A mountain of laundry waiting to be tackled!
Clutter everywhere you go and turn!
Dozens of diaper changes every day!
Brain numbing lack of sleep!
And to top it all- Fatigue hijacking every cell of your body!
Say “Hello” to mommy-hood! By the time I decided to become mommy, I was a boardroom-hardened corporate warrior. And like most other women of my ilk, I was so sure that this “Stay at home mommy” business would be a piece of cake.
After all, I was a champ at multi-tasking and meeting deadlines, so how hard could it be to handle one little human?
About a year down the line, the very first lesson I learned was – Never ask how hard or how bad it can be, because it can always GET HARDER AND BAD-DER!
But, that is only till you don’t bring order to the chaos with a schedule. Believe me when I say this, it is easy to lose your time, yourself and in worst cases even your sense of responsibility between the endless rote of feeding, poop cleaning, chores and errands.
And that is where a schedule will come to your rescue! A daily schedule will help you to:
- Hold on to your sanity.
- Give more time to your munchkin.
- Get time for yourself and for your partner.
- Keep the house in order.
- Retain your focus.
- Create a routine for your child/children.
- Get enough sleep.
- Not become overwhelmed.
- Enjoy quality time with your family.
- Feel less frantic at the end of the day.
All that sounds great, but it also brings us to the all-important question, how exactly do you set a schedule that works for you, your toddler and your family.
Top 5 things to remember if you want your stay at home mom schedule to actually work!
Start with a clear idea of the existing routine:
You can’t make radical shifts in your existing routine in the name of scheduling. That will never work!
Instead, a more workable and realistic approach is to build your schedule around your existing routine. So, start by taking a close look at what is absolutely non-negotiable at this point.
That would be your toddlers wakeup time, nap time, eating time and wind down for the day time. Also, factor your body’s rhythm into your existing routine.
People who are early risers run on maximum energy in the morning while night owls feel a surge as the day draws to an end. It is important for your schedule to use these high energy slots to tackle the most demanding and high priority tasks.
Don’t spread yourself too thin:
Setting a schedule is all about maximum time efficiency. Of course, you will get more done if you are working on and with a schedule. But, the easiest way to make a schedule fail is to pack in too much.
Time management is important but micromanaging every minute will cause anxiety and burn out. So, be realistic about how much you can accomplish in one day.
Also, leave a buffer for the unanticipated because when you have a toddler around a different form of Murphy’s Law applies- If something unexpected can come up, it will!
Accept that there will be slip ups:
Swinging – it is certainly not a good strategy but you have to accommodate slip ups, delays and even total failures when there is another person involved in the equation.
Toddlers are little persons, which means they won’t act reasonably like the adults in your life. So, you have to keep room to accommodate the tantrums, the bawling and the drama!
Flexibility is the name of this game:
Since you are taking the time out to read this article, and I am assuming that after this you will sit down to make your stay at home schedule, of course you are expected to follow it as judiciously as possible.
But nothing is etched in stone here. Give yourself reasonable flexibility and you will lower the risk of a meltdown. The best way to do this is to keep a few options ready if your first choice is not workable or does not give you the desired results.
For instance, sometimes my little one would wake up all irritated and all my efforts to appease him would be in vain. His incessant wailing would mean that I would not be able to get on with my chores.
So, when the going would be threatened, I would get out the heavy stuff – The baby swing/rocker.
Put it down on paper and put it where it can be seen:
If you are serious about scheduling, don’t just think up your schedule in your mind; do things the old fashioned way and write it down.
In fact, I would highly recommend the use of scheduling apps and products. Once you have it in black and white (or any other color) put it up in a place where you can see it. I have 4 copies of my schedule, one each for the bedroom, the living area, the nursery and the kitchen.
Make room in your stay at home mom schedule for these!
The biggest mistake that rookie moms make, and I am talking out of experience here, is devoting every minute of their day to their little bundle of joy.
Sure, your little one will command a lot of your time and attention. But, this certainly does not mean that you should forget all about yourself and others around you.
