Don’t be overwhelmed. You can do this.
My schedule used to be free play around meal times and a short time for tv. I would try to add in different activities but the boys often weren’t interested and seemed easily bored. So I started toy rotation and planned some times when I just started playing an activity like playing instruments. Often they followed suit.
Things were good but when I suddenly had to work from home with the coronavirus and daycares were closed, I knew this fluid schedule wasn’t going to be enough.
I wasn’t sure how it would go but I felt like it was promising when the boys associated snack time with reading. We read and then we have snack. I just needed to add a bit more and be consistent.
How do you create an hourly schedule for yourself and your kiddos?
Start with wake up, bedtime, and meal times
These are events that will be fairly consistent day to day. I find I’m within a half hour each day of when these take place.
List Essentials you need to get done each day or week
Keep it simple. Only list what you have to do.
- Put away clothes
- Prep lunches
Decide when these Activities Make the Most Sense to Do
I group activities in the same room or proximity to be close to the boys while they’re occupied. For example
I do dishes when the boys are having snack,
prep lunches after dinner when the boys are playing,
and do laundry when kids are playing in the next room.
Plan 1 Household Task to Do that You will Feel Good About
I only plan one thing a day to do that I’ll feel productive and good about. I used to have 2-3 or a list, but felt like I was always behind and not being as productive as I wanted to be. I realized it was because I had too high expectations for the amout of time I had with two kids. If I get the laundry sorted and put away (usually at least 2 loads), I feel great. It’s hard doing this when toddlers are trying to pull clothes out the basket to help and sweeping the floor with them or jumping into a pile they created. Sometimes I just have to wait until nap time.
Schedule a Bit of Me Time
Decide which part of your day you think you’re most apt to get this done. For me that’s my little one’s nap time and when the both kids are asleep. Do whatever it is that makes you feel you. This is the time when you take your wife and mom hat off. For some that means exercise, for others it means doing a hobby, or quiet reflection time. Recharge yourself. You deserve it.
When you meet your own needs, you’re better able to emotionally meet the needs of others.
Chunk out Activity Times with your Kiddos
If your kid are super active or younger like my two boys (2-4), I’d chunk out your activities in 15-30 minute sections. If your kids are older or have a longer attention span, you can do 30-1 hour sections.
Consider your kids’ needs and temperments. My kids are most active in the afternoon so outside we go. If the weather’s not great, we stay inside and do active play (Simon Says, Tag, Hot Lava, Red Light Green Light etc.). They love to read and pretend play with cars so we do that a couple times a day. They also like to play with me so I use this time during free play to do music, art, fine motor, or other skills that I can guide them in. I like to create a list of a variety activities to do with a skill category so I never feel at a loss of what to do. For example we can practice patterns and colors with legos, blocks, puzzles, I spy, and tech toys like Scout the bear. I can do one or two each day.
Soon you’ll find your day is filled.
For a rough outline of some different types of schedules, these are great!
Important Tips to Remember
Be flexible. Today we didn’t do very many books at morning reading or shapes and numbers, but we did a lot of independent pretend play. Yesterday we did a lot of shapes, books, art, and music time. The kids played through the morning tv show time and wanted to build ramps with cars.
Sometimes you do an activity and hour later or skip it all together. It’s okay. You have kids with their own personalities and needs. The schedule is just a guideline for you both to get used to.
Your schedule is going to look different from other people’s. My colleagues had a lot simpler schedules than mine because they’re chunks of time were longer. This doesn’t work at my house where my two active boys can only pay attention to some activities for 15-30 min. Do what works for your family.
Sample Schedules to Use
Here’s a sample of our schedule now that we’re staying inside, at home, and I need to work from home. Toddler Mommy Schedule. Once things settle down the schedule will look different with more outings, less tv time, etc. Feel free to change it to work for your family.
You can also have a visual copy for your kiddos, but I find that whatever picture you put with it, they’ll associate. So if snack is a picture is yogurt, they’ll think they’re having yogurt. So generic is best. I picked things that my son’s liked to eat and do. Toddler Visual Schedule. This awesome website also has a visual cards you can print out with generic images my toddlers love. I printed them, laminated them, and put them in the order I wanted on a paper to post on the wall. It was well worth the small cost.
If you want a visual activity choice list you can see this post I did.