People have asked for some sample schedules so since I am knee deep in a good routine over here these days, I wanted to share. Every house is different with various obligations, habits, and preferences so this won’t work for everyone, but hopefully will be a good jumping off point for your family.
I have a 3 year old, 2 year old, 1 year old, and a newborn.
That’s crazy talk.
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Sample Routine for 4 Kids (4 and Under)
It’s simply impossible for me to get through our day without losing my mind if I don’t have a basic schedule. Have you ever had diapers explode on you? They explode on me. I’m talking crystals, people. If I don’t have things flowing properly, I forget to do basic things. I run around like a chicken with my head cut off and my kids are aimless. Aimless and wild. But not wild in a good way.
Use printable routine cards to teach your toddlers and preschoolers to follow their own routine without nagging.
7:30-7:45 // Wake-up
I’m a big fan of sleeping as late as possible and having my kids join me in this. We get up around this time (everyone but the newborn) and head to the kitchen counter for breakfast. I get the older kids breakfast ready and then go grab the newborn to feed him his first feed of the day. This clock may help your early risers.
8:00-8:15 // Feed newborn
I chose this time to begin the newborn’s day because I can’t feed him and make grits for 3 kids. Just ain’t happening. I turn on cartoons for the older kids while I feed the newborn. Now, I don’t think watching TV first thing in the morning is good (actually it irks me every day to do this), however, I find it very difficult to feed the baby with 3 other kids who aren’t focused on something else.
I’ve decided our screen time will be in the morning for this season so I can feed the newborn in peace and they eat and watch some cartoons or videos in peace. It isn’t ideal, but it works for now. Otherwise they are jumping on me and the chair and trying to kiss, cuddle, and hug the baby and it’s too distracting.
9:30 // Free play
After I’ve put the baby down for a nap, turned the TV off, and we’ve cleaned up the kitchen it’s time for random free play. I must admit this is a challenging time of day for me because the kids have energy, but can’t run free outside yet. Our yard is 10 acres and has a pond, pool, and road with fast cars so I can’t put them outside to play free and I can’t run free with them while the baby sleeps. (Update: we created a large fenced in area so the kids will usually play outside together).
10:00 // Independent playtime
I put each of my kids in their own rooms (my 18 month old in his crib) to play on their own. Independent play has tons of benefits, and one of the best in my eyes is the fact that they don’t have to share those toys. All day they either have to share or fight for toys, but I rotate the toys that they play with in their rooms so it’s new and fresh often. Here are some bestselling age appropriate toys.
10:30 // Feed newborn
While the older kids are still in independent play I feed the baby again. I do this on purpose because I like to nurse when there aren’t lots of other kids running around getting into things or trying to sit on me. I think it’s calmer and helps prevent over-stimulation which often happens when there are 3 kids trying to kiss him and hug him at the same time.
11:00 // Structured playtime
By time I am beginning to put the baby down for a nap and the kids are out of independent play. This is when we’re doing our Fruit of the Spirit preschool curriculum, crafts, or an activity, or we all go outside to play ball or run around. I find the kids need some structure after they’ve been left to their own devices for most of the morning.
I used to stress about activities or organized playtime, but I take the terms loosely and have found lots of things on Pinterest that are basically very minimal prep and high returns on kid excitement and learning! These kits make craft time a breeze.
12:00 // Lunch
We all come back to the counter and eat. I think eating before nap means they sleep sounder and longer, but that’s just my theory.
1:00 // Nap + Feed newborn
I put the older 3 kids down for a nap in their own rooms. I have old radios, white noise apps on my cell and tablet and turn those on so no one wakes anyone else up. It works perfectly! One can wake early, wake crying while teething, etc. and the others aren’t disturbed.
When the older kids are down I feed the baby and try to get some rest. I’ll watch a TV show on Netflix, work a little, and take a quick disco nap before the kids wake up.
3:30 // Feed newborn + get up from nap
I feed the baby again now to beat the dinner time preparation rush. I know some are uber talented, but I’m not yet able to hold a baby and nurse while cooking. The thought makes me want to order pizza. Anyhoo, the kids can get up and do something together or go get a snack while I’m feeding the baby and putting him down. If I have a short educational video I will often play it at this time, otherwise the kids occupy themselves while I get dinner ready.
5:00 // Dinner
We usually eat around 5. We started eating this early because my husband worked nights a few nights a week and this allowed us to all eat dinner together. We are slowly moving it back a bit, but the early time allows us to eat with leisure then begin the nighttime routine without a rush, and still get the kids to bed at an early hour. After dinner we often read this book at the table together.
6:00 // Evening routine + Feed newborn
The children get baths most evenings unless the day has been hectic and there’s not time. Unless they are filthy I won’t move back bedtime just to give them a bath. Mainly because bath time is fun for them and will amp them up so moving back bedtime + amped up kids means they take longer to go to sleep and they fight the bedtime routine more.
In this time we do baths, get on jammies, read books, and clean our rooms. In this time I also feed the baby and give him a quick catnap before bed.
These printable routine cards are great visual reminders that will help you and your family keep the routine.
7:00 – 7:30 // Bedtime
My 18 month old needs to be in bed by 7 on the dot. Any later and he cries and fusses quite a bit. Even if we put him in at 7 he’ll talk to himself and sing for a while, but then go happily to sleep. 7:15 and he’ll try to bring the house down. My older two are more flexible and after reading some books, having “schnuggles” in bed, telling stories, and praying they are all in bed by 7:30 on most nights.
8:00 – 8:15 // Feed newborn
Once all the kids are in bed, I get my little baby and I hug and kiss him and tell him how perfect he is… and then I get him ready for bed. Here are some wind down routines for babies.
Chores – since my oldest is not yet 4 (turns 4 in March) we don’t have a chore chart or system. All throughout the day I have them put their plates/bowls by the sink, help me sweep by using the dustpan, clean up their toys, put dirty clothes in the laundry, etc. I don’t have a time set aside each day for chores yet. I see this coming soon. (Update: I have this but it’s a tad cumbersome to use). You might prefer to just have some printable chore cards and choose them at random.
My work – I work either while they’re having screen time, during independent play, their nap time, and after they are in bed. Work is a way I can help provide for my family, but I don’t want it take over life so that I don’t have time for them. It’s a juggling act, but it works for now.
Outside time – We are planning and in near execution stages of a large fenced in play area so the kids can go run wild and free and climb without my constant presence, and I think I’ll put that in the morning during their current screen time or after their independent play.
Errands – I will not run errands with all 4 kids. Not worth it ever. I will grocery shop or do other things when someone else is around to watch one or all of the kids. (Update: well sometimes I have to and, when I do these are my tips).
Want Routine Printables and Cards to hang up?
If you have a mix of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers and wonder what is a good routine that will serve everyone and – more importantly – want helping keeping track of the dadgum routine, then I’ve created something for you. I’ve bundled my Rhythms, Routines & Schedules ebook (that has 25+ sample routines for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, AND combination schedules) and my routine cards into one package.
The routine book itself has 25+ printables (3 for every age group) and some blank pages where you can write your own schedule and hang it up. For your toddlers and preschoolers you can use the routine cards that cover morning, play time, mealtime, chore time, and bedtime routines. This helps your older ones follow their own routines while you are tending to the younger ones.
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- find a routine and rhythm for your child
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- know what is and isn’t working so you can make one tweak that’ll change your day
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