Creating a Toddler Schedule | Structuring the Day for a Toddler

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Creating a daily toddler schedule can save your sanity. Believe me. I’ve raised five toddlers. Each one of them was challenging in their own way! If you’ve ever felt frustrated as a toddler mom {who hasn’t, right!?!} and you weren’t sure how to structure the day for a toddler, then you’ll want to keep reading.

I’m sharing ways you can structure the day for a toddler plus you’ll find my suggested sample schedule and a free printable toddler schedule you can use today!

This is a MUST READ! Learn how to structure the day for a toddler. @ AVirtuousWoman.org

You want to know how to make this season of motherhood easier. You want to be a great mom and you love your little one more than you ever thought possible! But sometimes it’s really hard.

I remember when my first child was born, he was such a good baby! So imagine my surprise when he was about 18 months old and turned into the most strong willed child I ever gave birth to! In fact, I struggled so bad to figure out how to make our days work. It was hard. And honestly, I didn’t get it right – right off the bat – and I didn’t even get it right all the time once I figured things out.

Creating a toddler schedule, a rhythm to your day, as a toddler mom can go a long way to making your life easier and giving your toddler a sense of boundaries and routine.

Creating a Daily Toddler Schedule

So before I get into how you can create a daily toddler schedule that works well for you, I want to say this:

I’m sharing tips that worked well for me.

Some of what I’m sharing may seem like common sense, but it can be so hard to see things objectively, I’m just going to be real with you and lay it all out.

I also want you to know that anything I’ve written here is just a suggestion – one mom sharing with another mom.

That’s it. If it doesn’t work for you – that’s okay! This is not the gospel.

God gave your child the perfect mom. You are exactly who your child needs. You will do well, even when you think you are failing. And those mistakes you’ll make along the way? God has a lot of mercy and grace for moms, so take heart!

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

The Proverbs 31 Mom wasn’t Super-Mom

Her children arise and call her blessed…” Proverbs 31:28

Remember that the example of the Proverbs 31 Woman in the Bible was a good mom, but that doesn’t mean she was a super-mom. She managed her home well and she had help! Don’t ever feel like you are less of good mom if you need to ask for help. It’s okay and even a good thing to ask for help.

Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak. We all need help sometimes! God created us to need one another.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” Exodus 18:14-18

I recently had a mom ask me this question below and I believe that most moms, really great moms, face these same issues when raising their little ones.

Structured Routine for Toddlers | Q & A

Q: Melissa, Thanks so much for your reply. I haven’t tried a more structured routine because I fear I cannot keep being consistent with it. He does spend a lot of time alone during the day as I tend my 1 year old (nursing, changing, etc.) I have never considered him being alone causing his independence, but I can see where it would.

I do not feel like an adequate mother because at times I do raise my voice and get irritated when I am interrupted. I feel pulled in a million directions and often resent the time I have to spend with all the responsibilities I have.  Any advice on a good toddler routine for a 3 1/2 yr old, with a still nursing on occasion 1 year old? Thanks!!!

A: Dear Mom, toddlers can be very trying or very rewarding. I remember when my son who is just about to turn 19 was  3 1/2 years old and I had a newborn baby girl. At the time I was very young and despite my best efforts I just didn’t know how to handle him. I have learned a lot since then! It’s too bad that sometimes our firstborn children don’t get the best of us.

A lot of things can affect the behavior of your toddler. A calm child is more likely to come from a calm home and vice versa. Keep in mind here, that there are exceptions to the rule! But generally this is the case.

Your three year old knows that when you sit down to nurse the baby that you are distracted. He also knows when you are distracted with other tasks whether it is changing a diaper, cooking a meal, cleaning the house, or reading a book.

Three year old toddlers naturally want to take advantage of the situation!

Not only that, but your three year old wants your attention, so if he is occupying himself for large portions of the day his behavior will be more difficult. That’s why having a routine and creating a toddler schedule can really help you not feel so overwhelmed plus give him a healthy of boundaries.

I know how easy it is to want to “escape” from reality by sitting down with a book, computer, television, etc. – ignoring the little tyke as he pulls all of the books off the shelf or gets into the refrigerator. You just want peace and quiet!

I also know how easy it is to feel like a three year old is a needy little monster who is sucking the life out of you. So, when you are trying to get your TO DO LIST accomplished, interruptions are not pleasant. You just want to get your stuff done and get on with your life!

So, let’s talk about what to do. 

How to Structure the Day for a Toddler @ AVirtuousWoman.org ------ This is a MUST READ for moms of toddlers!

Let me tell you though – I have been there and now that my 18 going on 19 year old is practically grown, I really wish I had taken more time to sit on the floor with him and listened to him talk to me, play with me, interact with me. In other words I wish I had spent more time being “present.”

I was there, but my mind was elsewhere.

Thankfully, by the time he was school age I had a wake up call because I realized how fast my children were growing up and I have spent the last dozen years or more “being present.”

Jesus has given us the honor of being a mom. Our first and foremost ministry is not to our friends, it’s not to our church, it’s not to ourselves – it is to our family – our husbands and children. This time passes by so quickly!

I know it seems like forever when all you feel is frustration and sorrow. But this will pass and you will wonder where the years went.

There’s a saying: The days are long but the years are short.

Creating a daily routine for your toddler will go a long way in helping you with feeling frustrated and exhausted. But the truth is, motherhood is hard and raising toddlers is rarely easy. There is no way to make that not true.

When you do feel frustrated, remember to stop and pray. Your prayer doesn’t have to be alone in a closet to be effective. You can cry out to Jesus anytime you need His grace.

