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Daily routine for 3 year old?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ds is 3, and we're having a rough time lately. Every single thing is such a battle. After reading the post about all us moms of 3 year olds having similar troubles, I want to get my day into more of a rhythm/schedule.

Right now I wake up when ds does (usually between 6 and 7), he goes to the potty, I help him change clothes, then we make/eat breakfast. Around then is when ds2 wakes up, and we hang with him on the bed a few minutes before I change/feed him. After that the day is mostly unstructured. We have a snack midmorning, then lunch around noon, then he lies down for "rest time" for 30 minutes. There's an afternoon snack, dinner around 5:30 or 6, then bedtime at 7. But all the time in between eating is just him wandering from one thing to another with nothing really planned.

I really think ds would benefit from having a familiar routine every day. But I'm not sure where to start. I'd love to hear what you're days are like and get some suggestions for how to set up our day.

post #2 of 10
Our basic day
wake up at 9
brush teeth
get dressed
it's about 9:30 now-we work on ABCs/ numbers/ colors/ shapes (whatever she feels like)
10:00 play toys or go to playgroup
11:00 snack time! I let her help make it, so it takes more time
11:30 we clean together- laundry and vaccuum, usually
12:00 play time
12:30 lunch
1:00 story time
1:30 nap time
3:30-4:00 up again
play until dinner at 5:00- she 'helps' cook
6:00 play time with daddy, or in nicer weather family walk time
7:00 bath time, then jammies, brush teeth, story, then
7:30 bed time!

Wow, that's really, really detailed, but it's a pretty good look at what we daily do. I didn't set out to schedule, it's just how things have worked out between what she wants to do and what needs to happen. We play group at least once a week, if not more. I have a kiddo that really, really thrives on scheduling- she loves to know what happens next.
post #3 of 10
Wow, theretohere, can your child give mine lessons in sleeping 14 hours a night AND taking a nap? My DS gave up his nap several months ago. He still needs it, and will fall asleep if we happen to be in the car about that time, but convincing him to take it is a battle.
I'm there with you linclane. I feel like I ought to have a more structured day. I spend a lot of time following my kids from one activity to the next. They play well together, but I feel like I should be giving them more guidance, if that makes sense.
post #4 of 10
Originally Posted by quarteralien View Post
Wow, theretohere, can your child give mine lessons in sleeping 14 hours a night AND taking a nap? My DS gave up his nap several months ago. He still needs it, and will fall asleep if we happen to be in the car about that time, but convincing him to take it is a battle.
I'm there with you linclane. I feel like I ought to have a more structured day. I spend a lot of time following my kids from one activity to the next. They play well together, but I feel like I should be giving them more guidance, if that makes sense.
Don't envy too much- she still wakes often in the night needing rocking! Although I've found that the more sleep she gets at night the better she naps... and the better she naps the more she sleeps at night!
She's always needed her sleep.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well, I will say that I believe sleep begets sleep. But with that said, my ds stopped napping a few month ago. Honestly, it sucks. He still really needs to nap, he's exhausted the last half the day. But me trying to get him to nap became too much a struggle (hours of crying, not good), so I gave up. At first he started sleeping longer nights, then after a week, he went back to his regular night schedule, but didn't add the naps back in. Anyway, we're still trying to deal with that.

Thanks for the run down of you day theretohere. It's going to be hard for me to stick to something like that (I'm so used to just hanging out all day), but I know it will benefit my kiddo, so I'll have to rise to the occasion.
post #6 of 10
Hi Jessica - I have a 4yo and a 2yo, so we've been through the 3's with DD#1and are heading back into them soon with DD#2!

We have a combination of routine/schedule. Meaning, there is a routine to the day that sometimes follows the clock and sometimes does not. The routine (order to the day) is more for the kids - the schedule (looking at the clock) is more for Mom and Dad.

I really believe in "markers" to the day for little ones who can't tell time - familiar things that happen at roughly the same time everyday to give them a "space" in their day, KWIM? It's not so much about doing EXACTLY the same thing everyday, but having enough of a routine, so they know where they *are* in the day. Little songs, blessings, etc., help. If that makes sense...

Our day goes something like this:

6:30-7am - DDs wake up. 4yo plays on her own, 2yo plays in her crib. They are in their own rooms. We don't co-sleep anymore.

7am - I get up, shower, and go to meet the girls about 7:30am. Sing good morning song - a "marker" in the day.

Snuggle time/nursing/play time with Mom. I have found with my older DD that just 10 minutes of play time first thing in the morning really starts her day off great. She doesn't nurse anymore, so it's the equivalent of that focused Mommy-time that my still-nursing 2yo gets first thing in the morning.

Girls get dressed.

Mom makes breakfast while girls play.

Breakfast together at table. Say blessing - another "marker" in the day.

Mom cleans up kitchen while girls play. I'm sort of watching the clock during the morning - if we have somewhere to go, I'll speed things up a bit, or relax a bit if we have more time. That is the "schedule" part of things.

We play, or get ready to go somewhere. I have found that an outing in the morning has been really good for my girls. Even somewhere simple, but just to get OUT of the house in the mornings is good. It gets our blood moving. We have different places to go - park, playground, playdate, botanical gardens, goat farm, zoo, beach, pool, aquarium, library, classes, playgroups, etc. Just something to get us out, meet some friends, play, get an errand done, etc.

We usually eat a picnic lunch out - another routine in the day, and saves money.

