Welcome to a complete breakdown of our flexible 3 year old daily schedule – with and without a nap!
But first. Ya’ll. I have to admit something. I thought all kids napped until kindergarten because that’s what my nieces did. HA! My daughter stopped napping right after her third birthday. But fear not – you can still get that much needed down time by implementing quiet time at home.
Here’s a look at our 3 year old daily schedule at home:
Our 3 year old daily schedule
- 7:30am awake for the day + morning independent play
- 8:00am breakfast as a family
- 9:00am outdoor play / errands / playdates / classes
- 12:30pm lunch
- 1:00pm quiet time or nap time
- 2:30pm outdoor play / errands / playdates / classes
- 5:00pm independent play
- 6:00pm family dinner
- 6:30pm bath & bedtime routine begin
- 7:15pm lights out
Having a flexible routine with a toddler is life saving because we tend to be creatures of habit and toddlers like having a sense of what comes next. It makes them feel secure and more in control. As an added bonus, it helps us parents ensure they are getting enough rest too. We all know over tired toddlers are whiny and melt down over the tiniest of things.
Of course, having a flexible daily schedule still leaves plenty of room for adventures! A car nap or skipped quiet time are totally worth the new memories made.
Schedules tend to freak some people out because they believe they are too restrictive, but that’s not the case at all. You can always change them to work for you and the season of life you are in. They should make your life EASIER, and not be something you dread!
How to create your own 3 year old daily schedule
First you need to consider what time your toddler wakes up for the day. Typically you want bedtime to fall 10-12 hours before their wake up time to ensure they are getting enough night time sleep.
For example, when my daughter was napping we did lights out at 8:30pm and she would wake up at 7:00am. She napped for 1-2 hours during the day.
Once she stopped napping we pulled bedtime back to 7:00pm because she needed more night sleep to make up for the lack of the nap. Now she sleeps 7:30-7:00 most nights, but every toddler has unique sleep needs. Some will sleep 13 or 14 hours and others only require 10 or 11.
You can always try a few options to find the right balance for your toddler. In my experience it’s harder to change a wake up time and easier to adjust a bedtime. I understand that isn’t always possible with work and child care schedules so you have to figure out what works with your lifestyle.
3 year old daily schedule no nap
I highly recommend transitioning from nap straight to quiet time and still giving toddlers a much needed break from stimulation in the middle of the day. It’s a great chance for them to practice creative, independent play as well as giving their body a break too.
My absolute favorite stage was when we first introduced quiet time because my daughter was fighting her nap. She loved having the independence to choose an activity and play in her room. The best part was she would happily play for an hour and then fall asleep for 1-2 hours!
In just a couple months she ended up dropping her nap completely, but we’ve never looked back from having a nice quiet time activity in the middle of the day. In fact, I now notice significantly more whining/tantrums on the days where we skip quiet time for an activity or special guest so I do my best to ensure she gets that break.
3 year old schedule for stay at home moms
I choose to structure my day around my 3 year old’s eating/sleeping/resting because a well rested, nourished toddler is much more cooperative than a hangry, tired one.
My typical day looks something like this:
- 7:00am up for the day, simple morning routine while kids play
- 7:30am morning chores 15 minutes (with the kids if they are interested in helping)
- 7:45am make breakfast
- 8:30am clean up & pack up for outdoor play / walk / errands / playdates etc
- 12:00pm make lunch
- 1:00pm put baby to bed and then blog work / computer tasks / pay bills etc or rest, depending on the day
- 2:30pm activity with the kids
- 3:00pm outdoor play / learning activities / play dates etc
- 4:00pm workout (toddler & baby join in or play nearby)
- 5:00pm unpack from the day, finish daily load of laundry, any unfinished chores
- 5:30pm cook dinner (with the kids if they are interested in helping)
- 6:00pm dinner as a family
- 6:30pm quiet play with kids & their bedtime routine
- 7:30pm blog work / emails
- 8:30pm watch a show or relax with my husband
- 10:00pm lights out
Now, you may have noticed this schedule results in 9 hours of “sleep”… but in addition to my toddler, I also have a baby and he keeps me up all hours of the night. I look forward to the day I can sleep 8 hours straight consistently and at that point I will wake up one hour earlier giving myself even more “me time”!
This daily rhythm allows me to get my chores done, schedule in some time for myself and spend plenty of quality time with my kids too.
Of course, with kids it never feels like there is enough time in the day for your to-do list but we have to make do with the 24 hours we get. In addition to having a daily routine, another sanity saver is setting 1-3 daily intentions each day. This is key because you know where to focus your energy and it allows you to get your highest priority items taken care of. You can read more about my system for setting daily intentions here.