Burnout, boredom, depression and hopelessness will quickly creep in if you forget to tend to your own needs. And no matter how much you love the little life you brought into this world, there will come a time when you will start to hate the job.
And you certainly don’t want to plunge to that point. So, this is not up for negotiation; whatever you do, include these in your schedule. Because once parent burnout sets in, take my word on this, it will be years before you will recover from it, if at all.
I usually like to have this the first thing in the morning and I try hard to accommodate another 15 minutes at the end of the day.
But some women, like to have their quiet time towards the middle of the day once they are done tackling the major errands and chores. Go with whatever works for you here and fill this slot with any soul nourishing activity that is right for you.
Personally, I prefer meditation and music in the morning and journaling in the evening. A friend of mine dedicates her morning, “quiet” time to bible reading while another lady prefers to spend 20 minutes with the plants in her backyard.
Simply put, neither the exact hour of the day nor the activity matter; what matters is that you get time to gather your thoughts and to collect yourself for the day ahead.
Do you know what is a sure fire way to lose your marbles? Spend a few months cooped up inside your home and you will get there. I know it is hard to leave your precious package in the hands of some stranger.
But, the fact is that you need outdoor time to maintain your sanity. And no, grocery shopping does not qualify as outdoor time but a jog or walk around the block or spending even 30 minutes in a park will be good enough.
Dress up time:
It is not unusual for new moms to feel so overwhelmed and ambushed by everything on their plate that they get into a merciless self-neglect mode.
That’s when you start living in your PJs. At first, the comfy clothing choice may not seem detrimental. But over time, the absolute disinterest in your appearance will start to take a mental toll.
There may not be anybody in the house to critic your disheveled appearance, but rest assured the unkempt look won’t do your noggin any favors.
No, I am not asking you to dress up to the nines but take the time out for a shower and to comb your hair and don something other than your pajamas. There are scores of sartorial choices that are practical and comfortable but not messy and ugly.
So, choose something that you can live and work in. The thing to understand here is that you don’t have do everything that you once did for yourself but something definitely beats nothing. Even the tiniest amount of effort that you put into self-care can make a huge difference.
Waiting hand and foot on your little one is no substitute for a workout, no matter how much running around the house it involves. Ditto for errands and chores.
Despite the fact that a mere half an hour of exercise (any kind) puts enough feel good chemicals in your brain to get you through the day, fitness is the first thing that gets put on the back burner when you have a baby to take care of.
I agree it is hard to finds both the time and the energy to invest in a workout, so include this in your peak energy slot because this is a priority.
If nothing else works, couple your outside time with your fitness time by heading to the gym or even for a jog outdoors or even a walk in the park with your baby.
If your quiet time is for reflection, your “Me” time is for enjoyment. You may not have the luxury for this indulgence everyday but make it a point to include a “me time” session at least every alternate day and then slowly turn it into a daily affair.
What should you do in your “Me” time? Well, that is entirely up to you. From reading a book to a skin pampering session and from an online virtual tour of the museum to a new hobby, just about anything that makes you feel happy will be good enough.
Did you know that a whopping 40% of all couples part ways by the time their first born reaches his/her 5th birthday? Also, nearly 2/3rd of all couples report a significant deterioration in the quality of their relationship within 3 years of having a child.
But it is not so much the baby as the new parents who are to be blamed for the disintegration of the relationship. As psychology.com puts it, kids of all ages are crisis magnets and it is easy to invest so much time in tackling the troubles and the issues that your child/children have that you forget all about your needs and even those of your partner.
Forget about date night and the all-important sex life even the simple act of sitting down and talking turns into a rare occurrence. When you consider this, of course those numbers make sense. But, it does not have to be this way!
Granted that as parents you may not have the same amount of time to give to yourself and to each other as you once did. However, even a little can go a long way.
Set a rule that you will give each other at least 30 minutes of time and in this slot, strictly avoid baby-related talk. Cuddle, watch a show together or just talk; do whatever puts you back in tune with your partner.
Also, once your kid is past the one year mark, have at least 1 date night a week. I could afford to start this routine sooner because my parents were not living too far away, so I could call them over for an evening. If you don’t have this luxury, baby-sitting swaps with other new parents could be an option.
