A great day begins the night before, ending your day well is key to setting up your next day with success! A solid evening routine consists of both the essentials, the things that just have to get done, and the beneficials, the activities that restore, refresh and prep for some amazing sleep.
Last spring I shared in my Bible study that I regularly wake up at 5am almost every morning — including weekends — and I was immediately asked two questions,
How could you possibly get out of bed that early, you have 3 kids ages 5 and under? How do you do it? What time do you go to sleep? Why do you wake up so early?
I do have young children and we are still in the stage of unpredictable sleep but after nearly burning out earlier this year, rest and sleep is a huge priority for me.
My goal is to be in bed between 9 and 9:30 every night, this happens some nights more easily than others — like right now staying up late to watch the olympics? The bedtime routine has pretty much flown out the window!
Even still, there are a few things I have found that help my days end well which allow me to set my tomorrows up for success. I call them my essentials (the have-to’s) and the beneficials (the should-do’s). Doing a few good things every night, helps me to end my day on a positive note and helps to prioritize sleep and rest.
Ending Your Day Well
These are thing things that just have to get done every night to make sure our home is running smoothly and remains relatively clean and clutter free. I don’t do all of these these things on my own, the whole family chips in and helps!
Prep the Kitchen
After the kitchen is cleaned up from dinner, I always spend a few more minutes prepping the kitchen for the day ahead. This just naturally helps my day run smoother.
Once the dinner dishes are put away and the counter is cleaned, I immediately prep the coffee pot by placing the coffee grounds and water in. It’s just so nice to come into the kitchen in the morning and press start!
I also set out the breakfast dishes, fill our water bottles for the next day and place them in the refrigerator, lay out our vitamins for the day, and do any other prep work to make for a quick and easy breakfast.
If I haven’t already, I make sure that whatever we are eating for dinner the next day is already thawing in the refrigerator.
Spending just a few extra minutes in the kitchen at night saves time in the morning, not to mention helps make the morning rush so much easier!
Prep the Morning Bags
There is nothing more stressful then not being able to find your bag as you are trying to head out the door in the morning, so that’s why I always make sure the items we need to go are ready to go!
A few mornings a week I leave to go workout at the early morning workout class, so I have by the garage door my workout bag which includes my tennis shoes, socks, workout towel and wallet.
The nights before my kids go to school, we make sure they have extra clothes and whatever else they need in their bags ready to go and place them by the garage door.
Along with the kid’s bags, I also make sure my purse or any bags I need (like my laptop and work tote) are packed and ready to go. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure we have everything we need right by the garage door is another super simple way we save time and stress early in the morning.
Plan to Be Simply Dressed
I’m indecisive, which is why simplifying my wardrobe has been hugely essential and beneficial to me! Even still, I find myself with decision fatigue in the morning when I’m trying to pick out my clothing for the day. To eliminate this I simply choose my clothes and lay them out the night before.
I check the weather for the next day and determine the entire outfit (including accessories) and lay them out. Most days I stay home all day with the kids but I still dress for the day I want to have by getting dressed every single day.
To help my kid’s morning run smoother — and to prevent the stress caused to me by my turtles early on — as part of our bedtime routine for the kids, they also pick lay out their outfit for the day too.
Write it Down
Oh my planner, how I love thee!
I call it my second brain for a reason… it houses more than just my appointments and important dates, it’s also where I brain dump and plan for the day. I have tried electronic calendars but nothing beats writing something down with a pen onto paper in my opinion, so a traditional paper planner is what keeps me sane.
I use and love my Emily Ley Simplified Planner (you can read more about how I set up and use it here). Every evening I brain dump by writing out to-list for the day ahead, getting it out of my brain helps to get it off my mind.
I also review the day for any appointments or places we have to be. This helps avoid that sickening feeling of realizing you have 10 minutes to get everyone dressed, loaded up and drive across down for that dentist appointment you forgot about… trust me, it’s not a fun feeling!
Get the Kids in Bed
You might be thinking, “Well this all sounds nice and lovely, but what about the kids? How do they help?” Well, you can bet they do!
Part of their bedtime routine is pick up any of their toys and belongings that are out in the main living spaces and in their rooms. They lay out their clothing, with a little bit of guidance — no shorts mid-winter 😉 — and they help make sure their school bags are packed.
My kids are young, ages 5.5, almost 4, and 1.5, and they all help! It’s just something we have taught them and they know what’s expected of them.
Quick House Sweep Through
Finally, before I put my feet up and begin relaxing for the day — because one the feet are up, it’s all over — I do a very quick house sweep through to make sure everything is picked up and put away.
