Previously I shared my morning routine for success, but I believe starting out your morning right also begins the evening before. In the evening I have the same struggle as the morning, spending time on important tasks instead of my impulse at the moment. In the evening, my impulse is either watching tv, checking out social media or surfing the web. Time passes quickly and I realize it is one to two hours past my bedtime. I know sleep is the best tool in my arsenal for productivity, yet I struggle with transitioning from juggling the family and my business into quiet rest at night. So here is my routine for the evenings to keep me on schedule along with tips to rock maybe you’ve never heard. At the end I have a great resource and opportunity to help you create an evening routine. If you don’t have a solid evening routine, now is the perfect time to start!
Why have an evening routine?
My preference is to relax in the evening but I also need to prepare for the next day. In the morning, I want to hit it hard with my exercise, personal development and quiet time. Also my morning is easier when I have eaten breakfast, showered, and dressed before the kids awake. That is a recipe to start a great morning. Our evenings and our mornings are so inter-related when it comes to routines and systems.
First to decide when to start our evening routine I count backwards from my preferred bedtime. The kids’ bedtime is pretty steady time slot my husband and I try to protect. Over the last two years I have trained our kids to follow a routine and get ready for bed at night. Otherwise, it is similar to herding cats in the Wild Wild West, “Do this. Do that. Did you brush your teeth? Did you use the bathroom?” And I’m repeating the same phrases over and over again. Acting as their manager does not empower the kids to develop self responsibility. While it is still a little crazy, now the kids usually follow their routine and only need small reminders.
Our bedtime routine chart for the last two years is from Jen at iHeart Organizing. I place the chart into a sheet protector so their cute and messy hands don’t ruin the paper. While the kids are going through their routine I am packing lunch and snacks for the next morning followed by checking their backpacks. Especially in the wintertime packing their winter gear the night before is a must!
A HUGE time saver in the morning is laying out their clothes at night. We use a shelf with hooks to hang their shirt and pants with the underwear and socks on the shelf. After the kids wake up and use the bathroom in the morning, they automatically put on their clothes. You can see why the evening routine is also about the morning for us. This process took time and training with the kids, but I am so glad I made the effort.
After completing the bedtime routine we have our evening reading. The book that we currently enjoy is the Jesus Storybook Bible. This is a an excellent book for any parent who wishes to read the Bible to their kids but are concerned how to read at their level of understanding. Then it is off to bed for tucking under the covers.
Here is a quick recap for the kids:
- Kids bedtime routine
- Packing lunch and snacks for the next morning
- Checking the backpacks, papers and school folders are assembled
- Layout the kids clothes
- Evening reading & to bed!
If time and energy permits I will spend 10 minutes cleaning the kitchen. Coming into a clean kitchen starts my morning with content and peace instead of messy dishes and work. I think I hear angels sing some mornings as I walk in! There are nights it is not physically possible to have a clean kitchen and that is okay. Being organized is not perfection but progress in grace.
Now this is the moment my evening routine is most at risk. Maybe you feel the same. Balancing life with the family and my business can lead to unrelieved stress at the end of the day. It may take a lengthy amount of time for me to fully relax. In the past I “relaxed” by staying up late to watch TV, surfing on the web or scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. Soon it was 10:30 or 11:00 pm. Honestly I am still tempted. I was angry staying up late which means I will only have six hours or less of sleep. Repeat this process several days in a row and this is a good recipe for a grumpy Christina.
Tip: iPhone users can change their settings to be in “night shift” automatically in the evening which changes the brightness of the phone to a yellowish tint. The normal brightness of smartphones and tablets stimulate your brain to stay alert and awake.
Next I check my calendar for the next day and pickout my clothes. After I finish my nighttime bathroom routine I have reading time from my current book of choice. Reading helps my brain to begin relaxing and shift from active mode into relaxing mode.
Tip: Change your bathroom light switch to a dimmer switch. This will allow you to use a dim light during your evening routine and also makes a great night light as well. (Thanks to my husband for this one.)
Then my husband and I have time for ourselves by reading a chapter from the Bible and pray. I set my multiple alarms using my native iphone clock and also the Sleep Genius app.
Here is a quick recap:
- Check calendar
- Layout clothes
- Night time bathroom routine
- Book Reading
- Sweetheart time
- Set alarms
- Lights out!
Tip: One new tool in my aresenal is If This, Then That which is a website and app that creates “recipes” to connect apps and programs. My greatest problem is shifting from getting ready for the next day to actually getting into bed and reading. I receive a text message at a specified time of the day as a reminder to get ready for bed. You could use this IFTTT to remind you to take a break or walk around for five minutes as well. I created my own recipe using “If it is this time send a SMS (text) to my phone”.
It may seem, “I have so much to do, Christina. You don’t understand. I have too much to get done.” Yes, I do understand. I have three kids six and under. They are like little tornadoes. Seriously, I turn around and I am thinking, “How could you possibly have made that destruction in such a short time? I don’t understand it.” The reality is that they will get a cranky and angry mama in the morning if I don’t get my sleep. If 1 more hour of sleep means I’m a happy person, I’m more productive, and I get more done then that hour is better used than me sleepily trying to get stuff done.
I hope this is helpful for you to create or improve your evening routine. Look at your evening routine and decide how you can deescalate from an active day to sleep. You may think, “My routine is when I get exhausted, I finally crash.” I suggest start simple. Figure out what time you need to go to sleep. What time is that for you? Then plan what will be the key or trigger for your bedtime.
Now here is the great opportunity I mentioned earlier. Crystal Paine, from Money Saving Mom, is offering a Makeover Your Evening Course. I discovered her course after I planned on sharing with you my evening routine. If you are serious about creating an evening routine, I would check out her course here. Because I am a firm believer we should never stop learning, I also signed up for the course. Hope you can join me!
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