Then back home after lunch for naptime/quiet time. You say he isn't napping anymore. My 4yo quit napping at age 2. And my 2yo is starting to skip her naps. I think it's great that you still have him go down for a rest time. You could also have him play quietly on his own for a certain length of time. Here's what we are doing right now:

Naptime/quiet time starts around 2pm, after getting home from an outing. If my 2yo will not go to sleep after about 30 minutes, then I have her get out of her bed and play quietly in her room. We talk with her about quiet time, how everyone in the family is having quiet time, etc. We are teaching her early, because it took a long time for my 4yo to get the hang of quiet time. She would always want us to play with her instead. But she is doing better with it now.

We did teach our 4yo how to tell time. At 3:30pm, quiet time is over and it's snack time. That is another great routine/marker for the day. Snack time lasts for 20-30 minutes and then we clean up toys and head outside for some fresh air before dinnertime. I have found this to be really helpful to get them to sleep at night at a decent time. Lots of fresh air in the late afternoon.

Then it's back in for dinner (5:30pm), playtime with Dad, bath (6:45pm), milk and stories with Mom and Dad, brush teeth and bedtime (8pm).

I think getting your little one to bed at 7pm is great. My girls have fluctuated with bedtimes from 7pm to 8pm depending on how their naps were going, and other things.

Hope this is useful!
post #7 of 10
My feedback for the 3 year old, is lots of vigorous exercise in the early part of the day or after lunch if you eat a little early like 11am. My 3 yo can now walk a good mile with me and this does wonders for his constitution. His body seems to crave the physical work ( and helps him grow stronger bones and muscles). We have even done a natural sink hole with like 25 flights of stairs to the bottom and back with a 1/2 mile hike-he talked the entire time so he wasn't even that pooped out.
We do start each day with breakfast, then getting dressed, going potty, and putting in a load of laundry (I don't recommend the dials on the back of the machine, the kids have to climb up on top to start the sucker--which is their favorite part)
Snack time we do from a little while after lunch to dinner time, it varies. My favorite types of snack times are:
4 oclock tea time, this is when we eat desert at our house and I like a cup of tea with it.
beer(430 or 5)-thirty: chips and a beer (with some better beverage choices for the kids) on the back porch for those scorcher days 90 degrees 100 percent humidity. This is while the little ones play in the back yard or the mini-pool. I have the baby swing hooked up next to the lawn chair for easy access and I can catch up on family phone calls during this time too since the kids are happy they don't usually pull "phone manners".

530-6 dinner, if the kids are hungrier I feed them while I am cooking if what I planned is taking too long. If they are okay then they eat with us at 630.
post #8 of 10
Wow. I'd love to have something like this. I'm really struggling with my three year olds.
Our problem is that when naps went sleeping has been very inconsistent. I never know when they are going to wake to start the day. Yesterday one kiddo woke up before 6 and the other at 6:30. Today I think it was 7:30 for both. They fall asleep at night inconsistently too depending on how over-tired they are and how long it has been since a nap has happened (I still do a rest time but they rarely sleep; yes they need it but I'm coming to see that we are really outgrowing the ability to take a nap).
I'm going to have to think more on what some of you have written, though, and see if I can discipline myself. I think it would be good for us. I know some of the issues we are having are because my boys don't know what to do with themselves. I don't know either (it has been too cold to spend much time outside here for what seems like forever). I feel like a loser parent lately.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the suggestions. We've spent this week working the kinks out of our routine. It's taken some time to figure out what will work for us and what won't.

Here's what we've come up with:

6:30 wake up, potty
6:45 breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed
7:00 free play (wash dishes, start laundry)
7:30 play-doh (linc bath/jess shower)
8:30 park/playgroup/errands (mon: little gym @ 9:15)
10:00 snack time, then movie (linc nap)
11:00 we clean together- rotate vac, br, dust, etc...
12:00 lunch
12:30 rest time (linc nap)
1:00 bath
1:30 story time
2:00 outside play (linc nap)
3:00 snack
3:30 ABCs/numbers/colors/shapes (maybe craft/paint)
4:00 clean up, then movie (linc nap)
5:00 dinner
6:00 play time with daddy (maybe family walk)
6:45 jammies, milk, movie
7:00 brush teeth, story, bed time (linc bed)

The times are not important though. I've focused more on doing the things in the same order, not at a certain time. But for me to look at it and to keep up with things, I've listed it with times. It's doing us good already. Ds1 can already tell me what's coming next and stays busy, so he's not just wandering and bored. It hasn't eliminated all the meltdowns (of course) but it has helped a great deal. It's been harder for me to adjust to this than him. And I think the hardest part is fitting ds2 into it. He's only 4 months and not totally predictable yet with when he wants to nurse or sleep. And sometimes things get shifted a little so I can do what I need to with the baby. But overall it's been helpful to really stick by this routine daily.
post #10 of 10
One suggestion:

I see you have gym once a week in the morning. Are there other things like this you could add? My DD loves having something to look forward to each day, and she loves having something to tell people about when we see friends or when Daddy gets home.

For example, she has dance one morning, gymnastics one morning, library story hour one morning, a standing playdate with a friend one morning, and a visit to our elderly neighbor whom she calls Nana one morning a week. She knows if it is Tuesday, it is dance day. There are a lot of free things if you don't want to pay for classes -- libarary story hour, and a museum near us has a free class once a week we used to go to, and Barnes and Noble also has story hour. Many moms bring their babies to the activities and the babes either sleep or crawl around on the sidelines.

Just an idea, but it looks like you already have a good schedule figured out!
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