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” Jeremiah 31:25

It’s okay to take a time out from time to time and read a book or soak in the tub. And it is okay to insist that the house be kept neat and tidy. It  is even good for your kids to know that responsibilities are important.

But don’t forget that being there for your kids, paying attention to what they are doing – even when you’d rather be somewhere else – is in the end going to make everyone happier. Including yourself.

I often hear (and witness) moms who complain about their toddlers creating havoc in the home everyday. The child makes huge messes, throws temper tantrums, insists on having his way all the time. But my question is always this – what is Mom doing when little Timmy is making that huge mess?

If you are in the kitchen cooking supper and little Timmy is in the living room pulling all of the tape out of the VCR tapes – the problem does not lie with the child, it lies with the mom. She has allowed her little mischievous child to be alone for 30 minutes while she prepares the meal (which is a worthy endeavor). Rather than allowing him unsupervised access to the living room (or any other part of the house) put up a gate and insist he stay in the kitchen with you while you cook. Then, give him activities to keep him busy.For instance:

  • give him a drawer of pots or toy dishes he can play with
  • feed him grapes or carrot stick while he waits for supper
  • pull out a special coloring book reserved just for that same time each day
  • let him tear up lettuce for the salad, stir the cornbread batter, or shake the “Shake and Bake”

If your toddler helps himself to the fridge every time you sit down to nurse the baby (or whatever), instead of letting him have free reign of the house, put up a gate and give him a box of blocks or other toy to play with. One of my favorite ideas is to make Activity Bags for your toddler. Get them out only when you nurse the baby or at the same time each day when you need to get a chore done.

So, my point is, toddlers are going to get into stuff, if for no other reason than to test your parenting skills!

Don’t leave your toddler unattended! The other issue with leaving your child alone to occupy himself is the fact that is causes your child to feel insecure and unsure of himself. He realizes that the boundaries are too wide and what he really wants is structure and solid boundaries to keep him safe.

Having reasonable rules and limits to what is acceptable behavior gives children a feeling of being loved and cared for.

How to Structure the Day for a Toddler @ AVirtuousWoman.org ------ This is a MUST READ for moms of toddlers!

Note: This is not to say you should not train your children to be well behaved, stay out of things they should be into, etc. Those are much needed lessons to be taught. But until you can trust your children to be alone in a room without making a huge mess, supervise them.

Also, every child is different. My girls were/ are very quiet, they like to play quiet games, then rarely ever break anything. My son was always into everything as a toddler. I had to watch him like a hawk.

5 Tips for Structuring Your Toddler’s Day: Video

Sample Toddler Schedule

Here is a good routine for a mom with a toddler and infant:

This schedule is a suggestion based on what worked for me. Remember, every child is different and every family is different. You may find you need to make adjustments to this same toddler schedule below – and that’s okay!

6:00 amWake up. Have devotions and prayer time – if baby is awake, nurse her during this time. Prepare Breakfast.

7:00 am – Wake up toddler. Make beds. Get dressed. Eat Breakfast. Morning Worship – sing some fun songs, have a Bible story, and pray.

8:00 amChore Time for Mom – Tidy kitchen & sweep, tidy bathrooms & wipe down sinks, start load of laundry,10 minute de-clutter. During this time you can do one of two things with the little ones – put the gate up and let them play with toys. Or let them watch PBS. I know television as a baby sitter [sigh]. It works.

9:00 am –  Play time.

10:30 am – Snack time.

11:30 am – Pick up toys. Prepare lunch.

12:00 pm – Eat lunch. Tidy Kitchen.

1:00 pm – Playtime with Mommy.

2:00 pm – Nap/ Quiet time. Afternoon chores for Mommy – fold & put away clothes, mop floors, tidy house, etc.

4:00 pm – Play Outside time in good weather. Or Play Inside during bad weather, in which case at 4:45 have children pick up toys. Don’t just tell your toddler to clean up his toys. Work beside him. Also, having toys well organized makes this much easier. Teach your child from an early age to only get one toy out at a time. HUGE time saver!

5:00 pm – Prepare supper.

6:00 pm – Eat supper.

7:00 pmFamily Worship.

7:30 pm – Bath time. Story time.

8:00 pm – Bed time for kids.

9:00 pm – Tidy kitchen. Prepare for tomorrow.

Once you do a routine everyday, your child will begin to know what to expect and when. Eating at about the same time is really helpful and can prevent a lot of temper tantrums caused by low blood sugar (hunger)! Patience in dealing with your children is really key – a calm mommy is more likely to have a calm baby/ child. If you always respond with a tense/ angry voice why should you expect any different from your child?

Don’t NOT try to get into a good solid routine just because you are afraid of failing. Never forget that tomorrow is a new day!

related: My Most Embarrassing Mom Moment Ever.

God can give you the strength to be the best mom possible for your children. It isn’t easy. Raising kids just isn’t. But it is worth every bit of effort!

Action Steps to Take Today

  1. Read this verse in your Bible: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time… Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
  2. Ask God to help you create a toddler schedule that will work well for you and your family.
  3. Print out my free printable daily toddler schedule below. Use the sample toddler schedule to help you create your own daily routine.
  4. Adjust your toddler schedule as you learn what works best for you. You can print more than one copy and update it as needed.

Free Printable Daily Toddler Schedule

How to Structure the Day for a Toddler @ AVirtuousWoman.org ------ This is a MUST READ for moms of toddlers! FREE PRINTABLE!

