A routine or schedule isn’t a regimented, strict schedule for every minute of your day. It won’t make your life mundane or boring. Actually having a routine will help you NOT have to plan every single minute, because your organization helps free up some time. It also contributes to being a happier stay at home mom when your day has structure. What a schedule does is help regulate your baby and toddler’s sleep, mood, behavior and overall well being. Creating a toddler baby schedule may feel daunting but it doesn’t have to be!
Being consistent in how things are done daily will make caring for two kids easier. Once you have a routine established, bending it here and there won’t completely throw them off. We do the same things in the same order but if we have an activity that pushes nap or bedtime by 30 minutes every once in awhile, it won’t ruin their sleep or daily rhythm.
Structure is a proven comfort to children, and in turn moms and dads! Because if structure makes their moods and behavior more regulated, then that is a clear blessing for you as well! Make a schedule that works for you, which is what I have done. I’ll share an example of my daily toddler baby schedule and steps for creating your own.
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The following schedule is for a 9-15 month old (two naps a day) and a 18 month to 3 year old toddler (one nap and able to participate in structured activities, but not in preschool yet). Right now my sons are 12 months (Ellis) and 34 months (Miles) and we’ve been following this schedule since Ellis went to two naps around 9 months.
Scroll to the end for steps on creating your own schedule and modifications for younger babies!!
7-7:30 Wake Up and start the day! Change diapers/pull ups. Get dressed. Boys get milk and play independently, while mom makes and drinks coffee. While they play, make sure baby Ellis doesn’t eat the dog food or toss dog water all over the kitchen floor. Make sure Miles doesn’t run Ellis’ toes over with toy motorcycle.
8:30-9 Make and have breakfast together. Cereal with fruit on unambitious, ok fine, lazy days. Or we’ll have eggs with toast, pancakes with fruit or oatmeal with fruit.
9:30 One year old Ellis goes down for nap. Miles used to come with me but for some reason (maybe because he’s a two year old) he doesn’t understand the concept of whispering while a baby is trying to fall asleep. So I set him up with a puzzle, blocks or magnetic book that will take his attention for at least 15 minutes.
Involve toddler in your housework
After Ellis is down, I convince Miles to help me with some housework or cooking. He loves to help, even though it can take a lot longer when he is helping. It’s better than having him get bored with his toys though and it’s great for his development! If it’s not something he can really help with, he’ll have an hour of iPad time or PBS. I unload/load the dishwasher, start or completely prep dinner depending if I’m using the crockpot and start a load of laundry.
Ugh- I hate laundry and dishes. Putting them everyday helps them not pile up and be a complete burden. To be completely transparent, some days this happens and sometimes not, because I rather make a gourmet meal then do laundry. For sure my area for growth!
10:30-11 Ellis wakes up and we get ready to hit the road! Make sure diaper bag has all the essentials, change baby and get toddler to use potty. This is my favorite part of the day and the ideal time for both of them to have an activity. When Ellis drops his first nap, I will plan their outing earlier and push nap up to 1pm. I do it this way so Ellis can have his nap at home and be fully rested. His first few months, he could have it on the go and still have two more naps at home. The naps on the go are never as effective as home- just like when we sleep in the car or on a plane, never the same.
We use this amazing service called Pearachute to schedule many of our outings. They have it in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Kansas City. It’s a service to drop in to various kids’ classes all over the city, instead of going directly through one business where you may have to buy a multi week session.
*If you are in Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington DC or San Francisco, you can try your first 4 credit month of Pearachute for free! 🙂 Just click on the link or go to: https://www.pearachutekids.com/referred?coupon_code=REF-31UMAY
I sign up the week before so I know what I have going on the coming week: Bookworms (reading and art) at 11 on Monday, Mr. Dave Music on Wednesday at 11:15, and soccer at 4pm on Thursday. I shoot for 2-3 a week and leave the other days for errands like the grocery store or house projects.
The best classes for a toddler and baby together are music classes hands down! They both benefit from it so much and we try to go at least one a week. I can’t wait until Ellis is 15 months because it will open up other options for him like art and then more sports classes at 18 months.
Right now I take him along to a lot of Miles’ classes and we play on the side, which he is usually pretty happy with (I may bribe him with snacks if he gets bored, lol). Our favorites are art classes, soccer, book readings and music/art class combos. Chicago favorite spots are Mr. Dave Music, Easel Art Studio, Super Soccer Stars and Lil’ Street.
Other options are the park if it’s nice which Miles loves to do or an open play session at an indoor playspace. We have a park a few blocks away so that is usually our post nap venture since it’s easy to grab the stroller and go. Chicago favorites for indoor playspaces include Little Beans Cafe and Bubbles Academy. Really they are the closest to us, because I’ve heard great reviews of many other spots!
