Preparing a daily schedule for children at home is an excellent idea.
As a stay at home parent to small children one of the most challenging things in our home was coming up with a daily schedule that provided for learning, growing, resting and a bit of private time…for mommy. Even if you aren’t stay at home mom providing a schedule for your children at the times you’re all together at home is ideal.
Start by breaking your child’s day down into sections.
- Morning: What happens in your mornings? Are they relaxed or frazzled? Do you get up before your children so you can have some peaceful time? Do you prepare breakfast or is it a family affair? Are they old enough to dress themselves or do you need to lay out clothing the night before? Planning for your mornings can mean the whole day runs a lot smoother. Have trouble getting up in the morning? A few years ago I participated in the 30 Day Early to Rise Challenge with Crystal at MoneySavingMom. At the core of this challenge was the The Early To Rise Experience by Andy Traub. Try it.
- Afternoon: In the afternoon it can be time to take a break, get out of doors, eat lunch, or run errands. Whatever it is have a plan.
- Evening: Evening is a time to come back together as a family. Have dinner together, do family things, play games, and then settle into a bedtime routine. This is also the time, after the kiddos have gone to bed, for you to plan for the next day. Don’t use all your evening time to plan for the next day but get things organized so that the next morrow runs as smooth as you can make it.
Next work on and figure out exactly what will happen in each part of the day.
It’s okay if your daily schedule changes depending upon the day of the week. That’s a good thing. We don’t want to get in a rut and variety is the spice of life you now. But for now let’s just focus on the routines for one day. The goal is not to over schedule your child but to provide a bit of stability in the familiar and opportunities for learning and discovery.
Your morning and evening routines for your child are the most important. Giving your child a good start to each day and ending in the serene security of home.
And when you do plan the day leave space for the unexpected. Scheduling and planning each moment of the day is unadvisable.
Here is an example of my daughter’s daily routine at age 5. She had different routines on Wednesday and the weekends. I try not to cram to much into our day because we have a lot of the unexpected around our house. School and a relaxing evening environment are the musts. This printable is from our old planner version.
A Simple Schedule Template for Preschool Age Children:
For small children it’s great to follow the direction of daycares and preschools in providing a scheduled day to meet their needs. You know how it is. Maybe there is breakfast first and then as each child is finished with breakfast there is a time of free play with things like sand, playdough, water. Then once everyone has played for a bit (that’s the time you could be getting things done) then it’s time to come together for song and a depending upon age instruction. Take it from there.
And when it’s time for naptime you’re ready for that break and can get some of your own things done.
As a mom since you’re most likely working alone things like crafts and circle time may often be replaced by running errands. That’s where different schedules for different days comes in.
Here is a sample of what a daycare schedule might be like. Circle time with your child can be 15 minutes of singing preschool songs and doing hand motions.
Sample Preschool Day
- Hands on Activity
- Some kind of circle activity with music
- Play Outside
- More Circle Time songs etc.
- Story Time
- Snack time
- Play time (while you’re getting ready for dinner)
- After dinner it’s time to play quietly, read and prepare for the bedtime routine.
Finding Things to do:
If you haven’t already discovered this one thing you will learn that if you do not encourage and help your child learn the art of entertaining themselves (without destroying something) you will have a whining child constantly clinging on to you to provide them with something stimulating to do even when they are surrounded by toys.
While we struggle with wanting our children to be in learning mode all the time remember that they are learning while playing.
Quietly playing while mommy is involved with something else is not a bad thing. In fact you want to teach your children how to constructively entertain themselves.
In the beginning show them a little how to do something such as play dough, coloring, building blocks, and the like and then move to do something near them. Study your child to see what interests them. Do they like to create? Do they like to read or look at picture books. Do they like to role play with dolls and kitchen sets? Do they like to dig in the dirt outside and find bugs or plant things? They may like to do all of these.
One of my closest friends has discovered that her young daughter loves to play the piano. Mommy is an accomplished pianist and she loves to sit at the piano and try to recreate what mommy has played. When my daughter was young playdough kept her busy. I could sit her in her booster seat and she would play quietly while I did something else. Nearby of course.
Older toddlers and preschool age children can help you around the house and they often want to do that. Don’t pass up this opportunity to begin giving them chores.
Begin showing them small skills they can progress on. Cooking is a great. Mixing together things like small salads, rice mixes before you cook them, and helping with bread dough are some simple ones. Let them help you with the laundry or a bit of cleaning. As they grow and are accustomed to this you will find they are a big help in the home (pssst and that’s what we ultimately want right?).
If your child seems more difficult to get to entertain themselves turn it into a game. Have your child pick something. One activity from among their toys and crafts that they can do alone (you are nearby of course). Set a timer for 15 to 30 minutes and have them play with that item letting them know you are right there just not actively playing with them. You can even do this daily so you can get something done.
Create a little outdoor space just for your child.
I just love the little all in one play structures with swing, slide, and little fort area for great outdoor play!
They look like such fun!
But they can come at a price you’re not ready, willing, or able to pay.
What if you have a small backyard or worse yet just a teeny tiny porch? What if there is no park nearby? Or you’re living on one income or between incomes?
It’s not always possible to just up and move because your little tike needs more space to play.
So make the most of what you have.
If you can take the kids to the nearby park for actual running, climbing, and burning off steam.
But for everyday Vitamin D a little seating area is cute and can fit in most any sized outdoor space. And don’t think you have to buy brand new. We took our too small perfectly good sets to Goodwill and the first set we bought was at Ikea for only $25.
So far we’ve been through three such sets as our daughter grows and they’ve each been a wonderful place for her to imagine and create out of doors (she’s now at the big people’s table).
When summer comes getting outdoors as much as possible is great for you and kiddos. Do what you can out of doors. Garden, do some work online, eat your meals out doors. Get that fresh air into your child so they will sleep heavily at night!
Another thing you can do is to provide preschool time at home for your child.
My daughter still recalls with fondness her preschool days. I had the habit of including a little tea for our lunch each day. We drank juice or water but we used her little tea set and she poured. I cut our sandwiches with cookie cutters and made made spreadable cheese out of yogurt. I guess she’s hinting she wants to go back to those times. I’ll think about it.
When peanut was little we used Little Hands to Heaven and I still have that copy just in case but there are plenty of great Preschool at Home programs available.
Here are some great home preschool programs
Circle Time (for managing your homeschool day)
Preschoolers and Peace (for keeping little ones busy during homeschool days)
Summertime Tips for Preschool and Kindergarten
For school age children be sure and keep them on track with the reading and basic math skills learned during the school year. Simple worksheets and reading time will help keep your child’s new skills right at the forefront.
Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood is an excellent book for organizing your day with children at home. This resource for working or stay at home moms is based on the author’s own experience parenting 3 children very close in age (2 adopted). Find routines and ideas for morning through night. I really enjoyed this book.
Now that you know your child’s daily schedule you need to fill in the blanks with your own personal time. Maybe you wake up early for a quiet time or some work. Maybe you work after your kids are in bed as my mom used to do. Or you have some peaceful personal time during their naptime or quiet time. Make sure you get some moments for mom in there or you will burn out.