Last but not the least is your sleep time. Yes, you need your 7-8 hours of shuteye. I often hear about sleep deprived moms (I was one too at a point).
In fact, it almost seems as if lack of sleep is a part and parcel of motherhood. Believe me when I say this, you will be a much better mom and person when you are well fed and well rested.
So, you are not doing yourself any favors by scrimping on sleep and gobbling up whatever you can get your hands on.
As soon as possible, set a night time schedule and a day time nap schedule for your kid. This is quintessential for your own peace of mind. And there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about keeping your date with your bed. Moms are humans too you know; we have our needs.
A basic daily toddler schedule – This will be your starting point
1-2 year old toddler schedule
- 7:00 am – Wake up and clean up
- 7:30 am to 9:00 am – Eat and play (with at least half the play time devoted to playing alone for 1.5-2 year olds)
- 9:00 am to 11:00 pm – Take a nap
- 11: 00 pm to 12:30 pm- Wake up, clean up, have a small snack and have some alone play time
- 12:30 pm – Lunch with family
- 1:00 pm – Take a nap (after lunch your munchkin will be drowsy or at least tired hence this is a good time for him/her to catch up on a few zzz’s and for you too)
- 3:00 to 3:30 pm – Wake up and clean up.
- 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm – Have a snack, play alone or with siblings or with mommy
- 4:30 pm to 5 pm- Time outdoors with mommy
- 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm- Dinner with family
- 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm – Spend time with family
- 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm – Bath, a small snack, night routine
- 7:30 pm- Off to dreamland
2-3 year old toddler schedule
This is not very different from the routine for younger toddlers, save for the fact that by the 24th month your tot should be accustomed to spending more time playing alone and by the 36th month, you should include a few preschool and learning activities in the schedule.
My little one was an early talker, so by the time he was 1.5 years old, I had started investing 30- 60 minutes every day in learning alphabets, numbers and simple nursery rhymes.
Even if your munchkin needs a bit longer to join the race, by the 30th month, you should get the child used to a play and learn routine. So, this is what a toddler schedule generally looks like from the age of 2 to 3 years.
- 6:30 am – Wake up (Your toddler can either start the day half an hour early or end it half an hour late. The idea is to get to an 11-hour sleep routine that can be worked down to 10 and eventually to 8/9 hours as the child grows.), quick wash up.
- 7:00 am to 8 am- Reading or playing with educational/skill building toys.
- 8:00 am- Breakfast with family.
- 8:30 am to 9 am- Bath and dress up.
- 9 am to 11 am- Play time (alone) and some learning/preschool activity.
- 11 am- Snack time.
- 11: 30 am to 12: 30 pm- Help mommy with chores/errands.
- 12: 30 pm- Lunch.
- 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm- Nap time.
- 3: 00 pm to 6:00 pm – Small snack followed by playtime (at least an hour outside)
- 6:00 pm – Dinner time
- 6:30 to 7:30 pm – Time with family
- 7:30 pm- Bedtime
If you notice, I have included two snacks and 3 main meals in the schedule. Also, you’ll find one outdoor slot for young and mid-aged toddlers and two for older toddlers and of course helping mommy sessions for older tots.
As far as naps go, I have scaled that down to just one afternoon nap by the 2.5 year mark. But, like I said, don’t make radical changes to your existing routine. Instead, gradually ease into the schedule. The aim is to e prepare for when the kid starts schooling (home school or otherwise)
Make your very own stay at home mom schedule in 5 simple steps
Step 1: Begin by jotting down the essentials.
These are the must do entries that are nearly non-negotiable in terms of time. So that would be your toddler’s:
- Wake up time
- Meal time
- Snack time
- Nap time
- Sleep time
If you have older kids, this should also include school drop off and pick up times.
Step 2: Add the week’s appointments
This would literally be doctor’s appointments, virtual meeting with clients if you are a work at home mom, taking older kids to practice, etc. These again are time sensitive, so it is best to add them right after toddler-essentials.
