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How to Build Toddler Schedules | Block Schedule System

How to Build Toddler SchedulesWelcome to the world of Motherhood where you have brought home a second bundle of joy to join your Toddler in the ever-changing routine of life. Toddler Schedules quickly become a major part of your survival, not to mention all the books say you’re supposed to have a strong routine to be successful. But where to begin? At home, I have a 2-year-old and an 8-Month-old. Technically Wyatt isn’t quite yet a Toddler, but he still has to function within the Toddler Schedule.

Here is how I run my day for these ages.

How to Build Toddler Schedules

This post comes out of the mini blog unit: How to get it all Done {Block Schedule Systems} where I explain how I manage multiple small businesses from home, writing 2 blogs, raising 2 boys and oh yeah, being a wife… which tends to get left out… a lot.

From the anchor post you can gather that I section my our day into timed “blocks” of focus and then transition into the next. To make this schedule effective I have to coordinate it with the boys and their schedules since we’re all three home all day. So I suppose this post is more adequately described as building a Toddler and Infant Schedule around aWAHM Schedule.

Where do you start?

For consistency sake, I try to keep the boys as uniform as possible throughout the week without too much change to their blocks. That way they can always expect the same type of interaction from me at the same times. It also builds in that “routine” which makes life so much easier with toddlers…. And you all know how chaotic life can get when you’re off schedule. Fridays and weekends are that way and such a crap shoot… Dad is home, we leave the house, we have events, yaddah, yaddah, so I don’t really build that schedule so much as let it ride. Then Monday becomes a recovery day to get back in sync.

As I did for myself while identifying my blocks, I track for a few days/week where they spend most of their time naturally. Another big step is to identify when they are most calm, attentive, energetic and cranky. Once you can identify your most productive windows of time in the day you can begin to structure the day with your lessons or activities that you have planned for them. I am incorporating as much education into their daily lifestyles as possible while following my adapted Montessori inspired Free Movement Educational Model that I have built my Toddler School upon. I have listed the “Blocks” I want them to have below. After identifying their moods and how they are at different times of the day I can fill in the focus of the blocks.

I’ll explain better below…

Here are the Blocks I want to have my boys’ focus on:

  • Discovery Block: Quiet Time & Book Club
  • Fine Motor Block: Mess Mat
  • Toddler School: Monthly Theme Lessons
  • Book Club: Literacy Corner
  • Independent Play: Creativity Corner
  • Gross Motor Play: Mommy Muscles
  • Dad Block: Outdoor Classroom

Discovery Block | 8am-11am

From about 8am to 11am the boys are doing Discovery Learning, either independent or guided. They can be watching a movie, reading books or interacting with each other. I am overlapping this time with my Blogging Block as early as I can sneak out with Wyatt so he can discover in my office and then when Cash wakes up I am doing my Mommy Block.


This is mostly an independent play time. I sometimes will facilitate a specific themed play by filling the Discovery Basket with manipulative. Right now Wyatt is the one mostly using the Discovery Basket. He is 8 months so everything is a discovery to him. Cash is 2 so he needs exciting lessons to provoke his curiosity.

What it looks like

This time is a quiet time because it is the first Block of the morning and sometimes they are a little groggy. Or, I like that it is flexible incase on the rare occasion either of them decided to sleep in! Wyatt often wakes up way before Cash does so he actually gets two Discovery Blocks. Since he is still using the basket I can just bring it into our bedroom or into my office so his play doesn’t wake up Cash. After awhile I start preparing for Cash to get up by putting his discovery lesson out on the Mess Mat.

Cash will wake up anytime between 8am  and 10am, really unpredictable. I’ll just start hearing him yell, “Mama! I’m done!” which I think means he’s done being in his room. Other days Wyatt and I have to sneak in there to get him. He could still be asleep or he’s just reading books by himself. When he walks out his bedroom door I have something out on the Mess Mat for him, like a surprise to look forward to every morning. Sometimes he just wants to look out the windows, play in his room or watch a movie. That is entirely fine. This is an independent play time where he gets to make choices. What toddler doesn’t love that? Plus, if I play my cards right, I can plan a Discovery Kit entertaining enough where they won’t notice me sneak away to start my Mommy Block.

What I’m doing

Since they are both independently playing and are either playing with each other or watching a movie I can accomplish some Mommy chores. My Mommy Block consists of buzzing around the house doing all sorts of tasks. For a full breakdown of that block, you can visit THIS POST. But for now, let’s focus on the boys.

Fine Motor Block | 11am-11:30am

This is a structured time that I facilitate on the Mess Mat using a predetermined set of manipulatives that promote fine motor skill development. For example, during Pirate Month we did Bead Threading and Sticker Letters along with other planned lessons. I try to incorporate a variety of educational overlays including letters, colors, shapes, etc so that we are also covering the month’s goals.


