I've found that so much of being a parent is just trial and error. When I find something that works I tend to hold onto it for dear life. Such is the case with E's schedule. It's one that has gradually evolved over the past 15 months, and it absolutely works for us. I am very protective of it because it allows me to be a work-at-home mom without any help with childcare. Sometimes it's a bummer because we miss out on fun opportunities because they don't fit into our schedule well, but the benefit is that I have a happy, healthy toddler who is generally in a good mood because he can predict his day and know what's coming next.
I will say that the day E started transitioning to one nap was the day the heavens opened up and the angels sang. I love not having to make sure we're home for a morning nap, and it also means he takes a longer afternoon nap. For E this transition started around 10.5 months, and we had a solid one-nap schedule in place before his first birthday. But of course every baby is different and following your baby's lead is the best course of action.
Here's how our weekdays generally unfold.
I hear E on the monitor around 7:30. I'm not a morning person and prefer to sleep in, so I don't set an alarm these days unless I need to be up and taking a shower before E wakes up. I've discovered recently that E (like his parents) is a bit of a snoozer. Even if he's awake, he doesn't want me to get him up right away. He'll play with his blanket, fuss a bit, and then lay down and sleep for another 10 minutes. So I usually turn down the volume on the monitor and snooze a bit myself, or scroll through Facebook or Instagram while laying in bed (I know this is a super bad habit).
Once we're up, it's a quick diaper change and then into the kitchen for breakfast. Lately E's been eating a banana, mini frozen waffles and (diluted) apple juice. Sometimes we add yogurt if he's really hungry. I get my coffee going and start my breakfast while he's eating. Half the time he's finished eating before I even sit down, so I'll get him cleaned up and put him in the living room to play. I quickly check e-mail, social media and Feedly while eating and caffeinating.
After I finish eating it's probably around 8:30. Most days my plan is to get us to a Stroller Strides or Stroller Barre class. If we've talked in person at all over the last 10 months you've probably heard me rave about Stroller Strides. It's a big part of this season of my life. While we definitely don't make it to class 5 days a week, especially lately, but it's usually the goal.
If we're headed to the park to work out, I get dressed, pack snacks and drinks, then change E and get him dressed. I try to be heading out the door a little after 9.
I get a great workout in and have a chance to chat with my mama friends; E gets to hang out in his stroller, have his morning snack, and play with his toddler friends after class. Everyone wins.
By the time we get home from the park it's usually around 11. I change E, then I grab a quick shower. Our master bathroom is a decent size, so I keep a small area rug and a basket of toys in there for him to play with so I can shower in peace. It generally works pretty well.
After I get dressed, E's probably up for playing with his toys in the living room. He likes to listen to music, so I'll put on the CD from his Music Together class or turn on the Sesame Street station on iTunes through the Apple TV. I take this opportunity to tidy the kitchen, maybe start some laundry, and prep lunch.
We have lunch at 12. I never plan lunch the way I plan dinner so I tend to grab quick things for E, liked sliced turkey and cheese, and leftovers for me.
After lunch E gets another diaper change and goes down for his nap. Our nap time routine is pretty simple: we put on his sleepsack, I make sure he has his blankets and pacis, and turn on his sound machine. He might cry for a minute after I close the door but after that he's out.
ah, nap time. About a month or so I started making myself a cup of coffee after I got E down. It helps me transition into productivity mode. I also take a few minutes to finish getting dressed, doing something with my hair, and putting on makeup. While I desperately wish I was someone who looked great with air-dried hair and a bare face, this is not my reality. Taking 10-15 minutes to straighten my hair and do my face helps me feel put together and the rest of the day goes more smoothly as a result.
How I spend the rest of nap time varies. Sometimes I'll work on blog content (like this post), since I have the added bonus of natural light if I need to take photos. Sometimes I'll really be craving time to recharge and will read a book or knit while watching something on Netflix (lately I've been working my way through Parenthood- such a good show). Sometimes I'll suck it up and deal with all those annoying life things that need to get done, like paying bills and scheduling appointments.
The duration of nap varies, but E is usually up between 2 and 3, with 2:30 being the most common.
Once E is up, there's a diaper change possibly followed by some play time in his room. Then we head into the kitchen in search of afternoon snack. Graham crackers with peanut butter and a glass of milk have been in heavy rotation.
I try to keep things unscheduled in the afternoon so that I don't have to wake E up from his nap to get anywhere on time. If he needs to take a 3.5 hour nap then I'd like for that to happen for him (and me). So this is the time of day I do things like go to the grocery store or run to Target. Sometimes we do go out just for the heck of it, especially if we didn't leave the house in the morning. I love poking around at stores like Home Goods and TJ Maxx, and E likes being out and about.
I've learned that if I'm making anything that takes more than about 10 minutes of hands-on time for dinner, I need to start it now. We do have easy meals (like pasta and sauce, or even BLTs or subs and fruit salad) quite often because, well, I don't really enjoy cooking.
While I'm doing that, E will play in the living room or in the kitchen where I am. If I've planned a tot school activity for him, this is the time of day that I usually bring that out. There's usually some laundry moving (which I usually ask for E's help with) in here, and possibly a walk around the corner to check the mail, too.
E has dinner around 5:30. Sometimes he'll want to eat a bit earlier if he's been up from his nap for awhile. Depending on what day of the week it is, I will either eat dinner with E or wait until my husband gets home from work to eat with him (or, eat dinner by myself in between E going to bed and my husband coming home).
After dinner there's more play time for E. Sometimes daddy is home by this time and that's the best! Around 6:30 it's bath time, followed by a nighttime diaper, pajamas, brushing teeth, and books.
E's bedtime is 7, and it's usually met without too much fuss.
Most nights after E has gone to bed I head into my office to work. I do try to get out one evening during the week to attend a knitting meet up, and some evenings I completely veg out and watch several episodes of Friends (I'll usually fold laundry while watching TV to make it productive). After bedtime is really the only time of day when I have a solid chunk of (probably) uninterrupted work time, so I try to use it to my advantage.
I leave cleaning the kitchen up until after I've finished working. It's a lot easier to load the dishwasher when you're tired than it is to write a coherent sentence.
I aim to be in bed and winding down by 10:30 or 11 at the latest. I journal, read a book or magazine, and then it's lights out by 12.
That's our routine in a nutshell. Weekends are completely different with daddy around to give mama a break, and we frequently squeeze in visits with the grandparents and extended family in the area.