How To Create A Realistic Stay At Home Mom Schedule With A Toddler

My stay at home mom schedule with a toddler can change from day to day depending on my daughter’s mood. Despite that, I’ve begun to learn how to be productive as a stay at home mom. 

how to create a realistic stay at home mom schedule with a toddler

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When it comes to toddler schedules, 3 types of moms exist…

Mom A: “What’s a schedule?! My toddler wakes up a whole new person every day!”

Mom B: “It’s not really a schedule, but a typical day looks like…”

Mom C: “7:00am: wake up and eat breakfast, 8:00am: get dressed, 8:30am: free play…”

If you’re mom A and you want to be more like mom B or C, you’ve come to the right place! 

You see, ever since I was a teenager I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I would watch The Real Housewives of Orange County and dream of sitting in my mansion sipping wine by the pool with the other stay at home moms while our kids played Marco Polo. 

Spoiler alert: that’s not even close to how I spend my days.

With a toddler, you never know what personality you’ll get when they wake up…like a jack in the box. 

But today we’ll figure out a stay at home mom toddler schedule that’ll work for your lifestyle. 

Take control of your time...

1. Daily cleaning checklist 
2. Speed cleaning checklist
3. Time blocking template 
4. Meal planner template
5. Morning routine checklist 
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Routine…? Schedule…? What’s the difference? 

A routine is a series of steps or a process you do around a particular time. 

For example, your toddler’s bedtime routine may go like this:

  • Bath
  • Pajamas
  • Read
  • Sleep 

Without a daily schedule, you may do this routine at 8pm one night and 9:30pm the next night. 

A schedule is a plan for something to take place at a particular time. On a daily schedule, your toddler’s bedtime routine would happen around 8:30pm every single night.

Routines are crucial because your toddler will learn what to expect. For instance, she knows when she puts on her zippered pajamas after a bath it’s time for bed.

A schedule makes your life easier and adds structure to your busy day. 

The secret sauce for sticking to your schedule 

Unfortunately, you can’t tell your child the schedule and he’s like, “sounds great mom!” It takes persistence and consistency for your child to adjust to the new schedule. 

Here are a few tips to help your toddler stick to the schedule:

  • Meals at the same time every day 
  • Bedtime and naps at the same time 
  • Schedule downtime or quiet time 
  • Tell your toddler what’s happening at each time (ex: “it’s time to read a story now”)
  • Be flexible 

When your toddler knows what to expect he’ll be less anxious and have fewer meltdowns. 

Related: How To Be Productive As A Stay At Home Mom

Little baby eating fruit puree indoors

Is daycare better than staying at home?

As a stay at home mom, you may feel like your child will flourish more in a daycare setting around other children his age. 

A recent study showed, “the more time children spent in child care, the more likely they were to be disobedient and have trouble getting along with others” which may be contrary to what you would’ve thought.

You can create structure in your home with a toddler schedule. Your toddler can interact with other children his age at these places:

  • Mommy and me classes
  • Library storytime
  • Gym childcare 
  • Children’s museum 
  • Mother’s day out program 
  • The park
  • Tinkergarten

Your child can flourish and have great learning experiences at home with you. Weigh the pros and cons for your family to decide if daycare may be a good option.  

Should you take your toddler outside every day?

Although it’s not necessary to take your toddler outside every day, there are some great benefits.

According to Harvard Medical School, some of these benefits include:

  • Sunshine and vitamin D
  • Exercise
  • Executive function- skills that teach your toddler prioritization and troubleshooting 
  • Taking risks
  • Socialization 
  • Appreciation of nature 

The weather doesn’t always allow for outdoor play, but when it’s nice outside get your toddler outdoors as much as possible. 

4 step method for creating your stay at home mom schedule with a toddler

A routine will not only be helpful to you, but it’ll also teach your toddler what to expect on a day to day basis. 

To get started creating your schedule, it’s important to plan around the needs of your toddler. What is she already used to doing? Start with her current routine and make small adjustments until you reach the desired schedule. 

Step 1: Write down ideal wake up time and sleep schedule

sleep times for creating stay at home mom toddler schedule

Step 2: Write down meal times

meal times for creating stay at home mom toddler schedule

Step 3: Create schedule

complete written schedule for creating stay at home mom toddler schedule

Step 4: Put schedule where you can see it daily

stay at home mom schedule with toddler hanging on refrigerator

5 sample stay at home mom schedules — from real moms!

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and get a free time blocking template to help you create your schedule) was kind enough to share with me their toddler’s schedules to help you get a few ideas and make adjustments to fit your daily routine. 

Note: toddlers learn through play so include plenty of playtime throughout your schedule. 