How to Get the Printable & Use

  1. Just fill out the form below {at the bottom of this page} and you’ll receive an email with the link to your free printable sampled toddler schedule. You’ll also receive helpful emails and updates from me on a regular basis!
  2. Print out the free printable toddler schedule as well as a blank version for you to fill in with your own ideas. Structuring the day for your toddler doesn’t have to be complicated!
  3. If you are already a subscriber, you can still fill out the form below to get the free printable – it won’t affect your subscription!

Parenting Books to Read

  1. Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting
  2. Parenting Boot Camp
  3. The 5 Love Languages of Children
  4. Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing CLEAR, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries

More Articles in this Series

Have you seen the Purpose 31 Planner?

I designed this planner with the mom/ and busy woman in mind. Believe me. I’ve been there. I’m STILL there.

The Purpose 31 Homemaking Planner is the best planner for busy moms!

The Purpose 31 Homemaking Planner Printable @ AVirtuousWoman.org

How to Structure the Day for a Toddler

Get my free printable suggested schedule as well as a blank schedule for you to use in planning your day with your toddler when you subscribe!

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  1. Wow! I just wanted to tell you how good this was for me to read, and I don't even have nursing babies or toddlers anymore! I do, however, have a 4 year old (my youngest) who thinks he rules the roost whenever I get distracted. So, thanks for the awesome reply. AND! I wanted to thank you for the Momma's Day Planner! I won it from Heart of the Matter and I wasn't sure how the proper "thank you" etiquette was for blogging. So, I will thank you here : Thank you very much!!!! And I will post a proper thanks on my blog and shamelessly plug A Virtuous Woman. :) Thank you and keep up the good work. :)
  2. Melissa, Thanks so much for this reply!! It is so informative, and many of the techniques I can put to good use, such as putting up a gate. I have tried this in the past and he wasn't very happy with it, so I always took it down. I know now I am the one who is in charge, not him!!! Will definitely try this routine! Thanks again!
    1. Hi! Thanks alot for the tips. My daughter is about to turn 4 and it's really hard for me to set a routine with all things going around at home. I home these tips might help me. Also, recently I've started to write blogs. Do check my website www.lemonchunk.com I'm open for suggestions and would like to be in touch. [email protected] Have a nice day!
  3. I struggle with this constantly. I know well enough that my day will go so much better if I had better structure. Today was not a good day for me or the children. I have not had enough sleep this week, which made me very impatient and frustrated easily. I got up this morning and did things that I wanted to do for myself, rather than taking care of things that needed to be done. This led to problems and irritations for the rest of the day. Entirely my fault, but it was the kids who took the brunt of my frustration. Thank you for this post. I will be printing it and working much harder to gain some structure. I want to enjoy my children and the days that I spend with them, not have regrets at the end of the day.
  4. Hallelujah, a schedule that works (presumably) with toddlers/preschoolers! I can't tell you how hard it is to get on/ find a routine that works for families with children under the age of 6 (at least the oldest under that age). I am definitely going to try this, it looks like something I can live with. I have a 3 year old boy, a 20 month old girl and one who is half way here (almost 5 months along). I may have to tweak to deal with the extra needed sleep for pregnancy but I am hopeful. Besides, it has a lot of the elements that I have found work for me. Thank you so much!
    1. You are absolutely right Anna!. And thank you Melissa for making this website it's sooo wonderful. I'm 21 years old and I have a 3 year old. He is such an amazing behaved baby. Sometimes when I'm studying, he just plays by himself or watches T.V. I'm still going to school and my husband works alot so it's tough doing it all by myself in some days. This will truly help me. I just don't want him to think I'm boring so I put in some time reading the Bible and singing worship songs. I truly think that's important and all three of us do devotions before we go to bed. I'm pretty structured but I fall back once in awhile and this time, I'm going to devote my time into my child. They grow so fast and I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can. Thank you so much again!. God bless you and your family. Merry Christmas! =))
  5. Lifesaving tips. God bless you bunches!! I have been praying for this kind of insight for a long time. Praise God for what He has and is doing in you!
  6. There are a lot of chore times during this routine and I wonder if the kids could help with the chores instead of doing something else while Mom does the chores. Kids are happier if they have a little job to do that means something.
  7. I've been looking for more structure with my 2-year-old daughter during the days and I'm going to give that schedule a shot, thanks! ps. My daughter was born 7 days after this blog post was originally posted. I guess good information never dies
  8. ...and I think it's good to remember that some days, it's okay to throw the routine out the window! And also, unless we have somewhere important to be, I always let my kids sleep in until they wake up naturally, which means I often get a little extra prep time to think through the day and maybe finish my coffee! I don't necessarily schedule our day to the hour; I have two "portions" of the day - before nap and after nap. Depending on what needs to happen that day, I like to get the chores done around the house, then everyone (even me!) rests at nap, then we conquer the errands in the afternoon before it's time to work on dinner. If daddy needs to work late, then I'll most likely pop something in the crock pot before nap, then come home just in time to set the table. It's so important to remember to tweak and adjust your schedule to make it work for you, and not to become a slave to it. Kids notice stressed out moms usually before the moms notice how they are feeling!
