Toddlers thrive on a toddler routine. It gives them a sense of security and predictability, which can help them feel calm and content.
Now, I certainly don’t think that I have the perfect toddler routine. And what works for my family may not work for your family.
There are so many different variables in every family such as family dynamics, number of siblings, age of children, living situations, health conditions, and a host of other factors.
This blog post aims to share with you my easy and simple toddler routine that works for our family. And to hopefully give you ideas and inspire you to come up with a toddler routine that will work for your family.
The Benefits of a Toddler Routine:
- Reduces stress in a child because there is predictability
- When a consistent routine is in place, and the same thing happens every day such as when they’ll be eating breakfast, napping, and playing, children will feel less stressed because they know what to expect next.
- Encourages them to learn more freely
- Children can play and learn more freely when they are fed and changed, and know that they are in a safe place and that all of their needs are met.
- Routines help build confidence
- Simple routines such as brushing their teeth in the morning, washing their hands before meals, and taking their shoes off in the house help them build confidence as they learn how to do it independently.
- Provide security and safety
- Toddlers who eat breakfast at the same time every morning, wash their hands before meals, and hold their caregiver’s hands before they cross the street are all examples of routines that provide a sense of security and safety. It is good for them to consistently practice safe habits so that they become ingrained and a part of their habits as they get older as well.
- Prevents power struggles
- When routines are established and children know what to expect, there may be fewer power struggles.
- May reduce toddler tantrums and meltdowns
- When kids know what is next on the agenda, they’re less likely to throw a tantrum and refuse. For example, if it’s time to take a bath, you can ask them if they would prefer to pick their pajamas or brush their teeth first. They know that they have to do it, there are choices and they’re less likely to have a meltdown.
- Help promote healthy habits
- Routines like washing your hands after using the restroom and brushing your teeth before bed help encourage and promote healthy habits.
Tips for creating a routine with your toddler:
- Start by establishing a basic schedule for the day. This could include wake-up time, meals, naps, and playtime. And then plug in activities around your meal times, naps, and playtime.
- Be consistent with the schedule as much as possible. This will help your toddler learn what to expect and make adjusting to changes easier.
- Be flexible. Sometimes, your toddler’s routine needs to be adjusted, such as when they are sick or have a special event. Be prepared to be flexible and go with the flow.
- Make the routine fun. Include activities that your toddler enjoys, such as reading books, playing games, or going for walks.
- End the day with a calming routine. This could include a bath, storytime, or singing songs.
A toddler routine can be a lifesaver for both you and your toddler. It can help you stay organized and give your toddler a sense of security. A consistent toddler schedule can help reduce stress, encourage learning, promote confidence, and reduce tantrums.
I’ve also included a printable toddler routine that you can download and use. There are two pages. One page is my exact toddler routine that you can use if you think it might work for you. Another page is completely blank so that you can fill it out yourself and make your own toddler routine. On the right side, there are ideas for learning activities and active play. There’s also space for you to write down your own notes and your planned meals for the day. I hope that you’ll enjoy it and find it helpful.
I know that taking care of a toddler and trying to plan stuff out can be stressful and overwhelming. So hopefully this blog post and printable routine will help you take some of the guesswork out of it. Keep reading for inspiration!!
5:30 am – Mommy Wakes Up First
I wake up first before the kids. I get up before my husband and kids because I enjoy having some peace with myself before I start the day.
I’ve noticed that getting up earlier and having time to myself has made me a more patient, calm, and productive person. I also think it’s important to have a morning routine.
Usually, when I wake, I brush my teeth and wash my face and I change out of my clothes into a set of comfortable athleisure clothes. If I want an extra boost of confidence, I may dress in something nicer but I usually just like wearing something comfortable to chase the kids around in but also cute enough for me to feel good and confident in.
Next, I open all the blinds and windows, make my coffee, and sit down to enjoy it. I may spend a few minutes repeating some affirmations for the day, meditating, or journaling. Sometimes I just do one of the three and other times, I’ll do everything. It will just depend on my mood, energy, and how I’m feeling for the day.
After that, I will get breakfast ready for the kids.