Step 3: Add your essentials to this list
Sync your essentials with those of your baby and leave a small margin to accommodate the unforeseen, so to speak. So, that would be:
- Your wake up time (has to be before or with your baby).
- Meal prep times and eating time (prep time of course before the tot and the family are due for their meals and your eating time with them or right after; no you cannot wait till the baby is napping and after you have rested a bit)
- Nap time (I prefer 25 minute naps that leave you energized and not groggy. This would get me up and about before the baby would wake up).
- Me time (I would like to have this in afternoon, while the baby would still be napping).
- Partner time (This would always be after the baby would be put to bed for the night).
- Sleep time (Enough to get me my 8 hours of mommy sleep)
Step 4: Add the daily chores
If you are a morning person, get these tackled in the first half of the day. Otherwise, get them done early in the second half. This would be:
- Daily cleaning (I have a separate article dedicated to this and I highly recommend that you take a look at it).
- Daily or every other day laundry
- Homework help
Step 5: Add weekly errands and chores
Finally, fill in the weekly requirements that are not particularly time or even day sensitive. This would be:
- Grocery shopping
- Weekly laundry load
- Pet baths
- Bill payments and financials (usually once a month or once in two weeks)
- Weekly cleaning
And all of that considered, this is what my stay at home mom schedule looked like at different toddler-age mile stones. Think of this as a sample or even an outline of sorts that you should and can modify to suit your specific requirements.
I am going to start at the youngest age (1 year old toddler) because that is when your tot will take up the maximum amount of your time. As they say, the days will be long but the years will be short and before you know it, your little bundle of joy will blossom into his/her own person, becoming more independent with each passing month and day.
A sample stay at home mom schedule for 1 year old!
6.30 am: I’d get up an hour before my kiddo which would give me enough room to get in 30 minutes of yoga, 15 minutes of mediation followed by 15 minutes of peppy music.
7:30 am: Tot would be up and about and I would be right there diaper in hand and then ready for a morning cuddle and feed. The hour’s head start would give me a margin to accommodate early wake up calls.
8:00 am: I would get the breakfast going and it helped a lot that we preferred to keep things simple with the first meal of the day. So, we’d normally have cereals or oats, a bowl of fruits always and sometimes scrambled eggs with toast. The toddler would either be in his indoor swing (no not the baby swing /rocker) or playing with the activity panel of his push walker (we had one in which the panel could be detached.
Unless you have a sink full of dishes to tackle, I recommend that you leave that off for a bit later. Personally, I like to have no more than one full load of dishwasher/day. So, even now when my kids are older, I just wait till after dinner prep is done. Instead of doing the dishes, I’d tackle the heavier stuff- Baby bath and laundry for the day.
9 am: Hubby would be half way to his office by this time and the tot would be ready for his nap. I had received a crib rocker as my baby shower gift and that sure did help to tone down the tantrums.
9:15 to 10:30 am: I would start this slot by loading the clothes drier and then it would be time to get the daily cleaning done. Notice my preference to get the heavy lifting done in the first part of the day.
10:30 to 11:15 am: Shower and dress up.
11:15 am: Baby would be up and about which meant that the next hour would be invested in him. So, we would start with cuddles, accommodate a healthy snack and then put in some mommy and baby play time.
1 pm: Baby and I would both be ready for lunch.
1:30 pm: Nap time for mommy and baby
2:15 pm: I’d be refreshed after my 25 minute nap and because the tot would still be cruising through dreamland, I would get my me-time from this slot.
3:30 pm: Baby would be up and after a quick change and snack, we’d be ready for time outdoors.
4:15 to 5:00 pm: This would be a walk in the park at first but soon we graduated to balance bikes and when daddy would be home, we’d have some fun outdoor sport sessions in the backyard.
5:15 to 5:30 pm: Baby and I would be back home right in time for dinner prep. Because I am such a fan of meal planning, I would only keep the light stuff for day to day cooking like pasta or rice boiling or tossing the salad. Literally, everything else would be done either the night before or over the weekend.
6:00 pm: Dinner time with daddy and mommy.
6:30 pm: Baby bath time, story time with daddy.
7: 00 pm: Baby bedtime.