  9. Hello! I saw this pinned today on a friend's pinterest and gave it a read. This is very very good. I have an 18 month old boy who is very active. BUT I am happy to say that I already follow basically this type of schedule and it does really work. Since we do have set eating times I find my son going to his booster seat at 4:30 for dinner and I'm thinking oh yes time to eat, if I have forgotten. It really does help to have meals prepared or halfway prepared so that I can spend more time with him. I have cut out all computer time during the day except for in the very early morning while he is playing with his toys after breakfast. He likes a bit of time to himself and he usually comes and pulls on my leg when he is ready for me to play with him. We dont even own a TV. He gets up at 6am, usually naps 10-11, and then bedtime at 6 pm. I really am grateful for those few evening hours by myself because then I can clean, prepare for the next day, and/or be with my husband. Thanks for posting this! Not every day is ideal but it does help to try to stick to some type of guideline. I totally agree with never leaving them unattended. That is definitely asking for trouble!
  10. p.s. I do involve my son in cooking when Im cooking but most of the time we do crockpot meals. But he loves mixing Rice Krispies around in a bowl if Im mixing something too. He also is right there with a swiffer sweeper when I am mopping. He is mommy's little helper! I dont agree with waking up kids in the morning if you dont have any place to be. I let my son wake up naturally. Dont want a grumpy little guy at the very beginning of the day.
  11. Thanks so much! I've been struggling with how to schedule my day with my 2 yr. old at home by herself while the other two are in school. This helped so much.
  12. I saw this on Pinterest and was immediately interested. In about 6 weeks, i am going to resigning from my position and entering the world of a stay at home mom/housewife, which after much contemplation and prayer, I believe to be the most important calling for my life right now. As I try to prepare for this new endeavor, I have been reading blogs voraciously trying to get as many tips and tricks for creating a well run, clean, maintained home. On top of all of these changes, my son and I will be moving every 6-8 months with my husband because of his job. Life is going to get crazy hectic and fast. Thanks for providing such blessed tips and tricks for running a grace filled home that honors both God and the family.
  13. It's good for children to be independent! My son loves playing in his playroom. It's important at this age to teach boundaries. My son is 3 and he knows not to play with the stove or open the refrigerator. Putting up gates doesn't teach impulse control, discipline does. I also don't believe in laying down with him at bedtime. After his bath we read two books and snuggle but then he lays down in his bed and independently drifts to sleep, we've had this routine since he was one and no problems,not even during weaning. I guess I'm just saying I agree parents need to be present, but also need to have boundaries, expectations and consequences.
  14. I just thought that I would comment and say thank you for the post. I'm grateful for the spiritual nature that was included. I found a link to you on pinterest and loved that you made a little picture just for ease of pinning. Thank you!
  15. I LOVE what you said about being present, and I am often guilty of trying to escape behind a computer while my 11 mo. old plays by himself! I should be present more often, so thanks for helping me realize that :)
  16. I like what you said about being present, but in your schedule you don't mention daily interruptions like volunteering at school or going to the grocery store. I seem to go somewhere 3 or 4 times a week and they are at different times. Am I doing a larger disservice to my elementary aged kids by not volunteering or my toddler by not being scheduled. PS Your house sounds clean!
  17. My son is in college now, but looking back I realize Moms can get distracted when they spend too much time with only children as an outlet. I would have a young girl come over and help after school and pay her alittle something for a couple hours. If not in the budget try putting earphones on the older child to listen to a story while preparing dinner.
  18. This is something I have been thinking about lately. I only have one daughter, 3 years old, but I love having structure in my life, and I believe she would benefit as well. I just feel like I don't know how to create the structure we need. Thank you for sharing the daily timetable. I think it looks very broken down, and perfect for me.
  19. Wise words, and a helpful schedule. I follow most of this schedule already and can testify that it works! I just wanted to add to the discussion that I struggle with the idea that it isn't good to sleep as long as your children sleep in the mornings and that that makes you "that kind of mom". Personally, I struggle with never getting enough sleep and perpetual fatigue, and if I can get an extra hour in the mornings and sleep as long as my daughter sleeps, I will because it makes me a better Mom and wife that day. For those of us who have husbands with evening responsibilities, going to bed extra early is not always an option without cheating him. Being pregnant and/or having a night-nursing baby, as many moms of toddlers do, compounds the problem and makes skimping yourself of an extra hour of sleep, in some cases, irresponsible. I hope that when my children are older, sleep through the night consistently, and are less demanding during the day, getting more solid rest at night and waking up earlier before them will be possible - I think it will be. But I think it lays an unnecessary guilt trip on pregnant/nursing/moms-of-little-ones to tell them they should be voluntarily giving up sleep when they are already so exhausted. We all know how cranky and ungodly we can be when we are tired! And for others, it leads to depression and anxiety. Sleep is important, and one of the keys to making us good moms. Let's not discourage those of us who lay the housework aside and nap when our baby naps, or are excited that we got an extra half hour of sleep when the toddler decided to sleep in a little bit that day. You can find ways to still fit in time with God and make mornings pleasant. For example, I still make an effort to smile and greet my toddler joyfully when I get her out of her crib, even if I'm jerked out of sleep and still groggy. Also, I love that she actually sees me do my devotions every morning, even if I am more distracted than if I were alone.
    1. Leah, I totally agree! Sleep is so important and one of the Eight Laws of Health! And in life there are seasons. I have struggled with sleep deprivation for the last couple of years {and with my health} and I can testify that not getting enough sleep can really affect the rest of your life. I wanted to respond to your comment in depth... http://avirtuouswoman.org/2013/05/13/mama-needs-sleep/ Thanks for visiting with me today! God bless you!
