Summer is fun and exciting, making room for vacations, pool days and excursions. But it can also get a little chaotic. With school and other times of year, there is more routine and structure to the day and as we know, really helps kids thrive. Creating a modified daily toddler schedule can help keep that carefree summer feeling and make sure your kids get their needs met.
This post is sponsored by Red Baron but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I like a good routine and schedule to my day. But it’s also important to be flexible. I’ve learned this the most by letting go more when my husband is watching the kids. He’s not going to do things exactly like I would and that’s really OKAY. As long as we are on the same page about the important things, it’s all good.
Summer is kind of like that. You may have an amazing day at the pool or beach and not make it for nap time once. Or maybe they catch only a few zzz’s in the car. One day bedtime gets adjusted a little late for a great outdoor movie or concert in the park.
You can still create some routine that aligns more to your summer. Make some adjustments to your normal routine to have that summer fun while not burning out.
Summer Bucket List
This is a fun and easy way to decide what activities your family wants to make sure they do in the summer. I’ve made a summer bucket list of things we want to do this summer as a starting off point in planning our time. It can be very simple or more adventurous- all depends on what works best for your family. If you have older kids, you all could create a summer activities list together. And of course, add more as new ideas emerge. This keeps your summer active and motivated to take advantage of as much as possible.
Flexible but Structured Plans
Decide if you are doing any trips, camps, or signing up the kids for swimming lessons. Your schedule will naturally revolve around those things.
I’ve seen some moms plan out their summer weekdays into themes, like Make it Monday, Trip Tuesday, Water Wednesday etc. You could do that- assign each day a different theme and use it as a starting off point. I like to look at the weather of the upcoming week and plan activities based on what we are working with.
From there, I try to make sure I have a variety. One adventure to somewhere new or haven’t been to in a while. We went to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the first time a couple weeks ago and it was ah-mazing. One day to go to the pool, water play in the yard or visit a park with a splash pad. Plan a play date or outing with friends one day. Schedule a couple of classes on Pearachute like art or music that the boys love doing together. Since Miles was in school, the boys haven’t been to tons of classes together so it’s nice to have that opportunity again. If your kids are older, taking time to read and write for enjoyment so they keep up those skills during summer as well. We read to our kids majority of nights still as our pre bad activity.
Craft Corner for Rainy Days
A quick trip to Dollar Tree can do wonders for your craft area. Stock up on paper, colored pencils, foam shapes, shaving cream (for spongy paint), paint, pom poms, pipe cleaners and more! A craft project can entertain for 1-2 hours and is a perfect replacement to an outside activity that is special for that day. Instead of just playing with the usual toys they always see. If you have older kids, stock up on puzzles and board games also.
Daily “Must-Do” Activities
Write out what your must do items are for each day. This would apply to everyone. For us, it’s some type of physical activity, outside time weather permitting, reading time, and 15-20 minutes towards the home. The home activities consist of their daily chores. Since they are 2 and almost 4, they clean up their rooms and toys, help set the table, feed the dog, clear their plates and clean up messes they make. It helps them have pride and ownership over their space. Your chores and responsibilities aren’t over just because it’s summer so theirs aren’t either! Of course if you have older children, adjust the chores as necessary and add reading/writing time, and practicing an instrument or skill.
Easy Lunch and Dinner Ideas
The sun doesn’t just wipe out the kids. Moms get pretty exhausted as well! For our morning activities, I like to prep a lunch to take with us if possible. Some of our easy finger food meals which includes some fruit, a yogurt pouch, cheese, meat and crackers, and raisins. Or I’ll pack some easy sandwiches. Since my boys are toddlers, I know they will get so tired on the way home and will be prime for their nap when we arrive.
After nap is a great time for us to play outside, go to the pool, take a Pearachute class or swimming lessons. Having quick meals is huge after such a long and adventurous day. During the school year, I would grocery shop and prep dinner while Miles was in school but in the summer we are out and about so much more that having easy go to meals is a must.
We’ve been loving Red Baron Pizza around here! The crust is delicious and the boys love the cheese. I just pop it in the oven and while it cooks we do our final clean up of toys and settle down to eat. You can give veggies as an appetizer and fruit as dessert for a well rounded meal.
And guess what? There are also no dinner battles trying to get the kids to eat when you have a pizza like Red Baron for dinner. That is a gift in itself when trying to feed toddlers. 🙂
Daily Toddler Schedule
This is an example of what our day looks like:
7-8AM- Wake up and have breakfast. Sip my coffee slowly instead of in the car on the way to school. Maybe a little Netflix time before we leave.
9AM- Get dressed and pack up diaper bag, snacks and possibly lunch for morning activity.
10-12PM- Morning activity to the pool, library, kids class, playdate, park fun, a museum, or walk in the neighborhood.
12-1PM Lunch at same location of activity if possible or make something quick at home like a yummy pizza. With fresh fruit and vegetables of course! It’s so easy to have some fresh produce on hand during the summer.
1PM-3PM Nap time. Chores for mommy like laundry, cleaning the house, or working on the blog. If we ventured out to a longer activity like driving to the suburbs, we may still be out and about during nap time. I think that’s okay every now and then, happens more in the summer and that’s expected.
3PM-5PM Afternoon Activity. If we had a simple morning activity that didn’t extend through lunch and nap, we would venture out again. To the pool, a playdate, library, swimming lessons, park, take an art or music class, play in the yard or do some crafts inside.
*If we came home during 3-5, we would have quiet time and try to calm down after our long day. Do a puzzle, play with legos, set up the train tracks, color or draw or a simple craft project.
5-530PM- Prepping and eating dinner. Varies based on the day. I usually like to meal plan at least a little bit. Crockpot meals also are a stress free way to get dinner on the table when you are busy during the day. If I haven’t planned or am exhausted, we’d do a pizza as I’ve mentioned, order out, or have sandwiches.
*Our almost 4 year old Miles has chores around this time also- setting the table and feeding the dog as well as cleaning up. Our two year old Ellis also helps clean up and has started to learn how to feed the dog- currently he overfeeds her extensively so we have to watch him. 🙂 I try to keep this consistent as much as possible because it’s less of a fight when they expect it everyday.
6-730PM Bedtime routine. We try to keep this as normal as possible. Sometimes we’ll skip bath if we were out late or had friends over late, but we try to do it often. The boys just get so relaxed and ready to sleep when it’s still included. We read books together. Since our boys share a room, our two year old Ellis goes down first and 20 minutes later by 8PM his brother Miles (4 years old) goes to bed.
And that’s it! Hope this helped you a little bit in combating your summer chaos. I still have young children so I’d love to hear your summer war stories and tips you’ve learned.
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