Inside: Sharing our daily schedule with a baby and 2 kids at home – the changes we made to get us back on track!
Just when I’m getting comfortable with our present family schedule, life knows to throw new things my way. Again.
By new things, I mean a new baby.
At this stage, I’m really getting quite good at revising our schedule to accommodate changes. C’mon, I’m a mom of 3 now and this is probably the 57thtime I’m coming up with new family schedule.
Then BAM! A newborn comes along and our well-established family schedule gets thrown off completely.
I do not know anything else that can mess with our schedule as much as having a new baby in the house.
A newborn’s sleeping hours and feeding times are so erratic and unpredictable, at least for the first 3 months. As if mastering my baby’s daily routines was not enough, I have 2 more older kids with their own schedules and needs whom I need to cater for too!
Daily Schedule with a baby and 2 kids
I get this question all the time: "How do I survive at home with 2 kids and a baby?"
I remembered going into a panic attack when my husband’s paternity leave ended. It’s down to one adult in the house with 3 kids all wanting my attention! How am I going to take care of my baby, homeschool my children, get meals on the table and make sure everyone has clean clothes to wear on my own?
A year later, I lived to tell the tale. We can totally do this mamas.
My intention of sharing our daily schedule is not to show you the best way to do things. There is no one best schedule that works for everyone. The best schedule is one that works for your family. But I hope that by having a glimpse into a day in our life, you can find some ideas that might be helpful for your family.
My Advice to Moms
My three best pieces of advice to any moms who are navigating their new family life with a baby and older kids at home.
1) Take your time
Everything will seem like a mess at first. But take heart that this is a short phase of life. Give yourself and everyone in the house time because it takes time for:
- babies to establish their sleep and feeding patterns,
- everyone to get used to a new member in the house and
- the family to settle into a good rhythm once again.
With enough time, everything will fall back into place and life will feel ‘normal’ again.
Case in point, it took me 3 months before we found our new normal.
2) Let the (older) kids help themselves
Your toddler and preschooler can do a lot more than you can imagine. Give them the learning opportunities and create a child-friendly space for your older kids to complete tasks on their own.
Sure enough, we can do a better and faster job than our children. But if we do everything for them, will they ever learn to do things better and faster?
My hands are so full right now with the baby, I’m just glad that our earlier schedules have set up my older kids to be independent early on.
Related: This is our daily toddler schedule when my children are still toddlers. I shared how I managed the housework in the post too.
Now my 6yo and 4yo are mostly able to take care of their basic needs on their own (for example: taking shower, dressing themselves, helping themselves to snacks and fruits when they are hungry) and help with simple chores at home (for example: cleaning up toys, making their beds, washing paint brushes and palettes after an art activity, putting their dirty dishes in the kitchen sink after a meal, put dirty clothes in the laundry basket).
This quote by Maria Montessori says it all - “Help me to do it myself”
3) Let the baby join in the fun
Whenever baby is not napping, you can always find her hanging out with us. She’s usually on a mat beside us, in my carrier or on her bouncer chair. I try not to sneak away to tend to baby or nurse her. My 6yo and 4yo see that I am with them or baby sister is not taking mom away all the time. This definitely helps to assimilate and welcome baby sister into their daily life. My older children learn to accommodate baby sister’s needs, watch out for her and accept her as part of our family.
What has changed in our Daily Schedule with a baby
Here are some of the more significant changes we made since Abby joined our family:
- I do more meal preps and major housework during the weekends when my hubby is around to help. On Saturday morning, we will tackle the major housework together like mopping, changing bedsheets, cleaning the toilets etc. On Sunday afternoons, I will wash vegetables and fruits so they are ready for use right away during the week. I cook a large meal for Sunday dinner and freeze the leftovers so that we have some ready meals during the week.
- With three kids now, it takes more time to get everybody to bed. To give ourselves more grace time, we moved dinner time up by 30 minutes to 6.00pm. Hubby may still work late and come home after 6.00pm but I will get the kids and myself to eat dinner at 6.00pm. This gives us more time for bedtime routines.
