What is your three year olds daily routine?

Luna - posted on 01/25/2012 ( 23 moms have responded )




Unfortunately, I do not have a routine for my daughter. My daughter is turning three February 14th so I want to get her in a regular habit of doing things so she can start her year right.

When is a good time to wake her up? What should she do through out the day and what times should we start them? What is the best time to prepare her for bed? What is a good bed time routine?

I know she is my daughter and I should have a schedule for her by now but I have been a work-a-holic for the past couple years so I haven't really had the time to set up a regular schedule for her. Honestly, I didn't even think about it until just recently and I feel so bad for it. So I want to start this year right by her. Please don't bash me, all I request is advice.


Beverley - posted on 01/29/2012




You have to find a routine that works for you and your daughter. I would write down what you want to get done each day and decide what is the best time to do these things. I did this and make a schedule and try it and vary it as needed. You could include things like a preschool does: reading time, crafts, outside play, free time etc... and then everything else.

Jodi - posted on 01/29/2012




I let my kids wake up when they wake up and I schedule play dates, appointments and what not around that as best I can. As it is, all 3 of mine are usually up by 7 am. Here's what I have:

7- everybody's up


8-10-play time...for us, play time is usually some dancing and high energy play since there's lots of energy early in the day followed by some table fun (coloring, play-doh, painting etc etc.)

10-snack (my twins nap right after this...but they're 1, my 3 year old no longer takes naps.)

10:15-11:30-Jaelyn (my 3 year old) and I get special time, she usually gets to pick the activity and there's no rhyme or reason behind it, something different every day.

12:00-lunch time

12:30-2:00- play time. This is the best time for outdoor play for us, or more high energy play, as the twins are high energy after morning nap and Jaelyn has new energy after lunch.

2:00-3:30/4:00-twins nap again...Jaelyn gets mommy time. This time of day she usually likes table fun, she loves to use her magnadoodle...I write block letters and she traces inside of them. She loves to practice "writing" or reading stories, puzzles...calmer activities.

4:00-6:00-more high energy, my kids really enjoy music time around this time of day...also outdoor play again.

6:00- supper time. Lots of talking about our day.

6:30-7:00- More special time with mommy or daddy for Jaelyn while the twins get bath and bed. Lots of stories, cuddling and doll play.

7:00-bath (about 15-20 min), brush teeth and put on jammies, read 2-3 stories, cuddle and sing a song with lights out then mommy or daddy leaves the bedroom.

about 8-11 pm- clean-up, prep for next day and mommy/daddy time!

Your schedule should be based on your child...maybe your child needs quiet time after naps and high energy play just before meals. Maybe she dislikes table play but loves floor time. Try different things and figure out what the natural flow of things is for your daughter and create a schedule around that that also works for you as best you can. Good luck! Oh, and for me and my kids, it works great to give a 5 and 2 minute warning before changing activities. Such as, if my kids are playing restaurant with their kitchen set just before lunch I will say, "Jaelyn, 5 minutes before we eat lunch." and then, "In 2 minutes you need to come eat lunch." It gives them warning that they'll have to be done with what they're doing soon, and gives them a heads up of what to expect next...it really helps me daughter out a lot. My 1 year old twins don't get it yet obviously, but they will!!!

*edit to add

This would be a perfect day for us btw, which is rare. I really think of our day as more routines than a schedule...although I'm trying to get better!!!

Jenny - posted on 02/08/2012




To be honest, I really think it depends on the child. My son is 3 1/2 and we have a very loose schedule. He wakes up when he wakes up, we generally eat at the same time every day, but like you, I don't always work at the same time, his dad doesn't always get off work at the same time, he goes to a family friend's house in the in between time, so it would be incredibly hard to formulate a schedule that could be the same every day. My oldest was in the same situation, and he's happy and well adjusted and does really well in school. If I were a stay at home mom, I'm sure I would be able to have a stricter schedule, but one now just wouldn't work for us.

