Inside: Sharing our daily toddler schedule with 2 toddlers (1yo and 3yo) at home.
(Updated on December 2019)
The present 2019 me wished that I could give the past 2015 me a big hug and thank her for the all the work she has done to create a solid daily schedule then.
By solid, I don't mean this is the best daily toddler schedule in the world. The best schedule for everyone just doesn't exist.
Our children are different. Our parenting beliefs are different. Our circumstances are different. I can go on and on with all the differences between our families. My daily toddler schedule will not be the same as yours.
The encouraging news is, you can create the best schedule for your family. One that 1) caters to your children's needs, 2) supports your parenting beliefs and 3) helps the whole family get through each day as smoothly as possible.
This is the solid daily schedule I am talking about.
Related: We welcomed baby Abby into our family recently and here's our latest daily schedule with a baby and 2 kids!
Benefits of a daily toddler schedule
A solid schedule will lay the groundwork for the future, ensuring smooth transitions, even if your schedule is going to change 1023 times in the coming few years.
1) Develop Good Habits
Many of the routines that you set up earlier on in your children's life will develop into good habits in your children.
A good example is our daily bedtime stories. I have been reading to my children since they were babies everyday. My children are both 4yo and 6yo now and I see them picking up books to read on their own every single day. Here's another example, I asked my children to put their dirty clothes into the laundry basket since they were toddlers. Now I am reaping what I sow - I don't have to pick up their dirty clothes after them.
2) Easier Transitions
The daily repetition of events also goes a long way to help children transit to another activity easily. They get familiar with the same sequence of events everyday and this help young children anticipate what's coming up next.
3) Game Plan for Parents
Of course, a schedule keeps us, moms, sane. We know when our kids need to eat, when they need to nap or go to bed. We can plan when to prepare their meals or get them ready for bed.
Be Predictable But Flexible
Though we have a game plan in place, we definitely do not follow it to the minute. Life happens all the time - children fall sick, impromptu play dates, bad weather and these are beyond my control.
The good news is that as children get older, they also become more adaptable with changes in their schedule. Even with tweaks in their schedule on one day, they are likely able to adjust back to the original routines quickly the next day.
Daily Toddler Schedule for 1 yo and 3yo
This is how our typical weekday look like right now.
7.30 AM: Rise & Shine
I wake up at the same time as my 1yo at 7.30am. I am not a morning person and I work late at night, so most days, I won’t try to wake up earlier than my children.
My 3yo, on the other hand, is a morning person and he can’t wait to burst out of bed every morning. We have a morning rule for him: he HAS to remain in bed till 7.00am (he has a digital clock to tell the time). After 7.00am, he has two choices: 1) to stay in bed till 7.30am or 2) go play quietly in the learning room on his own. He always chooses the latter.
15 minutes self-care time first
After all the morning hugs and making our beds, I send both kids out to play on their own. And I’ll have 15 minutes to freshen myself up for the day. This short 15 minutes of self-care sets my mood right for the whole day.
8.00 AM: Breakfast
At 8am, I’m in the kitchen making breakfast. Then we take time to have breakfast together. After breakfast, I empty the dishwasher and put in the dirty breakfast dishes. The kids get ready for the day and change out of their pajamas. I’ll help the kids brush their teeth once I’m done working in the kitchen.
9.00 AM: Outside play time or Preschool
We are usually out of the house before 9am. We like to be out in the morning because:
- Children get to expend their limitless energy.
- Unstructured outside playtime is important.
- We need a change in environment.
- Some days are too long and we need to pass time.
- I need to have adult conversations with my friends.
We go to parks, playgrounds, library, museums, grocery stores, Ikea, meet our friends for playdates, bike/scoot around our neighborhood or simply play in our backyard. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, my 3yo will be in preschool in the morning. Little sister and I will hang out outside, pick up big brother at 12 noon and make our way home.
12.00 PM: Lunch
When the kids are home, they are usually pretty hungry. I have to keep lunch prep simple and quick (think leftovers, freezer meals, sandwiches etc). After lunch, I clear the lunch dishes right away.
1.00 PM: Playtime/ Storytime
After lunch, my kids run off to play on their own. I have a little time to get some work done. At 1.30pm, I read a story to them and put them down for their afternoon nap.
2.00 PM: 1 hr nap time for the children
My children take their naps and I get to have a short 1 hour work time. During this time, I do some quick and easy work for Happy Tot Shelf like editing photos or videos or replying messages.
Edited: My son dropped his nap when he was around 4yo. He has his 'quiet time' in the learning room while little sister naps.
Little sister dropped her nap at 3.5yo. Now that both my children do not nap, they get daily screen time of 45 minutes during this time.
Before the age of 2 years old, my kids do not get any screen time.
Related: Recommendations for Children's Media Use by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
3.00 PM: Snack and free play
When my kids get up from their nap, we have an afternoon snack together. They have some free play time while I get materials set up for our home learning time.
4.00 PM: HOME LEARNING
It took me awhile to figure out where we could set aside time for home learning since big brother started going to school in the morning (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday).
We set aside around 1 hour each day from 4 to 5pm for home learning. This is a protected time (no housework and no phone) where I sit down with my children and do activities together.
Related: Read more about how we do home learning during this one hour here.
For some of you with young toddlers who haven't start school yet, scheduling home learning in the morning might work better. Or for families with multiple children, some mums prefer to do home learning with the older one while the younger sibling is napping or teach the younger sibling while the older kid is in school in the morning.
