Getting my children on matched-routine has been important to me since before my second child was even born. While preparing my oldest for the arrival of her brother, I established a routine that could easily adapt to adding a third member. This way, when her brother arrived, I could easily fit him into our day-to-day life without too much interference to Charlotte’s “normal”. I hoped this would make the transition go easier, and it definitely helped!
The routine initially allowed for my son to sleep and eat as he pleased while still keeping my daughter’s regular life on track. As my youngest has grown, I have adapted the routine here and there to account for the changes in his development. For example, when he was a newborn, he slept 22 hours of the day. Now, at 5 months, he is sleeping 12 hours at night with 3 naps during the day. He is soon going to be starting solids and he’s almost ready to drop to 2 naps, so I will have to adjust the routine again to accommodate for those changes as well.
I think the key to setting up and following a routine is to not take it too seriously. When young children are involved, things change so quickly. If you try to follow their needs and adjust your plan accordingly, you will have more success and less stress. Creating a routine that stems off of their natural “clocks” and adds in your desired timeline will help in creating a routine that works for everyone.
With that said, here is my Stay-at-Home-Mom with 2 under 2 routine!
Disclaimer: Not every day follows this routine perfectly – in actuality, rarely does a day follow this routine perfectly. However, this is the goal I shoot for everyday.
7am: Mom Wakes Up
I won’t lie, I am really bad at waking up and actually getting up. My husband wakes me up on his way out the door and what I do next is so entirely dependent on the day. I would love to say I get up easily and get all my needs taken care of, but… Yeah, that has not been my reality for quite some time now. Sometimes I get up, get dressed, brush my hair and teeth, and start breakfast; and sometimes I just scroll on my phone until one of my kids wake up. I’m still trying to teach myself to go to bed earlier so that I can wake up easier, but it is a skill I am failing to learn. Regardless, I like to get that time to myself even if I just spend it lying in my bed not doing anything.
8am: Kids Wake + Morning Routine
If I did spend the first hour of my day lazing in bed, than this hour tends to be a “rush hour” in my house. It begins with me changing diapers, getting breakfast served, and throwing in laundry. After all the errands are done, I get all three of us dressed and groomed for the day. Sometimes this involves giving the two kids baths, sometimes it just involves a brushing of teeth and hair. Almost immediately after, I put my son down for his first nap and get some structured play set up for my daughter.
9am: Structured Play
Structured play for us usually involves a DIY activity. It always targets different areas my daughter is either interested in or is struggling in. She currently loves the alphabet and has all the letters memorized. Due to this, a lot of our activities have been alphabet themed recently. One we did the other day was making alphabet soup – I laid out all the letters in front of her and gave her a bowl, I then asked her to add letters “M” and “E” and mix them for soup. We slowly added more letters until all of them were added. Something fun and educational!
Some of the areas we target include: fine motor, gross motor, socio-emotional, self-care, literacy (aka reading), cognitive, dramatic play, construction, and sensory. I like to do structured play in the mornings to stimulate my daughter’s brain while also having bonding time with her. Otherwise, she tends to get pretty grumpy if not given one-on-one time early into her day.
10am: Art for Toddler + Feeding for Baby
This is one of the hours that I do not always follow. Sometimes, I just don’t even want to think about cleaning up art that I don’t do anything. Sometimes, all art is is a pen and a piece of paper monitored carefully. Art is one of those things that stress me because of how messy it can get so quickly. Unfortunately for me though, my daughter absolutely loves art. I love how much she loves it so I try hard to include it in our day at least three times a week.
This is also the time that my son tends to wake up and takes a large feeding. It used to be that when he finishes, I would give him tummy time. However, he is now interested in sitting up so I have recently started practicing with him. I either hold him in my lap or sit him in his boppy pillow with a toy.
11am: Snack Time
This time of day used to be lunch time, however Charlotte would be too grumpy to eat any lunch. So, I switched lunch and snack time around and now she eats way better. (Initially, I tried moving up lunch time but it actually made her eat less because she didn’t want to stop playing to eat quite yet. It’s been a trail-and-error situation.)
This is also the time of day that I tend to wash all of our dishes (and again after dinner is made but before Tim arrives home). I also switch the washer into the dryer and if needed, throw the next load into the washer.
12pm-2pm: Nap And/Or Quiet Time
Both kids are put down for a nap at 12pm and usually stay there until roughly 2pm. Charlotte is currently not a fan of naps since being weaned off of her soother. Instead, she’s been doing quiet time during these two hours with books and stuffed animals and lots of singing to herself. On the rare day, she will nap for about 30 minutes though. I am hoping that picks up soon and she gets back into the napping game any day now.
What I do during this time honestly depends entirely on the day. The “average” routine switches between watching Netflix while folding laundry, listening to an audio book and planning content, or napping myself. I try not to do loud chores during this time since both my kids are very light sleepers. I just don’t want to risk waking them. Instead, I just rest and relax.