Katherine - posted on 01/25/2012




Wake up

eat breakfast

get dressed

brush teeth, wash face, brush hair

watch a little TV

take a walk



lunch at 11a

play some more

sometimes we do story time at the library

sometimes we have play dates

dinner 4p

snack 7p

bedtime is 7:30

brush teeth, wash face


Luna - posted on 01/12/2013




Hello everybody,

Just an update. I know work as a full time cake decorator with a regular schedule of 10-7. I am attempting to work 9-6 or even 8-5 for the reason that my daughter doesn't seem to be coping very well with my hours at all. They are consistent finally, but she still doesn't seem to be getting the attention she is craving. Everyday she tells me she misses me. I know she says it sometimes just so she doesn't have to go to bed, but other times, it feels like she is being serious. There isn't a day she doesn't say that.

I am in college now, so that takes time away from her as well. I figured, if I work earlier in the day, I would have more time with her at once rather than 2 hours in the morning, getting ready for the day, and two hours at night before she goes to bed. I know that isn't a lot of time with her, and it makes me so sad. This is why I am going to try to speak with a manager about my schedule... I know they won't want to change it again though... I did speak with my department manager and it sounds like she might help me out on this one.

If all else fails, I will be seeking a job related to my degree. Probably at a bank. At least, at a bank, they aren't usually open past 6.


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Molly - posted on 01/12/2013




I understand the frustration of changing schedules. My husband works 7p-7a on different days every week. The kids are in preschool 3 mornings a week. And I work only when they're in preschool because I'm never sure in advance if my husband will be around to help out.
I have a 3.5YO and 2YO. I've found, like an earlier poster suggested, that creating a schedule/routine for every single day, no matter whether she's with you or at childcare will help her most. Even though learning and new experiences are important at this age, even more important is a feeling of security and stability. Since its highly unlikely that daycare will flex to meet a schedule you develop, its probably easiest to follow the routine they have. They should be providing meals, snacks and naps/sleep at developmentally appropriate times and you can make everything else rotate around that.
Best luck!

[deleted account]

I had 1 kid start her own routines from day 1 and the other it just evolved over a long time. I think if you're just starting out concentrate on one part of the routine first and the rest will most likely fall into place. I would start with a good bedtime routine. We do cleanup time, bath, books and bed, it has never failed us. Be sure to leave the TV or other distractions off so your child can gear down. With a good bedtime my daughters wake up at reasonable hours and eat at regular intervals without worrying too much about scheduling. We leave a lot of freedom to playtime and our daughters let us know when they want us to play too. Good luck.

Di - posted on 02/06/2012




When my son was little he practically forced me into a routine- very much like some of those listed- if we didn't keep to the schedule he wouldn't settle and we would all suffer! When my daughter came along 18 months later she upset the whole thing because she wasn't a routine kind of girl- she never did anything at the same time twice. The funny thing is that now, my son (19) is very relaxed and my daughter (17) is very much a creature of habit! Who would of thought it!

Yurena - posted on 02/02/2012




I wish you all the best, let us know if things improve. If everybody does want fix hours maybe a group meeting is in order for everybody's sake, so odd timetables are really the exception. With those skills you could perhaps do cake decorating lessons, very fashionable now, you could make a few box for a rainy day.

Luna - posted on 02/02/2012




I work in the bakery section. Everybody wants fixed schedules, but for some reason, nobody is able to have one. I am the only cake decorator at the moment, so lately, I haven been working 10-7 two or three days out of the week (which is nice), but it usually depends on if there is a closer or not. if there is a closer, I come in anywhere between 7 and 10, and if there isn't I come in between 10 and 12. I will talk to the manager and see if they can work with me on my schedule a bit. Thank you very much.

Yurena - posted on 02/02/2012




Can you swap hours with some of your work colleagues? Would you consider changing jobs, perhaps same sort but fixed hours? It really seems you are in a catch 22. Over here you can change hours around or have fixed days. I would speak to one of the managers (mum, female, if possible) letting her know my concerns for the hectic life you and your daughter are having, she may be able to move somethings around without bothering anybody, What about the rest of the peope that work with you, what type of timetables do they have? It seems a bit weird not to have fixed times, at least half of the adult population working do have family responsibilities.

Luna - posted on 02/02/2012




The daycare she goes to works with my hours. They will stay open till 11pm upon request except on weekends. I work at walmart. If I change my availability, it is likely they will cut back my hours, which I cannot afford.