12:30 Lunch together! If I’ve done my monthly prep of baby finger foods, I pull out something from there to feed them. Many times I give Ellis eggs- it’s my go to protein for one year olds because it’s so easy! I’ll also create my own “lunchable” by cutting up cheese, turkey and some whole wheat crackers or toast. Then add a little fruit on the side. PB&Js are also favorites for Miles. If we have leftovers from the night before, that is my first choice.
1:30-2 Go down for nap. Miles gets a pull up and Ellis a diaper change, we get into the reading corner and read one book together. They’ll sleep 1-2 hours. I usually work on my blog instead of folding that load of laundry I did earlier. Hey, we have clean clothes- that’s a win for me! This is a good time to do house stuff, but also get some rest for you since you’ll have to gear up for the post nap/dinner/bedtime shenanigans.
3-4pm Wake up and snacks. Ellis usually gets up first and I’ll have at least 30 minutes to play alone with him. Then Miles is up by 4 at the latest. In the winter, I hate post nap activities because it gets dark around 4:30- we at least try to get a walk around the neighborhood in our stroller.
The summer is a lot nicer so we may do a second outing. It could be walking to a park near by or we have soccer on Thursdays. In the winter, I put together a craft corner in Miles’ room so post nap is a perfect time to do a little craft project or play in a sensory bin (my favorite ideas are in this book).
Try and get outside at least once a day because sun is beneficial for babies and toddlers, plus it helps them sleep better!
5-5:30 Finish dinner if needed. Listen to music or Spanish videos on youtube.
5:30-6 DAD IS HOME!! YAY!!! This is me and the kids’ reactions. 🙂 Daddy play time! I wrap up dinner and work out at either 6 or 7. I didn’t always exercise while I was working full time and I see now that it really helps me recharge and ready to tackle the next day.
6:30 Kids eat and we sit down with them (or my hubby does if I’m at workout class), my husband and I eat at 8pm after the kids are down and I’ve worked out already. Eventually, we’d love to all eat together but this is working for us right now.
7pm Miles cleans up his toys. Bath time by Daddy!! ( I use a lot of exclamation points for the activities led by Daddy, I’m sure you understand)
7:15- 7:30 Ellis is dressed in pjs, relaxing lotion, read 2-3 stories, cuddle time and put down with lambie white noise machine. Miles gets a little extra bath time play, then gets the same routine but we’ve come to a conclusion of 3 stories- no more per our rules, no less per Miles’ rules, so he can’t manipulate us to stay awake longer. 🙂 Except when he gets me to come back in because he has to go “potty” again. Working on that one…
8pm Miles is down while Mommy and Daddy get some adult dinner time talk and wine of course!
Night time is when I work on my blog, because I’m naturally a night owl. My husband usually goes down around 9:30 to get up early and do his workout before work, so I stay up until about 11 working on the blog or watching binge worthy shows on Netflix (if I’m being honest).
Baby 0-9 months
Having a toddler and a baby with more frequent naps changes things a little bit. For newborns, I followed this sleep training strategy where Ellis would sleep after 1-2 hours of wake time. This gives you a little less flexibility than when they are older.
To create this schedule- we’d stick to home a lot more or I would have Ellis take one nap in the stroller or car seat. Around 3 months, he started to have a consistent 3 naps a day schedule so we could go to our morning activity with him sleeping on the go for that first nap. Walks around the neighborhood or trips to the park were always great. He was entertained with just staring at the leaves on the trees and people walking by.
Create Your Own Toddler Baby Schedule
How do I keep it all straight? The routines are easy to remember because you do them daily (you just have to decide what yours are and stick to them), but then you have to organize all of the other stuff. I used this system by Suzi at Start a Mom Blog to organize my week in terms of events, appointments or big goals for the week. I modified it a little bit to fit my life, and update it every Sunday.
We are in a small condo with no real office or dining room, so the desk planner just wasn’t working for me. I have this hanging in my kitchen and really like the visual reminder as I’m running around. Also, I like that I can grab a post it and move it to a different day or time if it doesn’t work out when I originally planned it.
Using a desk planner works also! This happy planner is adorable and I hope to get one some day when I have a home office or desk area.
My 4 main buckets are (assigned to different color post its):
- Events/ Kids Activities
- To Do Items
Decide what your main priorities are for the week and make sure they are scheduled first. Mine are enrichment activities for the kids, exercise classes, meal planning to keep with our budget and lastly because I have to in order to stay sane- housework.
Fill In Top Priorities First
I reserve 30-45 minutes every morning for housework of laundry, dishes, and dinner. I have to write this down to get me to stick to the habit, instead of brushing it off for something else. (Notice a trend here??)
The routine activities I listed above aren’t here because they are the same every day. But I add in our activities scheduled through Pearachute and then make 2-3 house goals for the week beyond the regular dinner, dishes, laundry, and general clean up.
After that I write in my workout days, blog objectives and list what is for dinner on a large post it. If other things come up, I can look to see where I can fit it in. If you notice, Saturday is not on here at all. Family time is on Saturdays and we try to keep that.
That’s it! Cross off your activities when they are done and be amazed at how productive and organized you’ve been!