Toddler Afternoon and Evening Routine

While mornings are simple and regimented at our house, with Bash’s long naps, our afternoon and evenings tend to go from quiet to exhausted quicker than you can blink. And, it keeps one of us (Will, me, or babysitter) home bound for a good chunk of the afternoon. 

Our evening routine is almost always the same, regardless of Will’s schedule. I don’t know about you, but anytime one of us is PIC solo (parent in command—we are a pilot’s family), bedtime, on time, is a must.

Toddler Afternoon Routine

Noon. – Bash goes down for a nap.

Noon – 2/3 p.m. – Bash naps. Usually he naps for at least two hours. If he’s had a full morning, three hours is not unusual. Except for the week we took away his pacifier. That was a VERY BAD WEEK.

3 – 3:15 p.m – Bash wakes up and we start his post nap routine. We hang out on his bed, have a quick cuddle and talk a bit. Then, he gets a fresh diaper.

3:15 – 3:45p.m. – Bash gets his afternoon cup of goat’s milk and a snack at his weaning table. He doesn’t always want the snack, but we do offer it.

3:45 – 4:30 p.m. – This is our dynamic afternoon playtime. Bash gets hyped pretty easily, so we do really active things shortly after his nap so he has time to calm down before bed. We play with toys, go outside, play with his water table, go to the park, or sing and dance.

4:30 – 5:00 p.m. – Dinner prep. So, independent play on a good day or catching a quick Reading Rainbow or Daniel Tiger on a bad day. 

5:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Dinner time! Bash gets hungry early, so we try to have him fed by 5:30. We’ve focused on intuitive eating with Bash. We offer him a variety of food throughout the day, offer him food in different locations (weaning table, dining table, outdoor picnic table), and do our best to not cajole him into eating. Our experience is that he eats when he’s hungry, eats enough to sleep well, and hits all his food groups by the end of the week.

Toddler Evening Routine

5:30-6:00 p.m. – This is when we do quiet activities. We might go on a walk or bike ride, blow bubbles outside, read books, or work on puzzles. We stay away from screens, exciting music, or anything that hypes Bash up.

6:00 – 6:30 p.m. – We offer Bash his last cup of goat’s milk for the day and keep doing we quiet activities. 

6:30-6:55 p.m.- We start our bedtime routine. This looks like brushing teeth, bath, and books.

6:55-7:00 p.m. – Bash goes to bed. We started doing Babywise with him at about six weeks.  We’ve found that unless he’s sick, teething, or in the midst a big developmental leap, this is pretty no fuss (Except for the week we took his pacifer. That was rough.).

Flexibility in Scheduling

So, we try to have flexibility with his awake time and for special events, but we work hard to have Bash down for a nap by 12:30 p.m. and in bed by 7:30 p.m. This rest times are crucial for Bash and us.

As a dual working family, and me working at home, Bash’s naps have helped us survive on less than 10 hours of paid childcare a week. We knew that he’d start school at about eighteen months, so I knew it was not forever.

I want to hear about your afternoon or evening routine! Does your toddler get hyped up easily? 

Any tips for routine changes when Bash starts school?

I’ll take all the tips!

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