Comments

  1. I need to get better about the TV! We have it on a lot but mostly because I need background noise. I need to pull out my bose wifi speaker more often because the kids rarely ask for the TV…it’s all me! I have a 1.5 year old and I nanny a 2 year old. They entertain each other a lot but lately their favorite ‘toys’ and activities include: blocks, toy cars, my lion king figures from when I was a kid, balls, velcro/felt fishing toy, a game of mancala has been entertaining my kid lately! We love going outside too. We keep some chalk and rubber ducks on our porch and my son will color and play with the bath toys as well as the pine cones or ‘gum drops’ that fall off the pine trees! We try to get out for our daily ‘field trip’ in the mornings because of the traffic where we live. Plus the girl I nanny for gets picked up at 4:45. They nap until 3 sometimes so that’s not a long window for going out! Looks like I need to do a similar post haha I apparently have a lot of thoughts on the subject! I loved reading about your day!

    • When I need some “background noise” I usually put music on. I suppose I am lucky I was never a big tv person in the first place. But I get it. We moms need to stay in touch with the “adult world” one way or the other.
      I have been thinking about the fishing toy too. Good to hear your kiddos like it! We also started using chalk outside and it doesn’t seem to get old!
      Definitely, write about your daily routine! You have already offered ideas to me even with this one comment. I am sure other moms would find it useful as well.

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