Life with Lots of Littles: Daily Schedule

This post is the first in a new series for my blog.  For a list of other topics covered, please click on the image below.

A few months ago, a mother in my homeschooling group who has 4 children under 7 noticed she was depending too much on large chunks of screen time to keep her older children entertained throughout the day.  She reached out for ideas on how to fill a day without using the TV as heavily.

My kids get hardly any screen time.  They watch maybe one 20 minute episode of Brother Francis a month, if that.  So, I would say limiting screen time is quite doable, even with lots of little ones in the house.   Here is our daily schedule, with 4 kids under age 6:

  • 7 a.m.: morning play time (in their rooms or mine – some of my kids need morning cuddle time)
  • 8 a.m.: dress/teeth/potty/morning chores
  • 9 a.m.: prayer time, breakfast
  • 10 a.m.: mandatory potty break, morning routine of stretches, school at home four days/week (Kindergarten, then preschool) while the others play in the living room.  On days off: back yard time, play dates, shopping trips, walks, etc.
  • 12 p.m.: prayer time, lunch
  • 1 p.m.: nap time/quiet time
  • 3 p.m.: mandatory potty break, play time (indoors or outside); I begin cooking for dinner
  • 5:30 p.m.: clean up toys; prayer time
  • 6 p.m.: dinner as a family
  • 7 p.m.: play time (indoors our outside) or family activity, prayer time
  • 8 p.m.: undress/teeth/potty, book, prayers, bedtime
  • 9 p.m.: lights out; kids must stay in their room
Now, in truth, our meal times are usually at certain times (9/noon/6) while everything else just happens when it does.  However, the above schedule is something I work towards every day for my children.  It is manageable, and my children know what to expect next.  They know that they stay upstairs in the morning until their teeth have been brushed.  They know that they have to clean up their toys before they can eat.  They know they need to get ready for bed after Night Prayer is finished.

As for keeping young children from that terrible gloomy prospect of BOREDOM and the temptation to turn on the TV too often, I rotate toys every four weeks, plus I mix things up a bit throughout the week: Waffle Wednesday, family game nights on Thursday (board games for age 2 and up), Sausage Saturday…  This really seems to give my kids something to look forward to from one day to the next.  Some days, I don’t have any more motivation than that they get to play with play dough while I cook dinner, but it’s enough for them.  Plus, when the 4 year old is fighting me at the sink, it’s “If you want French toast Friday today, you’re going to have to let me brush your teeth.”  Bam!  Mouth opens.  Amazing.

I do require my older two (age 4 & 5) to have quiet time during the toddlers’ nap time.  They know they have to whisper and can’t jump around/yell/bang things/etc.  They begin quiet time in their rooms then gravitate to my room where their Lego bins, puzzles with smaller pieces, and their board games are only available during nap time.  This rule makes for a nice change in noise level during the afternoon, and it keeps the tiny choking hazards out of my toddlers’ mouths.

Finally, you may notice the recurrence of “prayer time” in our schedule.  We have found that family prayer times are so essential to our day-to-day life that I am going to dedicate a separate post to the topic here

So, this is our daily routine.  It is manageable, and it is broken into small chunks in different parts of the house to keep things interesting for young children to make it through the day.  I am lazy by nature, and would love to just let my kids stay up as long as they want, or eat when they want, but if I did, the lives of all of our family members would suffer.  Keeping to a routine has helped them (and me) flourish.

May God bless you, no matter what your day-to-day life looks like.