Yurena - posted on 02/02/2012




Then I would use their schedule, specially mealtimes, to do at home, if mealtimes are fixed you get less issues, tantrums, they know what to expect. I would try to get her always to bed at the same time, even if I need to ask someone to pick her up. What type of job do you do, is there any way of making your hours less crazy, won't they take into account you ar a single parent? Sometimes asking explicitly can make a real difference. What do you do when you work till late, where does your little one go?

Luna - posted on 02/02/2012




It is just myself and my daughter. She goes to daycare while I am at work. I asked her school for their schedule, I won't be getting it till next week.

Yurena - posted on 02/02/2012




Who is helping with childcare? Do you have a partner? Can family help? Does she go to nursery?

Luna - posted on 02/02/2012




Thank you very much everybody. I appreciate the thought and time you put into your replies. I have been working on a schedule for my daughter and myself, but it is kind of hard to be exact, especially since my work schedule is so hectic. How can I work a routine in my daughters life if I am working random hours of the day? For example

sat 7-4

sun 10-7

mon 7-4

tues off

wed 8-5

thu off

fri 11-8

My hours are never the same, and my days off are never the same.

Medic - posted on 01/29/2012




My daughter just turned 2 and my son is 5 and is homeschooled...we have had the same basic routine their whole lives.

7:45-8 they wake up, come in our room and watch tv


930-1030ish they play or my son finishes up any school work from previous day

1030-1130 my son starts new school work and my daughter plays

1130 lunch

12- naptime

she sleeps until about 3 he only sleeps until about 130

he does school work

1500 they have snack and play

1600 he has karate or dance

1700 we start dinner

1830 she take a bath and goes to bed

1930 he goes to bed, he usually bathes after her and finishes up school work

Determined - posted on 01/27/2012




My daughter will be 3 in April.

7:30 wake up


cartoons til about 8:30(while I pick up:breakfast dishes, vacuum, make the beds, etc)

after I'm done with my mommy duties usually no later than 8:30-9 we have learning time were we practice our colors, abc's and shapes for about an hour and a half

11-12 free play what ever she wants to do

12 lunch time

12:30 pick up our toys

1-3:30 nap time

after nap she gets a small snack

dad gets home at 4 and they play while I prep dinner

around 5-6 dinner

then we just hang out all trying to play together or watch a movie until 8:30 then she takes a bath and brushes teeth

9 PM is bed time put on pj's, read a book, by 9:15 she's in bed for the night

Yurena - posted on 01/27/2012




Painting, playdoh (you can make it with them), sticking stuff to cardboard/paper, walk to shops/park, dressing up, painting your face, making cards. I am guilty of letting them watch a lot of telly, got a 3 floor small house (weird layout), everythime I go to do something, cooking, bathroom, whatever, tehy destroy the house, they like to take cereal from the kitchen and throw it all over (yes, I put a gate, my son can pass a little chair over, climb over gate, take the cereal, high cupboard, chair again, pass it out, share with his sister in his mischieve). They have a great time but there is a lot of telling off. Tv keeps them in a bit of trance most of the time. Any ideas welcome too! xxx

Yurena - posted on 01/27/2012




I think it is very important also to make it clear for her that is not a punishment, this will be perceived as such if you look tense, or in a hurry. Keep in mind it may take a lot of twiking and some days will be chaotic, this is normal. But each day is a new opportunity to start afreash. If you find her reticent, get her a little baby doll she can take care of and do the routine with, and tell her in advance what is going to be happening during the day, less chance of tantrums. 'We are going to have breakfast, make sure your dolly eats all her cereal so she can go and play', ' I think it's time for your doll's bath, let's get everything ready', and when you are there 'you can bath her better if you on in the bath, then you are both really clean', 'let's read a story to dolly, she is tired and needs to rest, tomorrow we are going to...'; little things like this may help her be cooperative. If it doesn't work, chart rewards can be good, for eating all your dinner, or picking up your toys, for everything, but don't make several at the same time, confussion and desinterest may arise. You may want to plan a week routine and meals on paper an discuss it with your partner (I decide, my husband goes with it, cos he is only here at night), see how it goes, then twick it to suit you better. I really hope you nail it down soon. x

