How do you make a daily schedule with kids?
I hear from you. This summer is not exactly what we had planned on, and the next school year seems daunting to wrap our heads around. Our predictable daily schedule with kids is needed more than ever.
Knowing when in the day I can catch my breath is what’s saving me.
RELATED: I also count on these activity cards to give me quick ideas at my fingertips! We even have ideas for BIG KIDS!
To be the parent I want to be for my boys, I need to make a predictable routine that works for BOTH of us. – You heard me, right! A daily routine needs to keep the KIDS happy and allow the CAREGIVER to have mini breaks in between. How is this win-win possible?
Follow these simple steps to work for you and what is crucial for you to include in your day. Your final routine will look different than mine because it is your lifestyle that we want to highlight. These simple steps will help you brainstorm how to rethink your days at home with kids.
How do I get my child on a schedule?
- Be consistent with the new routine – once you have it down, you can be more flexible with spontaneous ideas.
- Hang visuals or picture cards to display the order of daily events.
- Use a digital clock to help your child understand what time you do what – For example, snack time is 10 o’clock. Your child will begin to recognize the ten on the clock.
Our flexible schedule changes slightly from year to year, but HOW I make my daily schedule remains the same.
Again, your times and events will look different than what I share here. – It is important as every family is different. A good daily schedule is a routine YOUR family feels successful with.
For us, we no longer have nap time. When I had two nappers, I made sure they napped at the same time. When only one boy napped, the other two did something quietly. The key is to look at your downtime without any to-do list. It is your time to sit and be doing whatever helps you catch your breath. ⠀
Here is how I create a predictable routine with kids.
First, break the day into three sections.
I do this to feel accomplished. Thinking of my day in thirds had always helped me, even when I wasn’t a parent. As an educator, I would wake up, work out before school, teach, and sometimes head to my part-time job after teaching. Thinking of my day in thirds felt less overwhelming, knowing that I could check things off as the day progressed.
I carried a similar thought process into motherhood, especially in the younger years when time can feel like it is ticking backward. If this is you, hang in there. I assure you that the predictable play schedule you set up now will set you up for success down the road.
RELATED: Toddler activities and activities for one-year-olds can help make the day more enjoyable!
Next, I look for the times that aren’t working well and fill in the gaps with solutions.
Mornings were cranky from morning TV; I build in Breakfast Invitations to spark play. It worked! ⠀
I MUST workout to function; I add a time to walk or workout at home. It’s expected, and the boys snack as I sweat.
Late afternoon around 3, I crash. So, I include quiet time or TV time in that slot. Sometimes we do both back to back, depending on the day.⠀
All three of these times that weren’t flowing for us to work as a team now are because I know when I can catch my breath or set the day for success with Breakfast Invitations.
Next, I add playtime into our days.
Since the boys know that TV time is at 3, we work indoor and outside activities for kids around that. No more asking to watch a show, because they know when it is time. ⠀
Breakfast Invitations get our morning routine going, and after that, the play is mostly up to them.
When play needs a little help, I rely on these 50+ Kid Activities at Home to get play ideas rolling. Sometimes the kids use the art cart, and other times the boys use toys we have in the playroom.
Sensory play is also a great addition to our day. If you are new to sensory play, you’ll want to start here with this Introduction to Sensory Play.
As a parent, you do not need to play camp counselor.
When you create your daily routine, decide when independent playtime is essential and when you may want to hop in fun to connect with your child. As a working parent, I try to be less involved in my boy’s morning play as I try to get some things done. This morning work time frees up my afternoon to be a little more available.
Over time, kids will know that they are welcome to say hello during parent’s work time but that it is not a time to sit on the floor and play together. You can remind children, “This is your time to do your work. A child’s work is play. You are welcome to come to sit here and say hello, but you are not allowed to prevent me from getting this done. At 10 o’clock, we will head out for our walk.”
Finally, I think about meal times and plug that in the best I can.
With everyone home, 5:45 is my ideal dinnertime.
We try to do a bath, books, and bed shortly after that, and I aim to have everyone asleep before 7:30. ⠀
As the primary caregiver for three little boys, I try to stick with 12 hours on, 12 hours off work schedule. Naturally, there will be sick nights and events in between, but having that goal helps me know that most days will have some predictability.
Remember that these are the times that work for ME. I know that to function, I need to have everyone asleep to allow me enough downtime. This may not be the case for you. Again, think about what works best for your family and plug in your times around that.
The weekend can be more flexible to help hit restart when Monday rolls around again.
Children thrive off knowing what to expect, and parents can feel the same knowing when they get a chance to hit restart.
Want to learn more about a daily schedule with kids?
Dive into the startup guide and activity cards!