5.00 PM: Free play for kids while I do housework and prep dinner
Children will do a quick cleanup of the learning room. At the same time, I choose a housework (vacuuming, mopping the floor, changing bedsheets, general cleaning etc) to complete. My children will play on their own while I prepare dinner. Every now and then, I may need to break up fights or help them with something but they generally let me cook in peace.
6.30 PM: Dinner
Dad is usually home at this time and we have dinner together. After dinner, dad clears the dinner table and plays with the children. I get my shower.
7.30 PM: Kids Get Ready for Bedtime
We do a quick cleanup of the play room. I get the children ready for bed time (shower, brushing teeth and changing into PJs) and read them their bedtime stories. The children get to choose 1 book each and we read 2 books together each night. I tuck them to bed.
Dad gets his shower and does some housework.
8.30 PM: Kids are asleep and we do a happy dance!
After the kids sleep, my hubby and I hang out together. At around 9.30pm, I start working on my blog and home learning materials. I’ll sleep around 12 midnight.
That wraps up a busy day at HTS headquarters!
Now good news! I got all these information summarized into an excel spreadsheet.
Get this Daily Toddler Schedule in an Excel Spreadsheet and exclusive access to my Free Printable Page as bonuses for joining my newsletter. Get them here >>
Staying on Top of the Housework Game
I get this question a lot so I thought I'll share how I manage the everyday housework at home with kids.
My three biggest tips for tackling housework:
1) Do housework when the kids are watching
I don't do any housework while the children sleep or during the protected home learning time.
I want my children to see who cleans the house, who cooks their meals and who washes their clothes. It is important they see housework as a necessary part of our family life and they should never take a clean house and meals for granted.
2) Involve the Children
Rope in the children to help with simple chores whenever they can. Set up the house environment and introduce routines for the children to complete tasks on their own. Here's an example. When my children return home from preschool, I ask my children to take their lunch boxes and water bottles out from their bags and put them in the kitchen sink. It takes two weeks or so for children to get used to a new routine, but stick with it and it will become a habit.
3) Tackle the small chores right away
Tackling the easy small tasks right away keeps the house relatively clean and tidy all the time. For example, instead of leaving the dirty dishes in the dishes until the end of the day, I wash/ load them into the dishwasher right after every meal. I definitely feel less overwhelmed with doing some light cleaning everyday as compared to deep cleaning a very dirty house at the end of a week.
There are 3 major daily chores that take up more time and they are meal prep, laundry and general cleaning:
1) Meal Prep
Breakfast and lunch are kept simple, so they require little time to prep. Dinner is more elaborated and I start dinner prep at 5pm, after their home learning time.
This used to be the most challenging part of the day.
Think: clingy toddler demanding that I carry her or play with her while I try to get dinner fixed on time.
What do I do?
Some days, I wear her in my carrier. Some days, I survive by keeping her busy with low prep activities or letting her play with kitchen utensils.
I do what I can to keep her busy and happy but I don't leave the kitchen. It’s hard. But I need my toddler to know that I love her AND I have to cook our dinner. This is so important to let my children know that dinner preparation and housework are part of our family’s routines.
Now my kids usually let me cook dinner in peace. They will have their free play time or sometimes, they will help me in the kitchen.
Once every 2 days, we'll wash the dirty laundry in the evening. My husband folds away the clothes from the previous day laundry while I shower the kids. I find everything more manageable keeping the laundry right away and not let the clean/dirty laundry pile up.
3) General Cleaning
For weekly major tasks like vacuuming, mopping the floor and changing the bedsheets, I'll find a day when dinner prep is simple and do them during their 5pm free play time. My children love helping me with the vacuuming and changing the bedsheets and we usually have fun doing them together. It takes a longer time to involve the children but I don't want to turn them away when they want to help.
When do I find time to prep for home learning activities and blogging?
When my kids are napping or after they go to bed at night, that's when I plan and create the activities, work on my blog, reply messages and emails and update my social media platforms. I also get some time in the day during their snack time to set up the learning activities.
Download the Daily Toddler Schedule Excel Spreadsheet on my Free Printable Page! Get the password here >>
How's your Daily Toddler Schedule like?
Your turn! Share with me your daily toddler schedule. How do you incorporate home learning into your day? I love to hear about it!
Pin this Daily Schedule to your Toddler Board!
I like that you include screen time... moderation is key.
Thank you for sharing your schedule - it's so helpful to see how you balance 2 toddlers! I was pretty good about sticking with a schedule with my oldest child, but for the past half year with my younger one (now 16months) so rambunctious and unpredictable, it's been really hard to stick to a routine. I've had to adapt and try to fit in teaching here and there, but after reading this, I feel better that it took a while for your to find the right schedule and I'm encouraged we'll get there too! 🙂
I just returned to full time work for the last 5 months and am struggling to find time for this. Hoping to get some balance in the next few months to come and will revisit this blog for ideas again! Routine is so key!
Xue liang says
Thank you for sharing. I was struggling whether to set learning time in the morning or afternoon since my elder is attending school. (I prefer morning) yet this post let me realize that it is ok to home learning in the afternoon, and they actually will have better attention after nap.
Thank you for your encouragement.
You are welcome! Glad that this post helped. I say, do what works for your family and children! =D
Thanks for sharing. This is amazing
Zeynep Beyza Ataseven says
very helpful, tomorrow I will try your routine including our prayer times (muslim)