7:00 am – Wake Up, Get Dressed and Ready For The Day
Our boys wake up around 7 a.m. on the dot. It’s like their bodies have internal alarm clocks and they just wake up at the same time every day. They rarely ever sleep in. So I anticipate them waking up at around 7 a.m. every morning.
As soon as they get up, I change their diapers, brush their teeth, and wash their faces. I’ll change them into something comfortable for the day.
7:30 am – Breakfast
My boys eat breakfast at their toddler table. They both stopped wanting to sit in their high chairs at around 18 months and prefer sitting in regular chairs with a booster or sitting at their toddler table.
I change up breakfast daily but it will vary between:
- Scrambled eggs and toast
- Waffles and fruit
- Cheese Quesadilla
I try to serve an easy breakfast that is easy for the boys to eat on their own.
While the boys are eating, I may sit with them and sing a few songs or read to them. Or I may use it to tidy up the kitchen or begin preparing ingredients for lunch and dinner later.
8:00 am – Reading
After the boys are done with breakfast, we will sit and read. We have a bookshelf full of toddler books but we also visit the library weekly for toddler storytime. We check out new books, renew a few favorites, and return others.
Both of my boys are doing a reading challenge sponsored by our local library network called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten.
The goal is to read any book, as many times as you can and read to your kids.
The objective of the program is to encourage reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers and to encourage parent and child bonding through reading,
We usually will read anywhere from 5-10 different books daily. Sometimes we’ll read the same book over and over again if it’s a new favorite. I’ve read the same title as many as 20 times in one sitting. Do your kids love reading the same book over and over again too? Let me know in the comments below what some of your kid’s favorite books are and how many times you’ve read them.
8:30 am – Puzzles, Busy Books, Coloring
While I have both the kids sitting on the floor, it’s usually a pretty easy transition into doing some toddler puzzles, busy books, or coloring.
We have a wide variety of Melissa & Dog puzzles such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, and farm and safari animals. We also have a few 4-8-piece puzzles that are slightly challenging but keep my toddlers interested.
I also like The Learning Resources My First Puzzles Toy theme.
We usually will work on a few puzzles and busy books. It has helped my kids learn their letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. They’ve also learned opposites such as big and small, fast and slow, and in and out through the use of puzzle books.
I try and keep things fun and interesting for them so I’ll change out the puzzles and busy books weekly.
The kids also enjoy coloring and we use different mediums such as washable markers, crayons, and coloring pencils. I haven’t experimented with paint yet because my youngest still puts things in his mouth and I don’t want him to taste paint. I do plan on introducing washable paint and watercolors when they are older and seem ready for it.
As you’re reading, I hope this is giving you ideas to create your toddler schedule too. As you can see, I don’t include painting as an activity for my kids because my youngest is not ready for it. I don’t want to introduce it to my oldest yet and my younger one fights for it. It just doesn’t work for our family at this time. However, if you feel like your kids are ready for it, then go for it!
Adjust your activities and schedule to what is appropriate and fitting for your kids and family.
9:00 am – Snack Time
I’m not sure if it’s because my kids are boys or because they’re growing but my kids have an incredible appetite. I swear they’re all the time around the clock.
I try to have healthy snacks, fruit, and crackers ready before they start getting too hungry and asking for it. Even if they start getting a little hungry, they start becoming angry little Hulk babies.
I try to avoid that as best as possible by offering them a snack.
9:30 am – Outdoor Active Play
If we go for a walk, the boys will usually eat their snacks in our double stroller. But if it’s raining, too windy, or cold, then we’ll just enjoy snack time inside.
What we do outside may vary depending on the weather, the kids, and how everybody is feeling that day.
Sometimes, we’ll go for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood so that mommy can get her exercise in and the boys can eat their snacks nicely.
Other times, we’ll walk to a nearby park and play on the playground. And other times, we’ll walk to the grocery store just to pick up one or two items.
We may play in the backyard or our sandbox. It just depends but we ALWAYS spend some time outside as long as the weather permits.
I’m a firm believer that kids need to go outside and spend some time playing outdoors. They need to run around and exercise. The sun and air are good for them. And they learn more when they see and experience new things outside.
10:00 am – Independent Play
During this time, my kids get free time to play independently. I like leaving open-ended toys such as building blocks, puzzles, train sets, and Magna tiles out for them to play with.