7:30 to 8:30 pm: Dishes and counter cleaning. While hubby would wipe and stack the dishes, I would fold the laundry.
8:30 to 10:00 pm: Partner time.
10:00 pm: Wind down
10:30/11:00 pm: Off to bed.
2 year old schedule stay home mom
Things did not change a lot when my toddler turned two in terms of my schedule; just that I’d get him up a bit early. So, this is what your schedule should look like:
- 00 am: Morning routine for mommy.
- 7:00am: Toddler wakeup, diaper change and breakfast.
- 7:30 to 9:00 am: Independent play time.
- 9:00 am: Baby nap.
- 9:15 am: Household chores.
- 10: 30 am: Personal time for mommy.
- 11:00 am: Baby wake up and snack.
- 11:15 am to 1 pm: Play group or learning/skill building play/outdoor play.
- 1:00 pm: Lunch.
- 1:30 pm: Nap time for mommy and baby.
- 2:15 pm: Mommy me-time.
- 3:30 pm: Baby wakeup and snack.
- 4:15 to 5:00 pm: Outdoor time.
- 5:15 to 5:30 pm: Dinner prep.
- 6:00 pm: Dinner time.
- 6:30 pm: Playtime with daddy and some screen time.
- 7: 00 pm: Baby bedtime routine.
- 7:30 pm: Baby in bed.
- 7:30 to 8:30 pm: Last round of cleaning for the day.
- 8:30 to 10:30 pm: Partner time daily and date night once a week
- 10:30/11:00 pm: Off to bed
Stay at home mom schedule for 3 year old
While all mommy and household chore slots remained the same, this is how the schedule changed to accommodate my toddler’s needs:
- 7:00 am: Wake up, breakfast, get ready.
- 8:30 am: Activity lesson.
- 9:15 am: Outdoor playtime (strictly in the back yard).
- 11:00 am: Snack and indoor play.
- 1:00 pm: Lunch.
- 1:30 pm: Nap time.
- 3:30 pm: Wake up, snack.
- 6:00 pm: Dinner.
- 7:30 pm: Bath.
- 8:00 pm: Night routine.
- 8:30 pm: Bedtime.
Stay at home mom schedule for 4 year old
- 7:00 am: Wake up and shower.
- 8:00 am: Breakfast.
- 8:30 am: Get Dressed.
- 9:00 to 10:15 am: Independent play outdoors.
- 11:00 to 12:45 pm: Preschool/ learning activities, etc.
- 1:00 pm: Lunch.
- 1:30 pm: Reading with mommy.
- 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm: Quiet play or rest time/ not necessarily nap time but if your little one does doze off, allow him the indulgence.
- 3:30 pm: Outdoor time with mommy or playtime with friends (generally supervised playtime with friends).
- 6:00 pm: Dinner.
- 7:30 pm: Bath.
- 8:00 pm: Night routine.
- 8:30 pm: Bedtime.
A slip up does not equate to failure!
And last but not the least, let’s talk about the inevitable slip ups! Of course, there will be several occasions where despite meticulous planning and judicious adherence to your stay at home mom schedule, you won’t get as much done as you planned or anything at all done.
Sometimes it’s just not your day! It happens to the best of us and to all of us, so there is really no need to beat yourself up over it. Moreover, it will take you a while to get used to a schedule if you have not followed one so far. I will reiterate that a professional schedule is poles apart from a stay at home mom schedule.
Sure, on the surface, both look like a time table, but where professionally all tasks are done with a singular focus, as a mom, you will don several hats and will have so many, many things to take care of. So, you have to be forgiving of yourself.
Of course, forgiving does not mean you have to continue disregarding your schedule. You know what they say- bad habits are easy to form but very hard to let go. So, be diligent with your schedule and in case of a slip up, instead of allowing that one lapse to pull you down, analyze what went wrong.
You may have to tweak your schedule to accommodate new tasks and greater responsibilities as your brood grows or as you try to pack more into your day. So, dissecting a problematic day, will help you to understand what went wrong and why. And, this will help you to better optimize your schedule to suit your needs and those of your family.