What it looks like

It happens on the Mess Mat at about 11:00am, every day, same time. Whatever they are doing for Discovery we stop and transition at 11am. Perhaps we’re already at the Mat, or perhaps we’re turning off a movie. No matter what, we’re at that Mat at 11am. I set out my activity for BOTH boys, one at Cash’s skill level and another at Wyatt’s and we all three learn together in a structured lesson plan that I have pre-planned. Note, not every lesson happens as planned and sometimes we detour, which is totally fine. I love to watch their little minds work. This Block only lasts maybe 45 minutes at most. We go until Wyatt takes his nap and Cash asks for lunch. Then we clean up and transition into that. Sometimes Wyatt missed this Block if he naps earlier, we do it again later.

What I’m doing

I’m at the Mat too, focusing on my Toddler School Block and giving undivided attention to the boys while we play.

Monthly Theme Lessons | Noon-1pm

This is a broad Block and it happens right after lunch and right after Wyatt’s nap. This is my biggest chunk of Toddler School and here I teach any of our theme specific topics identified before the month begins like Pirates, Dinosaurs, Fall Harvest, etc. I also work on manners, behaviors, buzz words, and introduce new topics and skills during this Block. Cash is the most awake and active at this time of day, but not so much attentive so I keep these lessons really stimulating and not too “deep” if
that makes sense.


What it looks like

These lessons can happen anywhere on campus {household} including the kitchen, yard, bathroom or wherever. Every room in our house is a classroom! I’ve actually noticed that many good conversations happen at the window sill, so never underestimate your Free Movement Educational opportunities! I will be releasing another full post on how I write my Monthly Theme Lessons soon.

What I’m doing

I’m in Toddler Block giving undivided attention to the boys. This is my time to shine! As a former educator, this is where I flex my biggest teacher muscles for the day so I need 100% of my patience, attention, and behavioral management skill set.

Fine Motor Block-Free Choice | 1pm-1:30pm

Yep, we do it again…. Cash is a toddler so Fine Motor Development is really crucial right now. However, this round is way less structured and is free choice.

What it looks like

I do less emphasis on letters or numbers and go more for the squishy, stacking, balancing part of the skill. This is where Cash can really use whatever he wants to make a nice big MESS on the mat. Sometimes he just wants to draw or color and get out all the materials, other days I set out an ooze or play dough. Wyatt can get in on the action too since we make everything edible.

What I’m doing

I’m still in Toddler School Block supervising to make sure Wyatt doesn’t choke on anything and making sure Cash doesn’t get too carried away and draw all over his brother!

Book Club Block | 1:30pm -2pm

This is where we transition into the bedroom where we have built our Literacy Corner. After we clean up the Mess Mat we have our snacks and milk and then get settled down with our themed books.

What it looks like

All three of us hunker down and start reading. We talk about the stories, what is happening, I ask comprehension questions and we have discussions to encourage literacy. At 2:00 I tell Cash he can keep reading or take his nap, but that brother and I are going to go so he can sleep and you can relax. Cash walks us to the door and shuts it behind us. I then take Wyatt and rock him to sleep. SOMETIMES {like lately} Wyatt won’t sleep without me holding him…. So there goes my next 2 hours, but he’ll never be this small again and you blog readers don’t mind if I miss writing a post or two…. Or eight…. right?

 Double Nap Time | 2pm-4pm

IF, and that is a big, whopping if, I can get both boys to be taking their naps at the same magical time during the day and Wyatt isn’t requiring me to hold him, this is where I cram in a big portion of my professional work. I mostly do my Coordinating Block at this time because it sometimes requires me to be on the phone… and with a toddler, you all know how impossible it is to have a phone conversation when they’re awake! So I just don’t. I even go outside sometimes… and my eyes twitch in the sun…

Independent Play | 4:30pm-5:30pm

Right after nap time is both boys’ WORST time of the day. They are cranky, hungry and just plain mad at the world. It is also my worst time of the day. I’ve been in Toddler School from 11am until nap and then tried to cram in as much production as I could while they slept, if I wasn’t rocking Wyatt. Right about this time I am also trying to make some sort of dinner. It is a hard transition for me too to be brought away from my work and my professional commitments, it’s hard to leave things hanging or unfinished. I have a lot to do actually in addition to Toddler School, which I am excited to do and then having to transition from the exhilaration of my work to screaming, grouchy boys is just not fun. It sucks. I hate 4:30 to5:30pm… and I’m pretty sure the boys do too. If he’s going to be a terrible two for the day, which he really isn’t much it is going to be now. If it’s going to go south it goes hard and Cash is absolutely defiant, deviant, reckless and belligerent this hour anyway and won’t listen to a word I say anyway. BUT if you can prepare and manage it with counter actions you may save yourself….

