When Harvey was a few months old, I absolutely loved posts like this that gave an hourly schedule of when babies sleep, should eat, and awake time. I spent a lot of time working on a routine and making sure that he was on a schedule every day. This was mostly because I was going back to work full time when he was 4 months old, and I wanted to be able to give a schedule to his sitter and have a predictable routine to make that transition easier on him. Looking back now, I think I made that process so much harder on myself than really necessary (not that I ever do that…) and once he was with the sitter he fell into his own schedule anyway. Which she wrote down in a notebook each day major things that he did and the times (diaper changes, sleep, eating, etc.) and it was SO helpful to me.
I’ve always been such a planner and have relied on routine to keep my life (somewhat) together and less stressful. So it’s no surprise that I do that as a mom, too. I’ve read a lot of research that says children crave routine and it does a lot of good for them behaviorally, with sleep patterns and more.
While I love having a schedule to help plan when we will do things, and to help our days go by more smoothly, I will also say not every day goes according to plan. Some days are crazy, and this is okay. There are days when my baby wants to nurse 65 thousand times, and my son tires out early or falls asleep in the car. On those days the schedule goes out the window and we go with the flow. It’s also so important to be flexible as a parent and to listen to what your child needs first.
So, I’m going to share with you today not my own schedule for my 2 year old and almost 4 month old but also how to create one for yourself based on your child’s (or children’s) habits. Also, I will add that although I include times, I am not really strict with them, it is more about getting the main things done in our day and keeping an order to help my toddler know what to expect next.
The first thing you need is a notebook. Or piece of paper or even the note section on your phone, whatever works for you. Record the times along the left hand margin (I do 1/2 hour increments) starting with the time that you wake up (or your kids wake up if they’re up first) and split the page vertically into however many children you have to plan for (I also added a section for me, to help plan when I will work and clean).
Decide the nonnegotiable activities. For us it is mom time with coffee in the morning (and reading/pumping or exercise), eating meals, naps, general picking up/cleaning, and bedtime. Insert those things and the general time that they happen. If you’re working outside of the home, this might look a little different for you and you might need to add morning getting ready time, commuting to and from work/daycare/school.
Add optional/want activities. For me this is usually an organization project, reading a book, doing some sort of craft or painting, etc. As well as extra outings or activities for the kids like an extra trip to the park, a local event, etc.
Figuring out naps/feed times with an infant and toddler can be a bit of a challenge. Mine came from making some notes for a few days of when my infant was generally hungry and when my toddler was already eating and napping and seeing if I could make those times correlate. I know that my daughter needs to nurse about every 2-2.5 hours. I start with the time that she usually wakes in the morning and add nursing sessions every 2 hours or so. I also know that she is usually awake about an hour or so between feedings and takes short naps in between. Right now she is taking one longer nap in the morning and one in the afternoon and cat naps (5-25 minutes) in between. My son is 2, and he snacks mid-morning and afternoon and naps just once a day around 1 pm. I do my best to try to get them to nap at the same time in the afternoon, it doesn’t always work, but I try. I also try to make bedtime about the same time for them in the evenings, usually my son goes down first and my daughter is shortly after.
Below is our current schedule for most days. I hope that this will help you in creating a schedule for yourself and your little ones. Also know that this is just what works for my family, use it as inspiration, but don’t feel like there is only one way to do things!