I recently read Susie’s of Busy Toddler daily routine, and I realized her daily schedule has a lot of similarities to mine. I want to share mine as well.
I have been following this schedule with my toddler for about a year now. I’m a teacher and have the summers off, so this is my Summer/Weekends/Holiday Breaks Schedule. It is flexible, not rigid.
Keep in mind that I only have one child right now, and a schedule should be what works for you, not someone else. However, there are 10 productivity hacks I do every day that you can use in your daily routine to try out if you feel as if you can never get ahead in the day and aren't chasing time.
My 10 Productivity Habits-Let’s Get Rolling
I have been a teacher for 10 years now. Before that, I worked with preschoolers at a Summer Day Camp and babysat regularly.
Entertaining kids, planning schedules, and creative play are passions of mine that I have studied in my undergraduate and graduate programs and researched extensively on my own before you start comparing yourself to me.
Lauren Barrett Writes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
1. Morning Routine
My morning routine is the single most important thing to my day. If it doesn’t go right, my day is thrown off. I can just tell.
At this point in time, my son is almost 2 and a half, and he is sleeping till roughly 7:30 AM.
I get up anywhere between 6:00-7:00. I let my body naturally wake me up, but I prefer to be up by 6:30, so I have at least an hour to myself. That is important -starting my day with myself.
Even though my son wakes up at 7:30, I don’t get him until 8:00 when his Hatch goes off. He is content playing in his crib and talking to himself. I think it is important for his self-development that he learns to be and play on his own. That is why I do not get him right away (And, you got me, I like the little bit of extra time to myself).
You can read more in-depth about my morning routine here. But, I like to spend part of the time in silence and gratitude, and then I transition to straightening anything up and prepping for the day. Finally, I always set a morning goal. For me, it’s working on my Pinterest Page or my blog.
With this solid morning routine, I feel refreshed and ready to go grab Henry from his room. I’m not distracted by all that I have to do, and I am able to administer my first time-in of the day.
2. 5-Minute To-Do List
Now that my morning routine is complete, and I have gotten Henry up, dressed and downstairs, I like to have a solid game plan of what the day is going to look like and within that day I have my 5-Minute To-List fresh in my mind or written down in my planner or notes.
A 5-Minute To-Do List is a list of tasks that can get done in, you guessed it, 5 minutes. I learned about this tip from the authors of Parenting While Working From Home. You’ll be amazed how many of these 5-minute windows you have throughout the day. It’s not enough time to start something major, but it’s enough time not to “waste.”
I am a firm believer in sitting and enjoying the silence without always looking for a distraction, so sometimes on my 5-Minute To-Do List is exactly that. Sit and enjoy the peace, take a couple deep breaths, or say a prayer.
But if you are not wanting to do that for every 5-minute opportunity you have, here are some ways you can take advantage of the time:
Whatever you decide to do, have your list ready for when another 5-minutes comes your way and see how it makes you feel.
3. Independent Play
While I am making breakfast and then later cleaning up the kitchen from it, I encourage independent play without the TV.
Susie from Busy Toddler, on the other hand, was the opposite. She allowed her children to watch one show while she made breakfast and then encouraged independent play throughout the rest of the day.
I normally do screen time in little increments throughout the day. I try for the rest of the time, to set the expectation that Henry is going to play on his own with Mommy occasionally joining in to facilitate the play or do a needed time-in. But it really depends on how the day is going.
Independent play was taught to Henry from an early age. The research on the benefits of it is too important to do without it.
How do you get kids to play alone?
Once your children have learned to play independently, you can sit back with your coffee and marvel at their creativity and wonder or read a book or do some work. Guess what? The choice is yours.
4. Being Unbusy
Like Susie, I like being “unbusy.” That means while the kids are still toddler and preschool ages, they are not enrolled in a thousand activities that have you pulled in a thousand directions.
Kids learn best through play at this age, and by gosh, I am going to let the kids play without breaking the bank on art classes, soccer camp, piano lessons. Instead our days are usually wide open, and we are free to do what we like.
Your kids can get plenty of social interaction by playing with the neighborhood kids, going to local parks and playground, visiting the library and attending storytime there, setting up playdates with your friends’ kids, and hitting up the community pool.
5. Leave the House Every Day
Another thing that Susie and I have in common is that we leave the house every day. For us, we usually go somewhere in the morning and somewhere in the afternoon.