They’re boys and so they have an array of trucks, construction vehicles, buses, and garbage trucks to play with. They are obsessed with vehicles and anything that has wheels. They’ll play with them daily and not get bored with them.
While they are playing independently, I will try and get lunch ready for them. Most of the time, I’m usually reheating something from last night’s dinner for them.
I usually don’t make anything from scratch for lunch because I try to give them my full attention.
Plus, they fight over toys a lot and so I have to come and break things up often between them.
11:00 am – Lunch Time
Lunch is usually something simple. Most of the time, as leftovers from last night’s dinner.
As soon as the boys are done with lunch, they will usually ask for a glass of milk to wash it all down. They’ll each get an 8-ounce serving in their sippy cup which they’ll finish.
12:00 pm – Nap Time
Naptime starts immediately after they’re done eating lunch and drinking milk.
I still struggle with putting my toddler down for naps. At the time of writing this post, he’s 2.5 and every day is a struggle putting him down.
He fights, he stalls, he talks to himself. Lol, But we still try very hard to get them to nap.
Sometimes I’ll put him in the stroller and push him around the neighborhood or in the backyard so that he will nap. Other times, I’ll put him in the car and we will go for a short drive so that he will nap.
I know that it sounds crazy but that is just what works for us in terms of getting my boys to nap. It’s just something about the motion of the car and stroller that gets them to sleep.
2:00 pm – Wake Up, Change Diaper
My boys will usually nap for about 2 hours. After they get up, I’ll change their diaper and give them a snack.
2:30 pm – Snack
Snack time usually consists of fresh fruit, cheese, yogurt, or crackers. We might sing some songs or I’ll read a quick book to them while they’re snacking.
They’re usually pretty cheerful and easygoing in the afternoon as long as they’ve had their nap.
3:00 pm – Play
The kids will play before dinner. Sometimes they’ll play independently with their blocks, train sets, or magna tiles.
Other times, I might set up an activity for them such as sorting cotton balls or scooping rainbow pasta.
Usually around this time, my husband will be coming home from work. When he comes home from work, then he will play with the kids. He’ll chase them around the house, play hide ‘n seek with them or kick the ball around with them.
My husband will keep the kids entertained and busy for a few hours so that I can prepare and cook dinner.
5:00 pm – Dinner
We usually have dinner around 5 p.m. every night. The earlier the better because then we can clean up and get done faster. Our dinners vary.
Some nights it’ll be something very simple and easy like salmon, veggies, and rice. And other nights if I have more time, then I’ll make a Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup or Beef Stew.
I try to vary our proteins throughout the week. I think it’s healthy to get a variety of nutrients from different types of foods and so I try my best to change it every day.
6:00 pm – Screen Time While Mommy & Daddy Clean Up
Our kids get 30 minutes of screen time at the end of the day. This allows me to finish cleaning up, wash the dishes, sweep, and mop the floors. I try to clean and tidy the house up as much as possible while the boys watch their shows.
I know giving kids screen time is pretty debatable and less is better. And I do try my best to limit how much screen time my kids get.
But allowing them to watch for a little bit after dinner just works for me and my family. They sit still for 30 minutes, don’t make a mess of the house as I try to clean it, and let me finish cleaning up for the night so that I can get things done at a decent time.
6:30 pm – Bathtime and Get Ready For Bed
My husband and I will trade off bathing the boys. They’ll get a quick bath. We brush their teeth and change them into their pajamas.
7:00 pm – Bedtime
My husband and I share the duties of taking our kids to bed. He grabs one kid and I grab the other. We get the boys ready for bed and take them to their rooms. We stay with them until they fall asleep.
That’s our schedule and what works best for our family. Again, every family is different and the dynamics within each family are different.
You can use this schedule if you think it’ll work for you. But feel free to adjust it and make it your own so that it works well for your family’s needs.
Good luck and let me know in the comments below what are some of your favorite things to do in your toddler routine.
The first link is for a printable toddler routine that you can download and use. This is my exact toddler routine that you can use if you think it might work for you. The second link is for a completely blank printable toddler routine so that you can fill it out yourself and make your own toddler routine.
On the right side, there are ideas for learning activities and active play. There’s also space for you to write down your own notes and your planned meals for the day. I hope that you’ll enjoy it and find it helpful.