  20. I came across this pin on Pinterest, and was excited to read it because I have a nearly 3 year old and a newborn. But I have to say, I felt more judgement than workable suggestions, and that disappointed me. Apparently, I'm "that kind of mom". My toddler has always (and will always) sleep on her own because that's healthy. And the one hour of the day that has any sort of quiet time and peace for the mother includes making breakfast and feeding the baby- necessary things, of course, but if moms are only allowed 20 minutes or so of a mental break every day, then I wonder how well any of us will do. The idea of a schedule is great, but this was a hard read for me.
    1. Hi Erika, thanks for your comments. I'm sorry you felt judged as that was not my intention. This is the sort of schedule I kept when each of my five children were young. I was only offering suggestions based on what worked for me. I hope you are blessed as a mother - it's such an important work! Differing opinions happen and I don't expect everyone to agree with me. But I am sure you are a great mom and love your kids very much! Thanks for visiting and I hope you'll come again soon. God bless you!
  21. I really enjoyed some of the things you mentioned! However I do think its important to note not everyone has toddlers/babies that sleep until 7 (I know you weren't suggesting that necessarily, but it kind of felt that way.) My son wakes up at 5:30/6:00 every day and waking up any earlier than him is extremely difficult for me, especially since I'm pregnant. Even when I wasn't pregnant, I tried waking up earlier to get my day going, but my son is a light sleeper---so he'd wake up when I did and it would be worse for him (losing sleep). He naps 2 hrs a day and goes to bed at 8 so I feel I have a good routine there. But a lot of children are early risers, and I think your comment of being "that mom" unintentionally isolates moms who wake up when their children do and make them feel judged. I love waking up to my son jumping in our bed and giving us a snuggle for about 10-15 minutes. After about 15 minutes he says he's hungry for breakfast and I grab some homemade oatmeal (pre-prepared) and heat it up. It's so easy for us and he doesn't seem to be bothered by it. Just wanted you to see why some moms may have felt hurt by the "that mom" comment. I know as a fellow believer you would have never intentionally said hurtful words to your readers or words you felt would rub others the wrong way. But I felt it was worth mentioning. I also want to thank you for your time in sharing what works for you and your children. It is truly a blessing to be able to share on the Internet with other moms advice and insights that can lead us into being more godly mothers.
    1. Hi Emily! I have a daughter named Emily. :) I really appreciate your comment. Absolutely, if you have a young child who wakes up that early, stay in bed! As I've mentioned before, this schedule is a suggestion based on what worked for me. I mentioned this type of situation in my article: How to Wake Up without Waking the Kids. I suggest having your devotions at the breakfast table or whenever you feel is convenient for you if this is the case. Your children won't be little forever. I am certainly not perfect and to this day I struggle from time to time with consistently having my personal devotions! It was not my intention in any way to judge other moms or make anyone feel bad. When I wrote this article and mentioned "that mom" I wasn't thinking of moms who are intentional about their days. Some kids literally have to beg their moms for food. I've known moms like that - they stay up late because of selfish reasons (watching television, computer time, etc.) and then want to sleep in in the morning. I talk about that here: Mama Needs Sleep. Every family's situation is different. AND THAT'S OKAY. For instance, over the last decade I have struggled with chronic illness and being VERY sick for weeks or months at a time where I can do little more than lay in bed. I don't get up and fix breakfast when I'm sick unless I'm feeling strong enough. Sometimes my kids cook for me. This article is only a suggestion that hopefully will help some and maybe give others ideas about how they can tweak their own schedule to make their day run smoother. God bless you in your work as a mother. There is no higher calling!
  22. So, what I am wondering is what do your kids really do all day? Do you have an activity for them every time while you clean, make snacks, dinner, or take a phone call, or do they watch T.V.? I don't mean to sound critical, but while you are doing cleaning at 8am to 9am, they play in a playpen happily? And then you play with them from 9- 10:30am, they have snack for an hour? I am actually really struggling to cut the amount of tv my son watches during the day while I go about a similar schedule you have outlined. What I am looking for is a schedule of what Mom does, and a schedule of what the kids are doing. Obviously, these will over lap when Mom and kids play together, but I want to know how often that occurs every day and for how long. You seem like you are a very kind woman and wouldn't mind sharing some more details. Thank you very much:) :)
  23. Hi! I am a mommy to a 4 month old and a 2 year old. This is what our day looks like : 730 mommy time 8 make breakfast 815 get the babies up Eat breakfast /nurse baby 9-10 am Quiet activity for toddler at table (play dough) Independent play time for baby Chore time for mommy 10-1130 Nap time for baby Mommy and toddler time (we read, play, or do something educational) 1130 - 12 Lunch/nurse baby 1215 toddler nap time Baby play time with mommy 130 Baby goes down for a nap Mommy time/prep dinner/clean/work out/craft. 330 Baby and toddler up Free time/walk out side/nurse baby 4pm Baby down for last nap Toddler gets 1/2 hour of "elmo" Mommy makes dinner 430 Dinner/nurse baby 5-6pm Bath pjs stories milk brush teeth bedtime snuggles nurse baby 6pm Bed time 6-10pm Mommy & daddy time
  24. I do follow this basic type of schedule. I struggle to keep by twin boys out of stuff. Gates only help so much because they can break through more together. I read one a story and the other gets into something bad.
  25. Hello, I just started reading your blog and so far I love it:) I am trying to be a better wife and Mother. I have a request if you would. I seen you had an example daily schedule for a 2 year old and a baby. i liked how you carved out time in the morning for prayer and devotion than breakfast and more worship after and then you had worship at night. I have been trying to spend more time with the Lord as well and it's pretty hard with a 1 year old. If you have the time maybe you can give me an example schedule as well./ I am a stay at home mom and I am still breastfeeding as well. If you can I appreciate it.:) thanks again for this Beautiful blog I know with Gods help and the materials you provide I can be a better Wife and mother. Spending time with Jesus in prayer and his word is the main thing. God bless you and for all you do.