2pm: Lunch Time + Bottle Time
I try to have lunch prepared for Charlotte and a bottle prepared for Michael the moment they wake up. It just makes this next hour way easier. That way, they can get right into eating and I can finish whatever I was doing during the nap hours. I also use this time to prepare for the next hour (outdoor time) if I am planning to go outside.
3pm: Outdoor Time
I won’t lie, since Michael was born, I can probably count the times we have gone outside on one hand. Going outside alone with 2 under 2 (one of them being a newborn) was so scary at the beginning. I was so worried my son would get too cold, need to eat suddenly, or have a blow out. I was also terrified my daughter would try to run away. With me wearing my son, I feared I would be slow to get her. We live next to two busy streets so you can imagine the horrible fears. (Realistically, my daughter won’t even walk two steps from us so this was just my anxiety taking over.)
By the time it got less scary to go out with them alone – winter hit. I hate winter. I hate the cold. So, that has definitely put a block on us getting outside. Since Tim uses our one and only car for his commute, that leaves us with little outdoor options. We usually have a dance party at this time as for some reason, it’s the time of day that both my kids struggle with. Not only does it turn their moods around for the better, but it’s a great gross motor activity!
4pm: Independent Play for Toddler, Nap for Baby, and Dinner Cooking for Mom
This is the time of day I hate the most. I absolutely hate cooking and find it so stressful. I try to plan and prep as much as I can ahead of time, but I still hate making dinners. Honestly, I used to not even make dinners as my daughter would put up a fight each time I tried. As she has grown and gained more independence though, it is much easier. I am now able to walk into the kitchen without her having a meltdown.
Before I start to make dinner, I put Michael down for a nap. He usually only naps for a half hour at this time of day. When he wakes up, I either put him on the mat with some toys or in his jolly jumper. He’s only recently been big enough and strong enough for some time in it and he loves it!
5pm: Get Ready for Dinner (Usually on Phone with Tim)
Tim calls me once he gets on the road. His commute is only 15 minutes but it’s a fun time for our kids to talk to him. Charlotte loves to ask what he is doing a million times in a row while telling me “Daddy’s coming home”. She usually does this while sitting in front of the door, waiting!
This is also the time when I wash dishes – if dinner is fully prepared. I like to have an empty sink for dinner dishes to load into after dinner. That way, our sink isn’t overflowing with pots and pans for too long. It’s also the last time I wash dishes for the day (YAY!) as Tim does the dinner dishes.
530pm: Dinner Time + Bottle for Baby
Once Tim gets home, he greets the three of us, changes out of his fancy work clothes and into some casual wear, and we eat dinner. Our son has recently started sitting in a highchair at the table and it’s magical. It makes him happy to see us all rather than sitting in his rocker beside the table, and it also makes me happy for our little family of four to all be at our dinner table! It’s surreal to me that in just one month, he will be joining us with eating as well.
630pm: Family Time (Or Bath Time)
After dinner is either family time or bath time, depending on the night or if the dinner was particularly messy. Tim tends to handle this hour primarily as it is the only time he has to really play with the kids during the week. Together, they read books, play with toys, and do a lot of throwing on the bed or in the sky. The kids absolutely love this time of day.
730pm: Kids Bedtime Routine
The bedtime routine consist of changing diapers, feeding our son another bottle, and getting them both in pajamas. Charlotte gets her hair brushed and teeth brushed while Michael goes to sleep. His official bedtime is 8pm but he is almost always asleep by 730pm. Charlotte, however, stays awake for another half hour to read some books, tuck in her own stuffed animals, and snuggle with Mom and Dad.
800pm: Bedtime for Kids
At 8pm, we put the kids to bed. Or, at least our daughter as our son tends to be asleep already. Putting our kids to bed generally involves holding them while we sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” twice. The first time we sing it, we change all the lyrics to whatever we feel like singing about. Sometimes it’s “Twinkle Twink Little Char, How We Love You for Who You Are” and sometimes it’s “Twinkle Twinkle Little Baby, We Love You and That’s No Maybe”. Honestly, we usually ab-lib it. It’s just a fun thing we started doing when our daughter was born.
After we sing the song a second time, the normal way, we tell our kids how much we love them, give them a big squeeze, and lower them into their cribs. Charlotte goes down without a peep until morning (usually). It took lots of work to establish a good night routine with her. On the other hand, Michael still wakes up one to three times during the night for feedings. I’m okay with it considering he is only five months old.
And that’s our day! I didn’t really specify, but I obviously change their diapers more than just the two times I stated. I tend to change them every two hours or when they need it. Hopefully reading this helps you in whatever way you need it to. You can see a visual of our daily routine below:
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