What is a good schedule for a 2-year-old?
Inside this post I'll share our ideal toddler schedule! Toddlers love consistency and routine. Setting up a schedule can help your days go smoother and feel more successful.
RELATED: Need simple activity plans for your toddler? I've got you covered with a whole year of calendars and activity plans!
We have been talking about toddler schedules over in our Toddler Approved Positive Parenting Zone. Today I'm going to share my "perfect" schedule for 2-year-olds with you. I'd love to hear yours too!
As an elementary school teacher I thrived on having a detailed daily schedule to structure our day. When I became a first time mom the schedule went out the window for awhile as I tried to figure out how to balance life and where to put things. My first child was a terrible sleeper, so often our mornings between 8-11am were where he got his best sleep... which meant that I never left the house til later in the day... if at all.
When my second and third kids came along for the most part our schedule had to stay consistent. Kids had school or scheduled events and a new baby got to just come along for the ride.
As my kids entered toddlerhood we typically started getting more sleep at night (although sometimes we didn't) which meant we woke up earlier and got a more organized start to our day. I finally began to start having a more consistent schedule again and I loved it!
I've discovered that I am a much happier person when we have some sort of routine to our day and so are my kids!
The schedule I am sharing today would be my ideal schedule to keep most days... though it is usually interrupted with emergency trips to the doctor or last minute errands or school pick ups or whatnot.
This is NOT what actually happens in our day every day. I WISH it could though.
When we have regular days without anything crazy going on then this is the schedule I aim for! Below is my schedule. I'll explain in more detail what each activity is underneath the schedule. We don't do every activity on every line. The "::" sign indicates the options I pick between during that time frame. My preschooler goes to preschool some mornings and joins us for activities some mornings too. I also have a first grader who is at school all day and joins for activities in the late afternoon.
My Perfect 2-Year-Old Schedule
7am- Wake up
Though, in my perfect world the kids would sleep in until 8! 🙂 I am grateful that they at least sleep til 7am (typically).
Eat breakfast :: get dressed :: make lunches :: pack bags
Sensory play :: creative art time :: free play time (I clean up breakfast/put laundry in)
My first grader goes to school late morning so we are lucky to have extra time in the morning together. After we drop him off we usually go on an adventure. Somedays I am in the car doing drop offs from 8am-9:30am and none of these activities happen!
Park trip :: nature walk/workout :: toddler playgroup/book club :: learning activities :: run errands
I host a toddler book club once a month in my home and a weekly park day for moms at local parks. I also host a preschool co-op some weeks. As you can see, our days vary a lot between 10am-12pm. We don't do all of these activities, just one or two. Sometimes we'll run a quick errand and also go to the park. On toddler book club or playgroup days we just do that between 10-12 and errands wait till the kids are in bed and my husband is home. A nature walk could be around our neighborhood or we might go hiking in the open space near our home. Often I will push my two younger kids (ages 4 & 2) in the double jogger and we'll run to the park, play, and come home so that I can get a workout in.
12:00pm- Lunch & stories
I love reading books to the kids while they eat lunch! This week we are loving books by Eric Carle.
1:00pm- Naptime or quiet time (I work during this time or catch up on emails)
My toddler typically naps for 2 hours every day while my preschooler plays mostly quietly in her room (with occasional interruptions). Sometimes we skip naptime and go on an adventure instead!
3:00pm- Playtime outside
Snack and more outdoor play :: free indoor play or creative art time (if raining)
5:00pm- Independent play time (I work on dinner/putting laundry away or other stuff around the house)
The kids sometimes play games or do some of our favorite simple toddler play activities.
5:30pm- Dinner (might be later depending on what I am making)
Playtime/games together :: stories :: bath :: creative art time :: clean rooms
My kids don't get a bath every day and sometimes we scrap this entire schedule and just watch a movie after dinner. We do try and do something creative and something together every night, in addition to cleaning.
7:00pm- Get ready for bed & stories
7:15pm- Bedtime (for my toddler, big kids go to bed at 8pm)
Now that I have shared my "perfect" schedule with you I'm going to explain what sort of activities I fit into the different sections.
Sensory play can mean a whole lot of things. At my house I prefer to keep it really simple. The sensory play activities usually involve touch. Here are our main sensory play activities plus I linked a few favorites below...
- playdough (we probably pull this out 3xs a day)
- sensory bins (we do these a few times a month, not tons)
- water or ice play
- sticky walls
I also have an entire pinterest board with cool sensory play ideas for kids that I pull from sometimes.
Creative Art Time
During this time we typically do open ended art activities. These are more like invitations to play and create. I especially love using stickers and dot markers during this time because they are easy materials to pull out. Here are some favorite simple creative art activities...
- simple collages (cut a favorite shape out of paper and start creating!)
- sticker art
- wreath making (easily adapted for different themes/seasons)
With toddlers I will do simple learning activities that explore colors, shapes, numbers, and alphabet letters in a playful way. We only do these a few times a week. We also work on visual discrimination and fine/gross motor movement. These activities aren't very structured and often involve matching, moving, science activities, or hunting. Here are some simple learning activities that my toddler loves...
- alphabet heart matching (adapt using any shape)
- alphabet cookie cutter science
- matching objects (this is fun to do with shoes too)
- matching photos
- color mixing
- sort and drop with LEGO
- color wheel hunt
- shape movement game
Free Play Time
Kids typically just play in their rooms or in our playroom or sometimes in the backyard. This is unstructured and I just encourage them to find something to do. Sometimes they will pull out playdough or art supplies, but usually they are doing pretend play, playing with trains and cars, or playing with DUPLO.
Toddler Book Club
Our toddler book club features a new children's book each month. I shared a bit about the organization for our Mommy and Me Toddler Book Club here. We have 7 children attend each month between the ages of 18 months and age 3 along with their moms. We do simple crafts, read a book, play games, do sensory activities, have a snack, and play.
Playgroup is just when we get together with a few kids and moms and it is less structured/organized. The moms chat and the kids play.
I use a variety of strategies to get all of my kids involved in cleaning and chores at our house. I try and have my kids clean their bedrooms and the playroom (actually our living room) every day. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.
Now that I've shared my schedule, I'd love to hear yours? Do you have a schedule you try to adhere to?
As mentioned above, this schedule does not happen every day! Somedays all we do is pick up the house and run errands, some days I have work projects to get done and the kids play independently and watch far too many movies. But somedays we manage to have time for creativity, chores, AND fun and we stick to our schedule and I feel awesome!