- Our daily outings are shorter. We used to be out from 12.30 to 3.30pm. Most days, we do a shorter outing from 1 to 3pm and I choose venues that are nearer and familiar for us like parks, small museums or the library.
- I do not do any serious work for my blog during the day anymore. I used to be able to work 1 to 1.5 hour in the day. Right now, I used that time to bath Abby and nurse her. Making the choice to not work during the day has definitely made me a happier mom. There is no more conflict with my children and work. I can fully commit to take care of my children in the day and focus on my work at night.
How we are doing home learning with Baby Abby
Surprisingly, this part of our life hasn’t changed a lot. We are still doing interest led learning with our themed shelf. Our home learning still takes place for approximately 2 hours each morning.
This is a protected time, meaning I will not work on chores or blog but fully focus on teaching and playing with my children. The time varies day to day as it depends when Abby goes down for her first nap. Once Abby is napping, I join Zachary and Riley in our learning room. When Abby wakes up, she joins us.
The real challenge is with finding the time to prep for homeschool. For homeschool and my blogging to work, I chose to minimize and simplify the other aspects of our life so that our home learning is not compromised.
Some intentional choices I made include:
- go for easy and low prep learning activities and involve my children to prep for our monthly theme shelves
- cut back on working on my blog and social media (posting less and saying no to sponsors)
- reduce toys and clothes at home (less things mean less mess)
- prepare simpler meals during the week and cook bigger meals during weekends
- being more purposeful with how I spend my child-free time (staying razor focus on what I want to accomplish when my children are finally asleep).
Daily Schedule with a baby, 4yo and 6yo
Here’s how our typical weekday looks like right now. I like to think of the whole day as 3 big blocks of time (morning, afternoon and evening), broken up by the meal times.
Note: I breastfeed Abby exclusively on demand. The times in our schedule below are approximate times only. If she’s hungry, I will feed her.
6.30 AM: Zachary (6yo) wakes up and goes play in the learning room
7.00 AM: I wake up and have 15 minutes for myself to get ready for the day.
7.30 AM: Riley (4yo), Abby (4mo) and dad wake up. Zachary and RIley make their beds now. I empty the dishwasher and get breakfast ready.
8.00 AM: Everyone eats BREAKFAST together.
Morning (After breakfast)
8.30 AM: I clear the breakfast dishes right after breakfast. The children brush their teeth and change out of their pajamas. Dad goes to work. I nurse Abby and put her down for her first nap.
9.00 AM: Protected Home Learning Time. If Abby wakes up, she joins us in the Learning Room. If she’s hungry, I’ll nurse her during this time.
11.00 AM: I prep lunch while the big kids play on their own. If baby wakes up now, she plays with the big kids. If she fusses, I wear her in my carrier. Zachary and Riley do a quick clean up of their learning room.
11.30 AM: LUNCH
Afternoon (After lunch)
12.00 NOON: I clear the lunch dishes and pack the stuffs we need for the outing. I nurse Abby right before we leave the house.
1.00 PM: We leave the house for our daily outing. Abby takes her second nap in the car and in the carrier.
3.30 PM: Once home, Zachary and Riley take turns to have their shower. I nurse Abby. Then I do some dinner prep.
4.30 PM: Zachary and Riley have 45 minutes screen time. Abby gets her bath during this time. Then I nurse Abby and put her down for her last nap. I cook dinner while the big kids play together after their screen time (keeping finger crossed that Abby continues sleeping).
6.00 PM: Dad gets home. Abby wakes up. We eat DINNER together.
Evening (After dinner)
6.30 PM: We clear the dinner dishes. Children brush teeth and change to pajamas. Dad plays with the children while I take my shower. I get the clean clothes out of the dryer. Everyone do a quick cleanup of play area. I read to the children and tuck all three children to bed. Dad takes his shower. He puts the dirty laundry into the washing machine and folds the clean clothes.
