Over the next few weeks, you’ll see my blog’s focus start to shift. I’m not changing anything so much as *adding* new topics and content! There will be more posts on productivity, college and career, habit forming and routines. These topics have been consistently requested by readers and still fit with my pro-woman, pro-Jesus stance. I think these posts will continue the discussion of how to put theology to action in our daily lives!
It might surprise you to learn that your morning routine actually begins the night before. The key to a great day lies in those first few hours after you wake up, so morning routines are my jam – I love a good jumpstart on productivity! But I find that a good morning routine goes awry if you don’t have a system in place for the previous night. Enter: The evening routine!
Your daily routine will reflect your personal life and priorities, and the evening routine will do the same. No two routines will be identical. Your own structure will even change as you embrace new commitments and life stages. Don’t have an evening routine? Here’s how to create one.
Assess the Stress
What stresses you out in the morning? Is it choosing an outfit? Styling your hair? Making coffee as you’re running out the door? Make a list of the most annoying duties of your morning routine. Circle the ones that cause you the most stress, then think of practical ways to handle those the night before.
In our home, the biggest stressors are undone dishes, unpacked lunches, and – for me – deciding what to do with my curly mop every day. I’ll share what our own routine looks like at the end of this post, so for now let’s talk about yours: once you’ve assessed the stressors and picked which tasks you’ll prep the night before, commit to completing those tasks in the evening for a week. It’s easy to get lazy at night and peace out in front of the computer, but don’t do it! You’ll need a week to see whether you’ve reduced your stress or if you need to pick new tasks to assign to the evening routine.
Many, many articles will tell you the detriments of looking at a phone, tablet, or computer screen before bed. I’m as guilty as the next person, especially since I like to use my phone as an alarm. However, keeping your phone on the nightstand can also sabotage your morning routine if you don’t have high levels of self control. If you’re a social media addict, your first morning move may be to check Facebook – and that’s not an effective way to start the day!
To start the day with clarity, do your best to keep electronics out of your bedroom the night before (especially if you’re married – Josh and I try to keep the phones off or out of the bedroom, don’t use laptops, and don’t keep a TV in our room). Sleep is integral to your health and the blue-lit screen of an iPhone can seriously hamper your sleep patterns. Instead of cruising the interwebs, make a habit of reading, journaling, or listening to music for the last half hour before you go to sleep. If you’re married, use that time to connect with your spouse or read together (we like to do the latter).
Do the Same Three Things
Your evening routine doesn’t need to be elaborate. Simply define three things you want to be sure to do each night, and try to do them in the same order. This will tell your mind that it’s time for bed. My three things are:
- Clean up the kitchen.
- Wash my face.
- Write one page in my journal and/or read a chapter in my latest book.
If nothing else, I do these three things.
Evening Routines for Moms
Evening routines look different for parents than for singles and newlyweds, so it merits a note. I only have one young child, so my routine will obviously differ from the mom with four kids of varied ages! That said, there are three things really streamline the parenting aspect of our evenings.
Share the Workload
The first few months after Addie was born I dreaded dinner time. It felt like the world was falling around my ears, largely because I was trying to do everything on my own. Little clue for married women: if you need help, ASK for it! Don’t assume your husband will notice, not because he’s selfish or clueless, but because he probably thinks you have it all under control. And you probably do have it all under control – you’re just completely stressed out by controlling it!
Josh and I divide the evening tasks. Between dinner, dishes, packing lunches, and caring for the baby, I used to lament my lack of time to even sit down before bed. I asked Josh to split the tasks with me, and it’s worked very well for us.
Maintain the Same Daily Schedule
I have had Adeline on a consistent schedule since she was four weeks old. I use the BabyWise method of scheduling. I used this in addition to sleep training, adjusting the schedule according to her age and development. There are many views on this issue and not everyone enjoys using such a structured method, but I swear by its success. Addie has slept through the night since she was four months old, waking at the same general time (6-7 AM) each day, which allows me to schedule her naps along that trajectory. This is important since I work at home, but would be helpful to any mom who wants to retain her sanity. I will be using it with all my children.
Adeline loves books, but gets overly excited when we read them (particularly the Hungry Caterpillar). That’s why I love books that specifically talk about bedtime. Some of my favorites are Good Night Moon and Night is Coming, but I recently stumbled upon a book that became Adeline’s new favorite: Night Night Farm by Amy Parker (pictured above). Generally I don’t take the time to review baby books, but this one stands out. It has brilliant colors and the sweetest illustrations, and each page has a different baby animal. As someone who loves poetry I like that the content is written in rhyme and that it is presented from a Christian perspective.
**I’m giving away one copy of Night Night, Farm! To be entered, leave a comment on this post saying you’d like to be entered in the giveaway. I will email the winner before August 20th**
Josh gets home from work and the gym around 6 PM, what I affectionately call “the witching hour” because that’s exactly what it is. Adeline is always fussy, I’m trying to make dinner, and since we go to bed together at 9 PM, we don’t have a lot of time to finish one day and prepare for the next. This led to much frustration and more than a few marital “discussions”, which in turn led us to create our current routine:
- 6 PM: Josh comes home and takes the baby; I make dinner.
- 6:30 PM: Eat dinner, either at the table or while watching a show together on Netflix.
- 7:30 PM: Addie is bathed, given her bottle, and put to bed.
- 8:00 PM: We make sure lunches are packed, coffee is prepped in the machine, and clothes are set out for the next day.
- 8:30 PM: We turn on the AC in our room so it starts to cool down (no central air here!), I wash my face and set out my workout clothes, and head to bed to read and talk until 9:30 or so.
- 9:30 PM: Lights out, depending on the night (I record the podcast on Tuesday evenings, so I’m up later those nights).
This routine guarantees we get 7-8 hours of sleep a night (we get up at 5 AM) and helps me get a jump on the following day.
Like your morning routine, the evening routine will need to be tweaked. Don’t be afraid to change it and be flexible with the demands of your life! More on the morning routine soon.
Do you have an evening routine you love? Let me know in the comments!