The Toddler Hour

Everyone has this hour in their day and it is unavoidable with a toddler. That is exactly why you schedule for it and plan proactive ways to counter the destruction. See how I Win the Toddler Hour everyday. Before you make a schedule you identify this window. You move nap time, skip nap time, move lunch time and every other block around until you have determined that without a doubt, it is THIS hour that despite everything you do to prevent it, it has the most potential for utter chaos…That is exactly why the best thing I can think to do is schedule it to be the Independent play segment.

See how I’m Winning the Toddler Hour every day.

Before you make a schedule you identify this window. You move nap time, skip nap time, move lunch time and every other block around until you have determined that without a doubt, it is THIS hour that despite everything you do to prevent it, it has the most potential for utter chaos…That is exactly why the best thing I can think to do is schedule it to be the Independent play segment.

Before they are up from their naps I try to have a Baby Einstein loaded and ready to hit play. I try to have bottles ready when I open the door like an airline attendant, “Welcome back Mr. Cash, did you enjoy your nap?” Sometimes I can at least delay the
inevitable by making his wake-up experience more enjoyable, which actually exhausts me…. He can then move freely about the house playing with his toys in his room, reading books or using the Creativity Corner. He doesn’t have to be taught anything or pay attention or be behaviorally modified. He’s sick of listening to me.

What I’m doing

If all goes well and Cash is happy, sometimes I can finish up a block from earlier that day, while leaving him alone. If the ship is sinking fast, I’m hiding in their bedroom reading books hoping for the screaming to stop anytime soon. Cash wants to be held, Wyatt wants to be held, Cash will kick, push, scratch Wyatt to get him off my lap so he can get into it. Everyone is crying, everyone is upset and it’s a real royal nightmare for this hour. I always resort to reading books. They may be throwing or chewing on them, but at least they’re listening!

Gross Motor Block | 5:30pm-6:30pm

After reading a few books and exhausting every effort to recovery the evening we are calm enough to start having fun again. Now don’t get me wrong…. About 50% of our days are just fine and we simply transition from Independent Play to Gross Motor Block seamlessly. For this block we start the process burning energy, building strength and physical skills. We do big movements, drills and dance. We also do some of the activities on my Mommy Muscles program for my strength and physical wellness like Yoga and Obstacle Courses.


What it looks like

We have fantastic hardwood floors so I can pull them around to play games like Animal Overboard. We can stretch out our yoga mats and try to do planks, sit ups and pushups. We practice tossing, catching, standing on one leg, playing Hokey Pokey and all
sorts of movement.

What I’m doing

It totally depends on the mood of the boys, but sometimes I can let them do their game and other times I work around them doing my Production Block. Though I think it is important to stay engaged and in the same room to supervise any wrestling that may occur!

Dad Block | 6:30pm-8:30pm

THANK GAWD! Dad is home!

Take the boys and GO OUTSIDE…. I don’t even care what they do! I need some quiet and I need to get some of my professional obligations accomplished! Of course they are both mostly happy by this time and totally excited to see dad. They get to go outside in the stroller or with the dog or in the garage and do boy stuff. In the summer they would go out in the pool and swim in the yard. I don’t really know or care at this point in the day. It is great and important for them to have these experiences and there is no better person to teach them than dad at this stage. Mom sure doesn’t want to wash the cars!

What I’m doing

GETTING WORK STUFF DONE! Here is my time to shine professionally. I’ve been waiting for this window all day. Now, I obviously love my day and my kids or I wouldn’t be so elaborate with my Toddler School dedication, so don’t take this the wrong way! However, I am very passionate about my careers and the little business babies I’ve cranked out too. They need my love and support and I’ve got enough to give, I just have to schedule it efficiently.  And of course I don’t actually mean that by
spending my time with my children all day isn’t getting something done. I know that I’m doing a lot and raising them is getting a good job done. I mean work stuff.

Night Time Routines | 8:00pm-9:30pm

We begin the daily rituals of bedtime… baths, books, bottles, and LOTS of kisses


Example Schedule


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4 thoughts on “How to Build Toddler Schedules | Block Schedule System

  1. […] The Smoothie Experiment was such a big hit that their morning Smoothie became an expectation. We added into our daily routine as a “second breakfast” at 10:00 am every day. They wake up about 7 am so they’re ready for a pick-me-up right around that time. This is also a great time because they’re hungry, it’s not quite lunch time and if I don’t give them something they’re not going to have a good next few hours of behavior until nap time. So really, it’s in my best interest too! See how I build our Toddler Schedules in THIS POST. […]

  2. This was great! I have a 10m, 3.5&almost5 year old. I’m struggling with wahm & toddler time. We will be homeschooling so I realized suddenly I need a little more structure but not sooo much that we can’t be flexible and have fun!!! I need to re-read this with a pen in hand to see what will work for our family!

    1. Thank you! I’ll try to re-work it a bit more to make it easier to work off of and how to build your own that works for you. You’ll definitely want to get yourself a 3-tier timer. I use it every day!

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