Sample schedule 13 months old:

  • 9:00am- Wake up
  • 9:15am- Breakfast
  • 9:45am- Morning activity
  • 11:00am- Snack
  • 11:30am- Playtime 
  • 12:30pm- Lunch
  • 1:00pm- Nap
  • 2:30pm- Afternoon activity
  • 3:00pm- Snack 
  • 3:30pm- Playtime/ family time
  • 6:30pm- Dinner
  • 7:30pm- Family time
  • 8:30pm- Bedtime routine
  • 9:00pm- Sleep

Sample schedule 18 months old:

  • 6:30am- Wake up & get dressed
  • 7:15am- Breakfast
  • 8:00am- Mother’s day out program
  • 12:00pm- Lunch (back at home)
  • 12:30pm- Nap
  • 2:00pm- Snack
  • 2:30pm- Crafts/play
  • 4:00pm- Educational tv
  • 4:30pm- Play outside 
  • 5:30pm- Dinner
  • 6:30pm- Bedtime routine/ quiet play
  • 7:30pm- Sleep

Sample schedule 21 months old:

  • 8:30am- Wake up and eat breakfast
  • 9:00am- Playtime
  • 10:30am- Snack
  • 11:00am- Playtime
  • 12:00pm- Lunch
  • 12:30pm- Nap 
  • 1:00pm- Run errands/ play date/ snack while out
  • 5:00pm- Playtime (back at home)
  • 6:30pm- Dinner
  • 7:30pm- Bedtime routine/ quiet playtime
  • 8:30pm- Sleep

Sample schedule 27 months old (with no nap):

  • 7:30am- Wake up, use potty, get dressed, brush teeth (“independently I’m just there for support” statement from mom)
  • 8:30am- Breakfast
  • 9:00am- Plays on tablet
  • 9:30am- Playtime
  • 11:30am- Lunch
  • 12:30pm- Outside
  • 1:30pm- Crafts
  • 2:30pm- Cartoons
  • 3:00pm- Snack
  • 4:00pm- Playtime 
  • 5:30pm- Dinner
  • 6:30pm- Bedtime routine
  • 7:00pm- Quiet play (potty right before bed)
  • 8:00pm- Sleep

Sample schedule 3 years old:

  • 8:00am- Wake up, potty, get dressed for the day
  • 8:30am- Breakfast 
  • 9:00am- Educational tv
  • 9:30am- Crafts/ playtime
  • 10:30am- Snack
  • 11:00am- Playtime
  • 12:00pm- Lunch
  • 1:00pm-Playtime 
  • 2:00pm- Flash cards
  • 2:30pm- Snack & tablet
  • 3:00pm- Independent play
  • 3:30pm- Family time
  • 6:00pm- Dinner
  • 7:00pm- Quiet play
  • 7:30pm- Bedtime routine
  • 8:00pm- Sleep

Take control of your time...

1. Daily cleaning checklist 
2. Speed cleaning checklist
3. Time blocking template 
4. Meal planner template
5. Morning routine checklist 
I NEED THIS NOW!
>

The mistakes you’re probably making [and how to fix them]

When creating your stay at home mom schedule, it’s easy to fall into traps that make it harder for you to be consistent with your new schedule. These simple tips and tricks will help you maximize your time and set you and your toddler up for success.  

1. Be realistic

You may try to squeeze in things you’ve been needing to get done for the last 6 months all into one day on your schedule. But don’t fall into the trap. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in one day with a toddler

Schedule time for you to relax as well because it’s not healthy for you to keep going, going, going without a break or any downtime. Even better, schedule a 20-minute catnap for yourself to help you re-energize.

2. Plan around nap time

Plan around your toddler’s nap times or times when they get fussy. You don’t want to schedule a doctor’s appointment right in the middle of nap time and now you have a cranky toddler for the rest of the day.

If your toddler doesn’t take naps anymore it’s important to incorporate quiet time. This will teach her how to play independently and give you time to re-energize during the day. 

3. Work with your body

I have the most energy in the mornings so that’s when I plan to get most of my tasks done. If I schedule a lot of tasks after my toddler’s bedtime when I have no energy and my eyelids feel like concrete slabs, most of it wouldn’t get done. 

Don’t force yourself to work against your body for the sake of getting things done. When you’re working on low energy it’s natural to put in low effort and be less efficient because you’re trying to get it done. Use your natural productive times to be more efficient and get things done faster. 

4. Be flexible

Being a type-A personality and a stay at home mom is pretty conflicting. You’ve had to learn that you no longer control everything in your environment. 

Be flexible with your schedule and plan for the toddler mood swings and your mood swings as well. One day you may wake up full of energy ready to conquer the world and other days may be a Netflix and chill mood. 

Don’t be so hard on yourself and give yourself grace to not be productive every single day.

5. Appreciate early mornings

I’ve noticed the days I sleep in, I tend to have less energy and be in a worse mood. Waking up before my daughter is essential for me to get in the right frame of mind to dominate the day. 

As hard as it may be to peel yourself out of bed, you’ll be glad you did it. Take this time to create a morning routine that gets you ready for an amazing day. 