Anything that is still left out, gets put away. It’s so amazing knowing I can relax at the end of a long day with a house that’s picked up. It’s also a good feeling not waking up to a mess and chaos before the day even begins!
Once the essentials are out of the way, it’s time to unwind from the day and relax with the beneficials, the activities that restore, refresh and prep for some amazing sleep!
I used to hop on my laptop to check my email, finish up a blog post or do some other computer work but before long those few minutes would turn into almost an hour and before I knew it, my entire evening was gone.
Now I don’t even open my laptop at all.
Same with my phone, similar to the kitchen counter hours I keep during the day, my phone gets plugged in to charge somewhere far away from me. This helps me spend the last hour(s) of my day truly unplugged and what a difference it has made to my tired and weary soul!
Have a Drink
No, not that kind of drink 😉 more of the herbal kind.
I never used to be a tea lover (proud coffee gal here!) but slowly I have developed a taste and love for a warm cup of herbal tea.
Usually something relaxing and comforting in the evening is the perfect way to wind down, I’m a fan of calming vanilla and chamomile. Sometimes if I feel a cold or scratchy throat coming on, I’ll sip a little throat coat.
Unwinding with a warm and comforting cup of tea is not only relaxing, it’s also healing to your body.
Night time snacking was a terrible habit I used to be in which didn’t help the postpartum weight loss efforts. Now, thanks to Trim Healthy Mama, I’m much more intentional about those night time munchies.
Since completly transforming the way I eat, I honestly don’t get all that hungry at night any more but occasionally the hunger strikes. Instead of munching away on something sugary or carb-filled that would rewire me, I choose something satisfying like a small handful of nuts with a small square of dark chocolate, or a few crackers with a cheese stick.
If I am feeling extra hungry, I make sure I drink plenty of water which usually just means I’m actually thirsty instead of hungry.
Most of the time I have learned that night time munching just comes on because I’m bored, which is usually a signal that I just need to go to bed instead!
A Little Light Reading
I make time to find pockets of reading throughout the day, but nighttime reading is probably where the bulk of my reading time comes from.
As I have shared a time or two before, my husband is a die-hard baseball fan — KC Royals to be exact! — so every night once the kids are in bed, baseball gets turned on. We sit together on the couch and I read (yes, I have trained myself to read with the TV on in the background) while he watches his beloved Royals play. Intermittently, we talk and cheer together but the merging of our two loves gives me the perfect time to end the day by reading a bit.
I usually keep my light reading for the end of the day too, but I’m careful about not reading too many novels in a row at night. I tend to have a problem of getting so engrossed in them, bedtime flies out the window!
Record the Blessings
If I have had a really rough day with the kids and am really grumpy and worn out from the day, I find my mood instantly changing when I pull out my gratitude journal and record a few blessings.
If I’m in a really foul mood and can’t list anything, then I will go back and re-read some of my previous blessings. This usually instantly changes my heart to realize how everyday blessings are all around me.
Recording two to three gratitudes along with a little time in prayer at the end of the day, really helps to change my perspective, cast off any anxious or negative thinking and fill me with God’s restorative peace that helps soothe me into a restful night of sleep.
Read the Bible
What a better way than to end the day reading God’s Word?
I start my day by filling myself up and I have recently begun ending my day with this discipline as well. Now this is not the time when I complete my Bible study or do an inductive study method, rather this is just spending a few minutes allowing God’s truth to wash over me.
Usually I just re-read the passage from the She Reads Truth study I read and studied earlier in the day. Some days I might read a Psalm or two, or spend a few minutes in one of the other Wisdom Books. A few nights a week, my husband and I will read a passage together before prayer and bed.
It really is such a relaxing way to end the day!
What do you find are the essential and beneficial to ending your day well?
Need some help and a little inspiration to create an evening routine that works for you, allowing you to be intentional with your time and get the rest both you and your family so desperatly need?
Crystal from Money Saving Mom has a fantastic tool to walk you through the step-by-step journey of thinking through the why and creating a routine that will end your day well.
Make Over Your Evenings is a 14-day course that includes short videos and a printable workbook with daily assignments will help you plan and make small changes to revolutionize your evenings to make your entire day even better. It’s a companion to her super popular course, Make Over Your Mornings.
I have worked through both courses and both have helped me make little tweeks to my mornings and evenings allowing me to not only be more productive with the day hours but also to be intentional with my time spent with my family, better balancing my work hours and to just have more energy all around.
I highly recommend both courses but if you are feeling overwhelmed at where to begin, I’d say start with Make Over Your Evenings because I strongly believe that a great day begins the night before!
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