How to Have a Great Day with Your Child

LauraBabies, Early Elementary Education, Family Fun, Healthy Living, Motherhood, New Homeschooler, Preschool

Days at home with kids can drag on. Whether you have a newborn, a toddler, or a handful of kids, you probably know that feeling of not knowing what to do with yourself. I’ve spent many days at home feeling lonely, isolated, overwhelmed, distracted, and resentful. Of course that makes my kids feel restless and discontent. They either bounce off the walls or roll listlessly around on the floor. (Please tell me I’m not alone in this!)

What to do?

My best days at home with my kids are those that have some structure.

I’m not talking about a day that is packed with Pinterest-worthy activities. I’m just talking about a day that is structured with some life-giving activities that help you to feel like you are being faithful and productive, attending to your family’s human needs for relationship, work, and rest.

My best days aren’t run by the clock, but they have a sense of predictable, intentional movement

You’re about to see sample schedules that include time frames. Keep in mind that life-at-home-with-a-child can’t be scheduled down to the minute. I use time frames as a general guideline for the rhythm of our day. That way, when unpredictable things happens (and they do) or we want to savor a good moment (and we do), we aren’t beholden to the clock.

Here’s what works for me during the various stages of a child’s life from baby-days to the teen years. Feel free to scroll down to the section that applies to you.

Planning a day at home with a baby

Plan your day with Baby in three-hour blocks. What will happen during each of those blocks? Be flexible. Keep your expectations low. During this season of life, your focus is on maintaining your health and nurturing your baby. The specific time frames will shift often as Baby’s feeding and nap time change.

A good day for me at home with a baby might look like:

  • From 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. Breakfast, clean-up, swing and sing (basinet by window)
  • Baby’s first nap (10 a.m. – 11 a.m.) I exercise and shower
  • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Lunch, clean-up, take baby outside for a walk, visit with a friend.
  • Baby’s second nap (2 p.m. – 4 p.m.) I rest first. Then, with any remaining time, I tackle one item of housework.
  • 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Dinner, clean-up, tummy time on play mat
  • Baby’s bedtime 7 p.m.
  • 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Connect with husband, tackle personal work, reach out to a friend, etc.
  • 10 p.m. Sleep as long as you possibly can…

Planning a day at home with a toddler or preschooler

It helps me to divide the day with toddlers and preschoolers into blocks around their quiet time and nap time. Children thrive when they have some sense of order and schedule. Just a small amount of planning ahead can help to create peace in your home! Focus on feeding your child wholesome food, getting outdoors, laughing together, reading together, and sleeping. If you provide those basic elements in a day, you are winning!

A good day for me at home with a toddler or preschooler might look like:

  • 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. Morning Time (Breakfast, clean up, get dressed, etc.)
  • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Activity Time
    For the first hour, I might turn on some music while my child plays with something hands-on like DUPLOS, play-doh, etc.
    For the second hour, I might aim to get us outdoors. If not possible, I’d try an active indoor game like hide and seek, Hullabaloo, treasure hunt.
    This is also a great time to get together with friends, go on an outing, or run errands.
  • 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch Time (lunch, clean-up, etc.)
  • 1 p.m. – 1: 30 p.m. Read-aloud time (I’d pull four to five picture books off the shelf to read together on the couch.)
  • 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Nap Time (I’d rest, too, or pursue something restorative)
  • 3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Snack and music (My nappers usually need time to come around after a nap. They tend to be happiest after some water and a simple snack.)
  • 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Free play (I tend to rotate toys, so I might put out a selection of toys that might capture their attention while I try to get some work done.)
  • 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Dinner Prep/ Dinner (Most moms agree that this is one of the hardest times of day! I’m no expert, but I think it’s perfectly fine to turn on a high quality show during this time so I can get dinner ready without my child clinging to my leg and whining.)
  • 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Prepare for Bed (baths, clean-up, read aloud)
  • 7:00 p.m. Bedtime
  • 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Connect with husband, tackle personal work, reach out to a friend, etc.
  • 10 p.m. Sleep as long as you possibly can…

Planning a day at home with elementary-school kids

At this point, your child might want to weigh in on what the day will look like. Talk together about the type of day that makes you both feel good. Once you decide on the day’s activities, move forward with confidence. I’ve learned that it’s much more helpful for me to say, “It’s time to play outside!” Rather than “Do you want to play outside now?” At this age, my kids still depend on me to provide the structure for a day.

A good day at home with elementary-school kids might look like:

  • 7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Breakfast, clean-up
  • 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Morning time together (devotions, prayer, read-aloud)
  • 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Interest-led play
  • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Activity time (Outdoors, if possible. Friends, if possible. Sometimes errands. Otherwise, I might help them choose one thing to do for the first hour and another thing to do for the second hour. Maybe trains and then dress-up? Maybe playing office and then Calico Critters?)
  • 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch, clean-up
  • 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Outdoor Play
  • 2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Read-aloud
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Quiet Time (Reading, audio books, nap)
  • 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Snack
  • 4:00 – 4:30 p.m. Skill Time (practice music lesson, Art for Kids Hub, homework)
  • 4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Building Time (LEGOs, magnets, etc.) While Listening to something like Adventures in Odyssey
  • 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Dinner Prep (If you allow screen time, this is a GREAT time to use it so that you can prepare dinner in peace and help your child make it to dinner time without a meltdown.)
  • 6:00 p.m. Dinner/ Clean-up
  • 7:00 p.m. Bath, Read in bed, Bedtime prayer
  • 8:00 p.m. Bedtime
  • 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. Connect with husband, tackle personal work, reach out to a friend, etc.
  • 10 p.m. Sleep

Planning a day at home with teens

Give your teen the vision for a good day. Depending on your teen’s personality, you may have to be more or less present. Cheer them on! Make sure that you are creating space in your own day to sit down and connect over lunch, enjoy an activity together, etc.

Help your teen to incorporate these important aspects into their day in 30 – 60 minute increments. (Just a thought: It helps my teen to jot down her daily plan on an index card so that she doesn’t get swept up in screen time or distractions that she doesn’t want to steal her day.)

  • spending time with God in His Word
  • eating regular healthy meals
  • exercising
  • personal hygiene (showering, etc.)
  • connecting with friends and family
  • doing something to bless the family
  • developing a skill or gift
  • reading
  • serving others
  • enjoying a hobby

What do you want today to look like?

Take some time to think about how you want the upcoming week to go. What attitude do you want to have? How do you want to shape your days with your child? Write it down and ask God for the grace and help to build up your family in this important way.

I’d love to know what you’re thinking, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

You’ve got this, mama!

If you’re new to homeschooling and would like more practical help like this, click here:

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What are your questions about homeschooling?

I’d love to help!

Leave your question in the comment section or email me at [email protected].

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting helpful tips for new homeschoolers and I don’t want you to miss them! I’m not on social media, so email is the best way for me to let you know what’s happening at I cherish your trust and I’ll work hard to respect your time and attention. 🙂