8.00 PM I spend some time with hubby before getting ready to work.
9.00 PM My working hours begin!
12.00 Midnight: Bedtime for me. Baby Abby will wake up 1 to 2 times to nurse at night.
Now this is a lot of things going on here in a day!
Editable Daily Schedule for Kids Spreadsheet
If you are a table person like me, I got good news for you! I organized all the events and tasks into an excel spreadsheet to give you a good overview of our whole day. With this battle plan, I know what to work on right away at each time and my husband knows how/when he can help too.
This Daily Schedule spreadsheet is on my subscriber-only Printable Page. Join my mailing list and get this spreadsheet. >>Join now >>
How to use this Daily Schedule for Kids Spreadsheet
Your schedule is likely going to look different from mine thus I have included a blank table for you to create your family’s schedule. Here’s what I do whenever I create a new daily schedule for kids.
- Put in all the members of the family right at the top.
- Put in breakfast, lunch, snack (optional) and dinner. This breaks the day up into 3 or 4 big blocks of time: morning, early noon, late noon and evening. Planning your day in blocks keeps the day predictable and flexible.
- In each block of time, write down the events with non-flexible time first. Examples of such events will be school, nap time etc.
- Now put in the bedtime. Think about your bedtime routines and how much time you need to complete these tasks. Work your time up to a good time for dinner that gives you enough time to get your kids to bed.
- Lastly, fill in the small events (clean up time, play time etc) into the remaining time slots.
Some schedule planning tips:
- To get time for yourself, first, give children your time. Block off 15 to 30 minutes for a protected learning/playing time with your children. Put everything down and give them your full attention. This is so important to fill up their emotional tank and prevent potential meltdowns, whining and tantrums.
- Give yourself more grace time than you think for tasks like preparing meals or getting ready to go out. Sometimes Abby fusses during meal prep time and it helps to relieve the stress when I have already factored in some additional time.
- If your day doesn't go well four or five days in a row, it's time to tweak the schedule to make it fit your family needs better. Look at your time and see which part of the day always stresses you/your children up. Think about how you can make that time run smoother. Don't forget to communicate any changes with your children and spouse.
- Look for everyone's best and worst times throughout the day. Do the hard things during their best times. Do the fun/easy things during their worst times.
Join my mailing list and as a bonus, download this spreadsheet: Daily Schedule for a Baby and 2 Kids. Join now>>
I hope this post is helpful for you as you create the best schedule for your family.
Congrats on your new baby!
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I love this, along with your entire website. I'm in a similar spot with a 2yo and 3mo. I would love to adapt this schedule to better our lives but honestly, I'm having trouble just keeping up with the messes. Cleaning up after breakfast sometimes happens at lunch because needy baby won't be put down without crying and the preschooler sometimes gets too excited and pees where he is instead of running to the bathroom. I haven't found a way to have him calmly participate in daily tasks like making the bed, getting dressed, cleaning up after eating. It's always a fight. So when I do get a moment where baby is content, I clean up one mess and he's made two behind me. I absolutely love the idea of the learrning shelf, and it's exactly what I want to do for our "play" room. I always wanted it to be more beneficial than just another place to play, but the 3yo would wreck that place in record time. I'm just having trouble implementing any kind of routine because starting a task is a fight, ending a task is a fight, doing that with a crying baby in my arms is just impossible but I'm desperate for change. Sorry for the novel-length comment.
I'm sorry, I meant 3yo. He's 3. How I forget that sometimes, I have no idea. With his strong-will and debate skills, he's CLEARLY 3.
Hi, it's very interesting to see your schdeule. It looks very similar to mine especially the wake up and go sleep and work times in the evening. I was wondering if it is just at us that I can only start at 21h to work etc and not earlier. It's very hard for me to stay awake after the kids are in thrir beds. .i also get up at 6h30 and during night I'm breastfeeding still. So it's also hard for me to wake up even esrlier to do some errands instead of in the evenings...
By the way I have four kids: 8y boy, 6y joy, 4y girl and 1y old boy
Your blog offeres great content!