    1. Janelle, nurturing your relationship with Christ will make a big difference in how your day overall. I'm glad to hear you're working on getting in some prayer time each day. Family worship is so important too. I will see if I can post a new schedule soon. I breastfed for a total of 12 years! So glad you stopped by. It's nice to meet you. God bless!
      1. Thank you so much for getting back with me. I'd love to chat as well. We all need as much encouragement as we can get. I am kind of discouraged right now with all the demands that life is throwing me. Cooking, cleaning, house wife, mother and errands. It gets over whelmin. I wouldn't know that to do if I didn't have Jesus helping me. Hanks for taking the time to do what you do the information is so helpful:) God bless hope we can talk soon.
  26. Do you have any tips on how to handle bedtime with an almost 4-year-old and a newborn? Before the baby, we did the cuddling, storytime, lay together for a while bedtime. But now that I'm nursing, it's tricky...and I'm alone two nights a week while my husband is at the fire station. :(
  27. Kids do need structure and that's very important. I believe a part of the structure should include a little time for independent play. Not suggesting for long times but you really don't want a child who can do nothing without your guidance.and I really think sleeping with them is a bad idea.
  28. I love your schedule and suggestions here. I think our lives were a lot more structured the younger my kids were. I suppose that is out of necessity. We lack structure is so many ways now.
  29. Wow wonderful ideas. I am new to the blog and a first time mom. This is really helpful . Thank you so much Lisa. You are a life saver
  30. I am so pleased to say I didn't realise until I read your suggested routine that I pretty much already have one! In saying that, I do leave my toddler to his own devices when I am cooking dinner. He normally doesn't create too much havoc but I'll start getting him to draw or help me more when I am in the kitchen. Stopping by from #happinessishomemade
  31. Great stuff! I wish I would have put more structure in my children's life when they were this age. Thanks for sharing!
  32. Great tips! I really needed to read this. I have a 3 year old and a 3 month old, and everyday I feel like the 3 year old isn't getting the attention she needs. I'm busy tending to the baby or trying to cook dinner, etc. I've been wanting to get into a routine, so thanks for providing your routine as a guide. Not sure about getting up at 6am though... I am NOT a morning person, especially after being up until 3am with the baby... :-)
  33. I have one little girl who isn't quite a toddler yet, but this was a great thing to read for me. Thank you!
  34. God bless you! Thank you soo much for this. I was just talking to my husband last night that we needed to change things as we feel we have hit rock bottom. We were talking about we need to make a structure and need to incorporate god more into our children's life. And I feel I stumbled across this for a reason. I literally cried, looked up and thanked god for leading me to it. A little about us... I am 21, I have a 2 1/2 year old son, a 10 month old son and am 4 months pregnant. My 2 year old is a handful. He doesnt listen, when we go anywhere, especially the store, all he does is scream and we have tried so many things... We did the whole not giving in, taking snacks and activities to keep him entertained, and have tried being strict and spanking but nothing works. I'm gunna try the structuring for at the house but would you happen to have any advice for when we go out, we really could use any help. Thanks.
  35. Super helpful tips! I'm wondering if anyone has any advice for a homeschooling mama, with preteen boys and a toddler girl? It seems like whenever I'm working with one, the other is running around (or at least not doing what they should be). I'm having a hard time finding a balance as a sahm with such a large age gap between babies. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  36. Wow. This looks like a really gentle schedule. I'm pinning this for when my second child comes. Some routines seem really rigid, and this looks like it allows you to be flexible and spend time loving your babies.
  37. I love the reminder to keep kids entertained while cooking. It is always more peaceful and fun when I take the time to plan for the kiddos! http://www.catholickidsbulletin.com
  38. Hi again, please ignore my previous question. This was the first blog I read, and now that I am more familiar with you I can see there will be lots to read on homeschooling:) Thank you! Jenna
  39. I saw this on pinterest, and I just have to comment that I really don't think a 3-year-old should be supervised every moment of the day. My little guy will go downstairs to our playroom and play with blocks and cars unattended and now my 21-month old will join him from time to time. I love standing at the top of the steps and hearing their little giggles and make-believe stories as they play on their own. Do they get in trouble once in awhile? Yes! But, that is how they learn that chalk is for the chalk table and not the wall, and with swift action they learn not to do it again. Giving appropriate amounts of freedom as children grow and learnis a really important step to take now while the stakes are low (I can clean chalk, but I won't always be able to fix all their mistakes).
  40. Hi Melissa, I have three kids age 3 and two times 2 years. So toddler mood is in full swing. I really like your list, but: When in all of that is "Mom Time". The time for a bath or a book or even surfing the web? I understand that spending time with your little ones should come first, but for me i go crazy if i don't have any "me time" at all. I suppose in your schedule mom time would come after the kids are in bed? Love, Kat
    1. Hi Kat, this schedule is simply what I used when my kids were young and it's just a suggestion! I generally had "me time" either in the mornings before they woke up and/or after they went to bed or during nap time. It worked well for me. :)
  41. I love how you tallk about being present, but this does not leave anytime for me on here--- do you women not have hobbies-- cleaning is not my hobby. * sigh* back to finding new schedule that wil work
    1. Hi Caitlin, This is the schedule I used when my kids were younger, and it's just a suggested resource. It's certainly not something I think everyone needs to follow to a T. :) Early mornings or late evenings were usually when I found "me time" or even during nap time. And cleaning is not my hobby by any stretch of the imagination. My hobbies have included over the years writing, reading, scrapbooking, sewing, hiking, and more.
