You don’t have to create a stay-at-home mom schedule to be effective at parenting.
But experts agree that
engaging, predictable environments and ongoing positive adult-child interactions are necessary for promoting children's social and emotional development and preventing challenging behaviors. You can help by following clear and simple schedules and routines. (1).
How often should I change my schedule?
Your stay-at-home mom schedule will change as your children grow up. Needs and goals evolve over time and you want to be able to make small adjustments and shifts that keep things running smoothly.
There are many variables that you’ll take into consideration when constructing your personal SAHM schedule. First, consider the following tips and strategies for making a schedule that will eliminate chaos and provide plenty of structure. (But not too much!)
Are your children home with you all day?
For example, a toddler schedule will require nap time, and playtime, whereas older kids may only need your supervision after school. A 3-year-old will have significantly different needs than a middle schooler.
Another important thing to consider with little ones is to leave time in between activities. With infants and toddlers, it’s best not to schedule every minute. Naps may be shorter or (hopefully) longer than you planned.
According to a New York Post article, parents typically only have about 30 minutes to themselves each day after all is said and done. Not cool.
Don’t fill up the whole day with activities. This can lead to chaos. Having every minute accounted for is stressful. Not leaving a buffer between activities will lead to failure.
You’ll want to plan your downtime to relax and unwind. So schedule some free time, not only for your children but also for you! This is even more important if you also work from home. (More on that further down in this post.)
Create Your Own Schedule
If you homeschool, or even during the summer, you might want a schedule format that makes it easy to shift things around. Years ago, I used a poster board and post it notes to create a schedule that was easy to change. You can see it in this portion of an old video.
I love creating schedules! For as long as I can remember they've always made me feel better. When it feels like things are out of control, creating a routine brings a sense of order.
With newborns and toddlers, there will be many things about your day that you can't control. This phase won’t last forever, so schedule the things you can. Bath time, snack time, and sleep are a few that you’ll want to add in.
Sleep has to be at the top of your to-do list, you just can't prioritize it enough during this phase of life, and well all of your life. If necessary, line up child care during certain times in the week so you can run errands more efficiently.
If possible, you might even swap child care with a friend so each of you can run errands while the kids play.
The Benefits of a Daily Schedule
Having a schedule is very grounding. It can alleviate the overwhelm, calm the chaos, and create breathing room. Here are some other advantages of using a schedule:
- creates structure so kids know what to expect
- sets a good example for children by establishing healthy habits, like brushing teeth before bed or taking a walk after lunch
- teaches self-discipline – children may be upset when Lego playtime ends today, but they know they’ll have another chance to play tomorrow
- prevents meltdowns because children get used to knowing what happens next
- helps promote better sleep
- kids feel more secure when things go according to a plan
- contributes to a calm environment
The Basics of Creating a Schedule
If possible, set up a desk area where you can run the house, after all, you are the CEO of your home. I like to use Multitasky organizing systems to keep my desk in order. Once you get a space set up to work from, you will feel clear-headed and ready to plan.
Focus on one thing at a time.
Building a routine starts with the tasks that must be done such as school, meals, and sleep. After those are in place, you can fill in the extras. Just don't fill every minute of the day to the point where you don't have room for delays. There will always be unexpected phone calls, someone at your door, spills, and messes, and other “urgent” things that come up. You want to have some wiggle room.
If you homeschool your children, you’ll likely have a more in-depth schedule. Unless of course, you prefer the “unschool-method.”
A bare-bones schedule might look like this:
7:30 – Drop off kids at school
12:00 – Lunch
3:30 – Pick up kids from school
6:00 – Dinner with family
7:00 – Kids baths
8:00 – Bedtime
Work at Home Mom Schedules
Working from home presents a variety of challenges. By that, I mean, you're required to account for your time to an employer, even if that employer is YOU.
I've never met a woman with children who wasn't a “working mom” because parenting is work. Adding employment, the kind with a boss not in diapers, just adds a different dynamic.
My personal experience is that balancing a job with motherhood is not an easy task. I've talked with doctors, lawyers, psychologists, nurses, teachers, and even a hot air balloon operator. Having a job while raising children presents challenges.
I'll address those in a work at home mom schedule post, although, if that's you, you may want to keep reading because a lot of the skeleton schedule will be the same.
SAHM Self Care
Make sure you work some self-care rituals into your day. Some of my favorites include:
- taking supplements
- reading a book
- sitting in a sauna
- taking a walk
Another part of self-care is teaching kids to share the responsibility of keeping the home in order.
You'll pat yourself on the back later if you teach your kids early on to pick up and put away one set of toys before they bring out another. Letting them help you with household chores can also prepare them for adulthood. Even though in the beginning it may take more time and effort than if you simply did the chore yourself. These skills are incredibly valuable and are not typically taught in school. So, it's up to us.
Having children do a quick clean-up after playtime will make your life easier. If they've been in a habit of moving on to the next activity while you pick up, this may require a bit of retraining. No worries, just let them know that “we're creating a new habit, and mom needs your help!”
Also, keep in mind that with yourself and your children, it's a good idea to learn to accept good enough and not expect perfection.
Your Daily Routine
It helps if you start by writing down what you currently do in a day. From there you can see where you might like to change it up or plan activities in a different order.
Here’s a helpful but simple weekly schedule you can use to sketch out what you already do.
Another helpful tool that I have used in the past is Trello. The cards on Trello are like post-it notes in the video I linked to above. You can drag and drop them from one column or day to another.
It’s easy to get caught up in creating a schedule yet never getting around to implementing what you plan. So remember, keep it simple.
Making the most of mornings will depend a lot on what you do the night before. If you'll be exercising, lay out your workout clothes. For work online, make sure your laptop is charged and any papers or books you may need are nearby.
Coffee drinkers, grind the beans before you go to bed. You want to set yourself up for success in every possible way.
Unless you have reason to do otherwise, try to keep lunch as simple as possible. Soups are the easiest home-prepared food I have found for lunch. In the morning, throw the ingredients into a slow cooker or instant pot and set it to be ready by lunch.
Sandwiches and leftovers are also nice to have for lunch and an excellent way to keep lunch simple.
Depending on the age and stage of children at home during nap time. Throw in a load of laundry during lunch and let those appliances work while you take a break. If you have young children, what do you want to do with the time while they nap?
This is rare precious quiet time for you, so make the most of it. You might take this time to neutralize stress using a tool like NuCalm or simply take a nap yourself!
Wake Up Times for Kids
Much of the success of getting kids in bed on time depends upon the bedtime routine. Practice good sleep hygiene and teach your children to follow a bedtime routine. This will help them immensely as they grow up.
Your bedtime routine might look like this:
- Baths and brush teeth after dinner
- Pick out clothes for school tomorrow
- Read a book together
- Tuck in and go to sleep
After school routine
With school-age children, you'll still want to have some order to those hours after school. Here's a routine that worked well for us:
- Hang up backpack, put away school things
- After school snack
- Free play (inside or outside)
Free Printables for Creating a Stay At Home Mom Schedule
You can use some or all of the following to help you plan your own stay-at-home mom schedule.
These will help you get started. You can also use Google Calendar or an app on your phone to set it up. The best stay-at-home mom schedule is the one that you create for your unique situation. Hopefully, these tips and suggestions get you motivated and ready to implement that perfect routine.
- Hemmeter, Mary Louise; Michaelene Ostrosky, and Lise Fox. “Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning: A Conceptual Model for Intervention.”School Psychology Review 35(4) (2006): 583–601.