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Here is an easy to follow, simple summer schedule for toddlers from a mom of three!

It’s that time of year again: summer break! With so many things vying for your attention, crafting an effective summer schedule for toddlers can seem daunting. But having a plan in place is key to keeping your sanity, and making sure your little one is staying active and having fun this season.

I’m a mom of three sharing our summer routine and schedule for my toddlers and preschooler. I’m a fan of schedules and routines in general (they keep me from becoming a total hot mess) and find that in the summer time we generally have to adjust and tweak our schedule a little bit to account for more time outside and all the fun things that summer brings.

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summer routine - lettuce with girl walking beneath

Why Make a Summer Schedule?

A summer schedule for toddlers can bring numerous benefits! Besides helping your toddler know what to expect and therefore potentially reduce stress and melt downs, it can also help YOU keep your own sanity. Here are several reasons why implementing a summer schedule for your toddler can be highly beneficial:

  • Provides a sense of stability and security for toddlers. Young children thrive on predictability and routine, as it helps them feel safe and understand what to expect. Establishing a daily routine during the summer months can help toddlers feel more secure and confident in their environment, reducing anxiety and promoting emotional well-being.
  • Allows for the establishment of healthy habits. Regular mealtimes, nap times, and bedtime routines contribute to maintaining adequate nutrition, ensuring adequate rest, and promoting healthy sleep patterns.
  • Promotes a healthy balance between structured activities and free play. I’m all about those toddler sensory activities, but I also love the benefits of independent free play (in fact, I’d say my toddlers spend most of the day doing free play). Unstructured playtime allows toddlers to exercise their imagination, independence, and social skills.
Boy with microscope - Lovevery - summer routine

Microscope is part of The Connector Playkit from Lovevery

How to Craft a Summer Schedule for Toddlers

Crafting a toddler summer schedule requires careful consideration of their needs, interests, and age-appropriate activities. Here are some steps to help you create an effective and engaging summer schedule for your toddler:

  1. Assess your toddler’s needs: Consider your toddler’s age, sleep patterns, meal times, and general routine. I will share what has been working well for our family, but all kids are different and your schedule should be a flexible routine that meets your toddler’s needs.
  2. Set consistent wake-up and bedtime routines: Establishing a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for toddlers’ overall well-being. We have set wake up, nap times, and bed times during our normal schedules and although we might adjust them a little in the summer time it is still important to stick to consistent sleep times.
  3. Plan meal and snack times: Toddlers thrive on routine when it comes to meals. Schedule regular breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack times to promote healthy eating habits and regulate their digestive systems. We generally do a schedule with 3 meals and 2 snacks, I find this helps my toddlers to not snack all day long!
  4. Allocate time for outdoor activities: Summer is the height of outdoor time for us (and for most of the country as well!). Make sure to schedule lots of outdoor play time.
  5. Allow for independent play: independent free play should be the majority of your toddler’s day! Independent playtime allows them to develop problem-solving skills, self-regulation, and independence. Lovevery Playkits are one of our favorite independent play activities (save 10% when you preorder multiple kits)
  6. Incorporate structured learning activities: We lean towards unschooling, so structured actives are not a MUST for a summer schedule, but it can help break up independent and free play to have some time for more structured activities.
  7. Include quiet time: Toddlers also need periods of rest and relaxation to keep from getting overstimulated. Plan quiet activities such as reading a book together, listening to calming music, or engaging in quiet play.
  8. Be flexible: While having a schedule is beneficial, it’s important to be flexible and adapt to your toddler’s changing needs. Some days may require adjustments or spontaneous activities. Allow for some unstructured time to go with the flow and let your toddler explore their own interests.

Use these steps to create a fun, but flexible toddler summer routine! Below I will share our summer toddler schedule that has been working well for our family. Remember that all families and toddlers are different, so use this as a guide and not a strict schedule that you must follow to a tee.

Easy Summer Toddler Schedule

Here is the schedule that we have been using with my 1, 3, and 5 year old. This year my one year old is the only one who naps and my 3 and 5 year old do quiet time.

  • 7:30 am – Wake up, one tv show or independent play
  • 8:30 am – Breakfast, get ready for the day then chores
  • 10:30 am – Snack, go outside, play date or run errands
  • 12:30 pm – Lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Quiet time or nap
  • 3:30 pm – Snack, structured activity
  • 4:30 pm – Independent play or go outside
  • 6:30 pm – Dinner, bath, bedtime routine
  • 7:30 pm – Bedtime

toddler summer routine graphic

Quiet Time Ideas for Toddlers

There are many different ways to go about quiet time with your toddler. Quiet time or rest time can help reduce overstimulate and gives your toddler an opportunity to rest and recharge. It’s also a form of independent play and can help your toddler with emotional regulation, concentration, and focus. Here are some toddler quiet time ideas:

  • Reading time: put your toddler in their room with various books or our favorite electronic reader. Use an okay-to-wake clock or visual timer to signal when room time can be over.
  • Quiet sensory play: set your toddler up with some quiet sensory activities like play doh or kinetic sand (more sensory activities here).
  • Movie or screen time: if you let your toddler have screen time, quiet time is a good time for scheduled screen time (we have and love the Amazon Kids fire for quiet time and set the timer to 90 minutes).
  • Play an audio book: play an audio book and let your toddler work on puzzles or other independent play activities.
  • Stickers or coloring: another great quiet time activity that is also a favorite for independent play. Play music or an auto book white your toddler plays.

Summer Bedtime Routine for Toddlers

Having a solid bedtime routine for any time of the year is extremely important for toddlers and young children. Toddlers like to push boundaries and if you don’t have a set bedtime and bedtime routine, they will likely stall and push back and push bedtime later and later (think about how thirsty your toddler magically gets right at bedtime).

Summer time is an especially important time to establish a bedtime routine for your toddler. All of the outdoor play will likely make your toddler exhausted by the end of the day, yet because it’s light out later they may try to stall and have a harder time falling asleep. Here are some tips for a summer bedtime routine for toddlers:

  • Start with a bath. We give our kids a bath just about every single night. It signals that it’s almost time for bed and they definitely need it with all the outdoor play!
  • Books and bonding. After the bath we normally cuddle and read books. My older two also do “learning time” where they get to choose one short 5-minute video on sometime random to learn about (they really think of the silliest things and it’s so much fun to learn about things like why bugs poop, how to make tennis balls, and how snakes move).
  • Use an okay-to-wake clock. There are so many great gadgets these days that can help with parenting! We have a hatch clock and turn on a low red light and white noise when it’s time for bed. My toddlers also know that they can’t get out of bed in the morning until their clock turns green and sound machine turns off.
  • Add extra blackout curtains. One of my favorite mom hacks! We live in the far northern US and it’s light until almost 10pm during the summer. We use these blackout curtains during the summer months to help our kids go to bed earlier and sleep a little later.
  • Set boundaries and be firm. Toddlers will be toddlers and will try to push the boundaries. We have a boundary that we will go back in my boys’ room once to see what they need and after that they can’t call for us or come out of their room. They have a consequence if they do and we stick to it!

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