    1. Hi! Actually, my son {firstborn} was extremely strong willed and was so difficult when he was young I considered giving him to my parents to raise - and I'm not exaggerating when I say that. But with lots of tears, prayer, and patient training, he's a kind, loving, and productive 24 year old today. Being a mom isn't easy and it can very overwhelming - not to mention physically and emotionally exhausting. My two older girls cried themselves to sleep every night and would cry for hours sometimes. Things changed though when I began snuggling with my kids to put them to bed instead of just putting them to bed. It really worked for me! My schedule above is simply a suggestion. It's not something I think every mom NEEDS to follow. I am simply sharing what worked for me. I understand how frustrating parenting can be at times. I have cried more than my fair share of tears over my kids. But I really believe that patience and consistent training are key. God bless you in your journey! You might like to read: - How to Train Up a Child: http://avirtuouswoman.org/2013/03/22/child-training-day-20/ - How to Become a Patient Mom: http://avirtuouswoman.org/how-to-become-a-patient-mom/
  42. So... At 8:00 pm you stuffed your first 3 children into bed and spanked them, when they wouldn't stay put? Well... I am currently rising my first child and I must say, I already feel like being a better mom than you can ever be. Don't you think your first 3 children will remember you hitting them and resent you for the injustice later in life? Let me tell you, they will. Yes, even it wasn't hard. Children recognize injustice mor e than anything. How could it take raising 4 children until you realized, you could just put your children to bed properly and peacefully? Did you not want to invest the time? Did your husband not want to prepare his own dinner? To me, a person spanking their children at a regular basis is not a true christian but a pretending hypocrite. How did your instincts not tell you, you were messing up? I must say, I am buffled who's calling themselves a christian in america.
    1. Thank you, Lia. I appreciate your opinion. I was sharing my experience and I am grown up enough to admit when I made mistakes. Thankfully, I have a Father in heaven who shows mercy on me - and I learned from my mistakes. And actually, I have a very good relationship with all of my kids - in fact I wrote about it here just a few days ago. http://avirtuouswoman.org/respect-your-child/ So, thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you're a great mom. I'm sure you had a great role model and if you never make mistakes as a parent, you're kids will be the luckiest kids in the world. God bless you!
    2. Wow Lia. Parenting is not easy. I will admit I was spanked growing up and I don't feel like resenting my parents for any injustice. I will even quote from my brother he said "he deserved more spankings." I have kids of my own and I feel with each one I am looking for different ways of doing things. Just remember that we are all human and not in any way made perfect whether we are Christians or not. The only difference is true Christians have asked to be forgive and sometimes Christians ask over and over to be for given. Unfortunately we are not the ones to judge others. Leave that to God when we are done here on earth. Melissa thanks for your suggestion with your schedule. I think it was very helpful and I do realize that whether we (as anyone reading this) choose to spank or not that should be up to us. There are many ways to raise children now days. I just pray that the parents who choose to spank don't take in extreme and for the wrong reasons.
  43. if i could add to the list of books to read, i recently found on amazon a cute short story (not like other long ones that keep my baby more awake because they are too long), take a look at Sleep well my baby, i don't know who the author is, but this kind of short stories are my favorite for bed time.
  44. Love the importance of structure of the day for the toddler as well as our responsibility. I just miss if father available importance of teamwork.
  45. Why do you allow an hour for eating dinner? I've wondered often why this takes so long and do you include cleaning up in that time? What are the kids doing when you have finished eating and before Family Worship?
    1. Yes, the hour for dinner could include cleaning up the kitchen. In our house, we tend to linger over dinner, especially now that the kids are older, because we talk a lot. You could have your toddler spend some time with Dad while you clean the kitchen or have a quiet activity for him to do while you work.
  46. Melissa your article was heaven sent. I am a mom of an 18 yr old, 3 yr old and 9th old. I was a working mom with my first and decided to stay home when I found out I was pregnant with my second. Little did I know I would get pregnant with a third and it has been a challenge. God has been working on me and my heart when it comes to serving my family, because I do not have a joyful heart doing it. It's not that I don't love my family, it's just not an area I feel accomplished in. I've worked my whole life and that comes easy to me. The role of a stay home mom doesn't! Recently I have been praying for God to provide me tools that can help me be better serving my family and here I come across your article. Thank you for your transparency and encouragement. As a woman who is struggling with two little ones it is refreshing to know I am not alone. May God bless you and I am looking forward to reading the books you recommended.
  47. Hello, I am fairly new to your blog, but I have been greatly encouraged just from the little that I've read. I was wondering what alternative disciplines you used to spanking. We have an awesome 3yo girl, and she is just about the strongest willed little thing you've ever met. We have tried to take great care in breaking her will while nurturing her spirit and a love of virtue. Our primary method of discipline is spanking, but we also have done time outs, natural consequences, redirection, sticker charts and many other things. Our hearts desire is to see her loving and following Jesus, and we know that means building a strong, loving relationship that emphasizes more than just behavior, but our families (both Christian) give us very different advice for her training. My husbands parents believe that spanking is pretty much the only biblical way to train a child (we disagree, although we agree spanking can be a valid method and was used in biblical times) and my parents think we can reason with her about her behavior (also ineffective in training for obedience...and for a kid with a strong will). We definitely need to add more structure to our lives in general, not just for the kids. So basically, we are grasping for any advice and wisdom here besides just 'you're not spanking her hard enough.' So, how did you train your youngest two children?