Our morning excursion usually is a run in the neighborhood or a local trail. We try to leave the house at 9:30-10:00.
I run and push Henry in the stroller, and we try to go to a playground after my run.
My morning run gives me the energy boost I need for the rest of the day, and it’s my time to listen to podcasts. I listen to them out loud so Henry can hear.
I kill three birds with one stone this way. I get my exercise in. I get my learning in. Henry gets a free ride through nature and his exercise at the playground in. Henry is happy. I am happy. Win-win.
Leaving the house doesn’t need to be extravagant. It can be a trip to Target or a visit to family. It can be a walk to the park or run to Chick-Fil-A. Doesn’t matter. Try to leave. Makes everyone happier.
6. Nap Time Plan
We arrive back at the house between 11:30-12:00 and have lunch. Soon after lunch is NAP TIME. I love my son, but naps are super important to me. They make everyone happier in our household. Currently, Henry naps from 12:30-3:00.
Before the nap even begins I have a well-thought out strategy on how I want to use my time for nap. There are few things I want to accomplish during a nap:
I try to only do things that I know I can’t do while Henry is awake. Working on my computer is a big one. Watching my TV shows is another. Obviously napping and diving deep into a good book.
I typically don’t waste Nap Time doing any chores or cleaning because I can do those things while Henry is up.
I also can shower and get ready while Henry is awake (I plop him in the big tub next to our shower stall, and he has fun splashing around. I can clearly see him). Although I will shower and get ready while Henry naps if a.) I want to leisurely take my time or b.) Need to be quick without a lot of interruptions.
However you decide to use nap time/quiet time, have a plan so you can execute it efficiently as soon as your little one’s head hits the pillow.
7. Nap Time Is Sacred
As I mentioned, nap time is important. I wear many hats: mom, wife, teacher, writer, reader, coach, antiracist, Christian, friend, etc. In order to nourish those areas, I need the nap time.
Because of that, I am pretty strict with scheduling and going places during naps. Very rarely do I allow naptime to be skipped. Also, very rarely do I go anywhere during nap times. Nap allows me to work on my side hustle and passion projects. They are sacred.
I have gotten pretty comfortable with saying “no” to things scheduled during those hours.
I also don’t spend the whole nap cleaning and doing chores. I prefer to subscribe to the method of cleaning a little at a time. This is just an example: Monday I’ll spend 10 minutes dusting. Tuesday toilets. Wednesday sweep and vacuum. Etc.
8. Social Media Days
I do love social media. I learn so much through Instagram and even FB now that I am in writer and parenting groups. However, I am well aware it can be an enormous time waster. That is why I have social media days.
I randomly picked three days of the week-Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays-when I am allowed to scroll guilt-free through social media at any time I want for however long I want. The other days I don’t get on (most of the time).
I end up not even spending that long on social media even on the days I can go on. It’s just become a habit. I check a few accounts that are informative, laugh at a few stories, and look at cute pictures of kids and dream of places to travel on traveling blogs. Then, I get off and resume my day.
Try social media days to maximize productivity. If you want to get real about it, I have no social media in my 30-Day Challenge.
9. Very Little TV Throughout the Day
Here, I would like to make a quick note on my TV-watching habits. I’ll be honest, I don’t really watch TV during the day. It’s not on in the background because I get too distracted. I reserve TV mostly for the night when spending time with my husband or during nap time when I need a break from the day.
10. Put Kids to Bed Early and Don’t Feel Guilty
So Henry usually wakes up at 3:00. After a snack, we try to leave the house again in the afternoon so the day doesn’t drag on until dinner. If we don’t, Henry plays until dinner at 6:00. James cooks. I clean up. Henry has some TV until the dinger goes off at 7:15-7:30. We do our bedtime routine and Henry is in his crib at 8:00.
Henry doesn’t always fall asleep right away. Sometimes he isn’t even altogether sleepy judging by the way he is singing to himself and doing acrobats in his crib. But he is happy and learning an important skill of not needing Mommy and Daddy to fall asleep.
Do I ever go back in to hold him just a bit longer? Absolutely. But the nights I don’t, I don’t feel guilty because the time spent after he goes to bed for myself and my marriage is really important as well. I wrap up the day by heading to bed at 10:00.
And that’s my day!