Related: 9 time saving laundry hacks for when you’re overwhelmed

woman drinking coffee looking at phone while sitting in bed

6. Create mini routines 

Throughout the day I have mini routines that keep our household running like a well-oiled machine. My daily cleaning routine lowers my anxiety because I’m not overwhelmed by the mess and clutter. 

Simple habits like cleaning after meals makes less work for you than letting all the dishes pile up. 

7. Use timers

Set a timer for 20 minutes to clean the kitchen. You won’t be as stressed to get things done and you’ll start with the mindset that you’ll do as much as you can and if you don’t finish it’s fine. 

Find a way to keep for your toddler entertained while you race the clock. 

8. Batch housework 

Grouping similar tasks that require similar tools will save you time and energy. Task batching eliminates the time it takes your brain to process that you’ve moved onto a new task. 

This would be like dusting the entire house instead of only dusting the living room. Or wiping down all surfaces at once rather than wiping the kitchen countertops and starting the whole cleaning process over in the bathroom. 

9. Limit distractions 

The science behind social media is to keep us glued to our phones and their apps. It’s created to be addictive

Delete the apps off of your phone or lock yourself out of the apps for a certain amount of time to make it harder to access them. 

10. Prioritize yourself 

A nice bubble bath or pedicure refreshes your soul and makes life more bearable. 

Make your needs a priority

When you’re not functioning at 100%, your family suffers. You’re not the best version of yourself which means your toddler isn’t getting the best version of their mom. 

Take control of your time...

1. Daily cleaning checklist 
2. Speed cleaning checklist
3. Time blocking template 
4. Meal planner template
5. Morning routine checklist 
I NEED THIS NOW!
>

Oh no! My toddler is off their schedule. What should I do? 

When a toddler gets off their sleep schedule it throws off the rest of the schedule. A few tricks to help your toddler get back on their sleep schedule include: 

Use sunlight

Keep it bright and fun during the day so your toddler knows it’s time to be awake. When you’re ready for him to go to sleep make the environment more peaceful. You can:

  • Play lullabies
  • Use white noise
  • Talk in a soft voice
  • Explain that it’s quiet time

Sometimes you get your little one to sleep and notice they’re sleeping too long which will make it harder for him to go to sleep at the right bedtime. When you wake him up take him outside so the sunlight will help wake him up.

Limit screens

According to The Sleep Foundation, “The blue light that’s emitted from these screens [TV’s and electronic devices] can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later schedule. The end result: sleep-deprived or poorly rested kids who have essentially given themselves a mini case of jet lag.”

A good rule to establish is no screen time for anyone 90 minutes before bed. You’ll all feel more rested and be more productive. 

Slowly adjust bedtime

Your toddler may go to sleep at 10pm and you’d like her to go to sleep at 8:30pm. To accomplish this, slowly adjust her bedtime by 15 minutes each night. That looks like this: 

  • Night 1 bedtime: 10pm
  • Night 2 bedtime: 9:45pm
  • Night 3 bedtime: 9:30pm

Adjust the bedtime by 15-minute increments until you reach the desired bedtime. Once you reach the desired bedtime make sure you’re consistent every single night so you don’t undo all of your hard work. 

Stop toddler boredom and try this…

It’s no secret that toddlers are full of energy and can outlast the energizer bunny. They also have short attention spans which means you may run out of activity ideas before lunchtime. Here’s a list of 75 fun toddler activities guaranteed to keep your toddler entertained. 

Don’t forget about yourself…

Your toddler is entertained and your schedule is going as planned, then you notice you have no idea what to do with yourself during nap time or the extra hour of alone time after he goes to sleep. 

This list of stay at home mom hobbies will give you a creative outlet but a few more ideas would be: 

  • Cleaning 
  • Take a nap
  • Read a book 
  • Scroll social media
  • Take a bath
  • Watch Netflix

The possibilities are endless and you can play around with different options until you find what you enjoy doing. 

Take control of your time...

1. Daily cleaning checklist 
2. Speed cleaning checklist
3. Time blocking template 
4. Meal planner template
5. Morning routine checklist 
I NEED THIS NOW!
>

Quick recap…

This stay at home mom schedule with a toddler is a sure-fire way to become Mom C and have your days planned out which will increase your productivity. 

To be successful with your stay at home mom schedule: 

  • Be realistic
  • Plan around nap time
  • Work with your body
  • Be flexible 
  • Appreciate early mornings 
  • Create mini routines
  • Use timers
  • Batch housework 
  • Limit distractions 
  • Prioritize yourself

The key to make your schedule work is to be consistent. Test and adjust your schedule until it works for you and your little one. 

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Take control of your time...

1. Daily cleaning checklist 
2. Speed cleaning checklist
3. Time blocking template 
4. Meal planner template
5. Morning routine checklist 
I NEED THIS NOW!
>
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