    1. Melissa, strong will children are a challenge! With my youngest children I primarily used time outs for discipline when they were young. When training your children to listen, it's important to: 1. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say. 2. Don't Yell. Use a calm, quiet tone of voice - even when you're frustrated or upset. 3. Balance discipline with lots of affection and words of affirmation. 4. Say yes more than you say no. 5. Find every reason to praise your child when they are well behaved. I hope that helps!
  48. Hi Melissa, thanks so much for posting! I'm searching the internet looking for a better way to structure my day with my three and half year old because the way I was doing things before just left me completely overwhelmed and neither the house nor my children were getting the care they needed. This was helpful. I have a couple questions for you if you don't mind. During the play time that's not listed as "play time with mommy," what do you do while the kids play? An hour for snack time seems long to me; did you do anything else during that time? Also, what did you do with your kids who no longer nap during quiet time? Planning my three year old's day has been so much harder since he doesn't nap anymore because I don't have that two hour block of time in the middle of the day anymore for chores, etc.! My kids share a room, so I can't have him spend time in his room during quiet time because his brother is sleeping in there. Also, you advised never leaving your kids alone; what do you do when you need to get dressed? Thanks so much for sharing! This is really helpful to all of us trying to figure out the best way to organize our days for the benefit of our families.
  49. I love how organized you are. I love making list and being organized. But since I had my son who is now 17months old. I throw the lists in the wind. We do what he wants, when, whatever makes him happy. This is our first child and I am a stay at home mom. But sometimes (most of the time) he throws the worst tantrums, or bangs his head onsomething, or gets mad at ME because I'm mad at him because he's acting out. How do I start up a schedule and stick with it that benefits my son and I? I want to be the best mom I can for him because I know he's a gift from God. But sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy because he is so strong willed and smart. Any advice I would appreciate it so much. Thank you
    1. Lindsey, thanks for your suggestion. This is just a sample/ suggested to schedule. Moms can add in whatever they feel like adding in. I usually took my showers first thing in the morning before everyone was up. I've always been sporadic about regular exercise so it's not added in. My exercise usually consisted of taking walks with the stroller and going to the park. :)
  50. I just wanted to say your post really spoke to me. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece. I have a toddler and need to do better about spending quality time with him.
  51. These are helpful tips! I have a three year old and she definitely knows when I'm distracted! I've recently had her start telling me when she needs attention rather than acting up. It's working so far! Another parenting book that I love is Love and Logic Magic for 0-6. It has been so eye-opening! Visiting from Wonderful Wednesdays!
  52. you had to wake up your toddler? Lol JK Great routines./ since I babysit my grands so much, I really need to get into them. I do try to generally have a routine. I feed them as soon as they arrive. Try to have lunch at 11:30-12. Then nap time for 3 to. Newborn sleeps whenever! Naptime doesn't always go as planned, but we are both happier when she sleeps!
  53. I want to thank you for this resource, truly a Godsend! This is for my boyfriend's daughter - she is 22 with an 11 month old and a toddler nearing three - both boys. They have moved in with grandpa and are tearing his home apart. I've never been blessed with children but even I can recognize the need for structure and scheduling for this little family. I can speak until I'm blue in the face but sometimes it needs to come from outside, so I have printed this article and the suggested schedule for her and hopefully she finds it as useful as I see it can be if it is properly implemented. I have been praying over finding the right way to gently nudge her in this direction. God bless you for this wonderful piece!
  54. Something that works for me: I get up at 6 am and do my cooking and cleaning for the day so by the time my toddler is up usually around 8:30/9:00, my day is devoted to teaching and playing with him until his nap time which is when I normally need a nap too or I get other things done. :)
  55. It all sounds great except for getting one toy out at a time Over the years I have watched children use toys in a completely different way than the way they were designed and believe this leads to development of greater creativity.
  56. I love your schedule and advice! One question however, how would you tailor it for a toddler who is AWAKR at 5 am daily? I have a 2 year old who we've just gotten to sleep through the night (meaning he only wakes up 1 or 2 times and is UP at 5). He is very energetic and active. Naps in the afternoons for 1.5-3 hours. I often rest on the council from 5 to 6:30 am while he watches tv and plays then start the day to get my husband off to work... I am a month out from having our second baby. I'm trying to figure out out a good schedule for the three of us is.. I'm currently also having to sleep during my son's naptime in order to get through the day. What advice would you give overall and especially schedule wise? We are also a 1 car family, and my husband has 5o be at work at 8 am.
  57. This was something that I needed to read, I decided to teach my 4 year old & start teaching my 2 year old whenever she allows, at home until Kindergarten & now am worried that the day isn't structured enough. I feel that I'm incapable of being consistent during the day because I struggle to get out of bed. Half the time we don't eat breakfast until 9 & I rarely have enough motivation to bathe them every night. But, after thinking about it for a few days (almost weeks) and reading this Blog, I'm going to do my best to structure the day more. I've started praying fervently for change within myself to be more present with my girls, and to be a more gentle mom & I believe that God put this on my Pinterest feed for a reason! Thanks so much for a great, much needed post!
    1. Hi Grace! I love that you are desiring to be more present with your children. Don't give up when it's hard. I know God can do great things in your life when you give Him control and I know you love your girls very much. Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions!
  58. Thank you so much for this. I have a three year old and a baby and am in desperate need for some structure. It’s exactly what I’m looking for.
  59. Thanks for sharing this schedule! In some ways it is easier when siblings come along and can play with them, but then they can sometimes make a bigger mess too!

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