Yurena - posted on 01/27/2012




Many people do that. From now on stick to a routine, a logical one that suits you all, specially the child. At home mine wake up around 7-7.30, some days much earlier, few days slightly later (would love to sleep more!). My girl is 2 1/2, my son almost 4. He has nursery at 12.15, so they have breakfast at 8 (porridge with a bit of honey and hakf a glass of milk), lunch at 11.30 (homemade mostly, the ocassional fish fingers and beans), we get ready, walk 15min to school. The have dinner at 4 (also homemade, maybe veg and lentil cream, cheesey pasta, all depends on what they ate for lunch, trying to compensate if they didn't eat too well). They have milk and toast, or cereal, sometimes an omelette, around 6.30-45. Quick bath, piyamas, a story, in bed by 7.30, normally asleep within minutes. I have been doing it like this since the beginning, both on a routine from about 6months. You get phases where they don't want to eat, or sleep early, but generally works well, they don't question it. If you don't have much time, cook in batches, stews are good for this and ever so nutritious. You can leave clothes ready on a chair from the night before, shoes by the door, etc. Every little helps saving a couple of minutes here and there. The most important thing I reckon is to try to organize yourself logically, if you are working certain hurs you can't change you need to accomodate them or ask for help. And if you have a partner you need him supporting, participating, essential. I hope this gives you some inspiration. They have a routine but my house is a tip, if it makes you feel any better. x

Julie - posted on 01/26/2012




I firmly believe children need structure, albeit, I’m guilty of not following through. My children, 3 ½ and 2 yo, attend daycare three days a week where it is the same routine every day. On the days that they are home with me, I keep a very loose schedule, but it goes something like this. The first four items are the same every day of the week.

1.Wake – 6am (I keep them on the same schedule as days I work so it’s a consistent schedule.)

2.Get dressed

3.Eat breakfast

4.Watch PBS (30 – 60 min)

5.Free play - toys, puzzles, read books, color, dance, bake cookies

6.Snack (9- 9:30)

7.Read books together or more free play

8.Go outside to play (15-30 minutes)

9.Lunch (11:00 – 11:30)

10.Naptime: (noon- 2pm) read two books, must stay in bed either listen to a lullaby CD or read books. (Up no later than 2, sometimes up as early as 1:30)

11.Slowly wake up, play, snuggle.

12.Snack (3:00 – 3:30)

13.Play outside, in the yard, on the covered deck, go for a walk, or the park (30-60 min)

14.Watch PBS while I get dinner ready

15.Dinner (6:00 – 6:30)

16.Start bedtime routine: (7:00) Set the mood with low lights, calming lullaby music. Look at aquarium fish night-light thingy. I’m firm on the next items:

•put on jammies,


•brush teeth

•drink of water

•two books

•Bible story


•one hug

•one kiss

•turn on star lights

•turn off fish

•walk out of room and say nothing else to them.

If I don’t do everything on this list my oldest son gets out of bed and reminds me, then his brother gets up and things go downhill.

17.Lights out 7:45

18.Crash on sofa with exhaustion and think, good lord I have to do that all over again in 10 hours! :)

The morning routine may change and we do story time, run some errands, go to a museum, but I almost always have them at naptime no later than 12:30 and still wake them at 2:00.

Laura - posted on 01/25/2012




We put our youngest boy (21 months) to bed at 8:30 pm and our oldest (3 years) to bed at 9pm.

Wake up- 830-9am

play from 9-noon

lunch at noon

nap at 1pm

they wake up at 230-3pm

play till dinner around 6pm

get their baths at 730pm

sit on the couch with us and watch some calm shows or movie

then we read them a book and put them to bed by 9pm

Ever since my kids learned to walk they always knew that their feet couldnt touch the floor after their bath b/c the had clean feet! so we always cuddle on the couch a little before bed time and they get a little snack like yogurt or something.

As for what you could do to keep her occupied throughout the day, you could play dress up with her when you are home and other things like that, that she takes interest in.

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