Having an evening routine as a working mom can be a difference between hectic and calm morning. I don’t know about you, but in my household, evenings tend to get a little crazy and chaotic. We get back from work, school, and daycare and there are a lot of things to handle in the next few hours, like dinner, bath time, and homework. So adding some structure to my evenings make all difference. And it will totally pay off when you wake up in the morning prepared for the day.
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Why Do I Need an Evening Routine?
Having an evening routine will help you stay organized and focused. And it will also help you be more productive the next day.
When you think about it, mornings come with a time constraint. You always have some sort of cutoff time like leaving for work or school. This is why it’s so critical to get some things ready the night before. Because not only do we spend time completing a task, but we also tend to waste a lot of time making decisions about that task.
Before you get dressed, you have to decide what you want to wear. And before you get your lunch ready, you have to decide what type of food you actually want. Those little decisions can be very stressful first thing in the morning, so do yourself a favor and make them in the evenings.
How to Create Your Evening Routine
Evening routine will differ from one house to another. It will depend on the age of your kids, whether or not they have any evening activities, work schedules, and your lifestyle and personality.
However, when you are just starting to create your evening routine, there are three key things that you should keep in mind.
Your pain points
The first thing you want to think about is your pain points – both in the evenings and mornings. What causes you the most stress each evening? Is it dinner time, homework time, or perhaps getting kids to beds on time. Also think about your mornings. Are you straggling with getting kids to school on time? Or maybe your biggest challenge is with kids deciding what to wear to school?
The biggest pain points need to be addressed first! The whole idea is to make your evenings and morning run smoother. So tackle those biggest challenges first by making some change in your evening routine.
Don’t schedule every minute
While you want to make your evenings more structured you don’t what to make them so rigid that you keep looking at the clock the whole time to make sure you are on schedule. That is not the idea here.
You simply want to create a list of things that you want to accomplish each evening before you go so sleep. If you can complete them in the same order each evening, that awesome. Because that will make you much more efficient. But if you cannot follow the same order of tasks each night, that is fine too. Just keep checking items off your list as you go.
But you don’t want to create a list that assigns specific time for each specific tasks. That will quickly become overwhelming.
It’s important to realize that not each of your evenings will be the same. Some evenings of the week you might be very busy with after school activities for your kids while others will be less intense.
Depending on your schedules each night, your evening routine will have to be adjusted accordingly. You cannot expect that things will go the same way each night. On the very busy nights, consider speeding up your evening routine or taking some things out. Maybe while your typical evening routine involves cooking dinner, the very busy one will include take out. Or maybe you change kids’ bath time for quick showers.
But make sure you allow yourself some flexibility. It will make adjustment such easier without throwing your entire night routine out the window.
Evening Routine Checklist
There are some key things that each evening routine should have. How much time you spend on each activity is totally up to you. And it might differ from evening to evening. Download a FREE Evening Routine Checklist and add your customized list of tasks.
The key component of every evening routine is cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Ask family members to put their dirty dishes into the sink when they are done eating. Put leftovers away, load the dishwasher, hand wash dishes that cannot go into the dishwasher, clean up the stove top, and wipe down the counters. Those are the five main tasks for the kitchen. You can also add spot cleaning the floors, and emptying the dishwasher when the cycle is done.
Personally, I like to start with the kitchen because this task is the most time-consuming task of my evening so I like to get it out of the way. And having a clean kitchen really makes a difference on how the rest of the evening is running.
Clean kitchen is something that you will really appreciate when you wake up in the morning.
Homework and backpack check
If you have school age children, homework will be part of your evening routine. You will have to decide when is the best time for homework depending on your schedules and kids’ personalities. Some will prefer to do it right after school while others will need a break.
This is the time to check their backpack for any school forms or other paperwork, and make sure their homework is back in their backpacks when they are done.
Bed time routine for kids
Bedtime routine for kids usually means some combination of baths, showers, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and reading books. I find it really helpful to have the same bedtime routine each night and for kids to go to sleep at the same time each night.
Checking schedule for the next day
The next item on your evening routine checklist is looking at your schedule to see what is going on on the following day.
- Do I have any appointments?
- Are there any errands that I need to run during lunch time?
- Is there anything happening at my son’s school or my daughter’s daycare?
And if the answer is ‘yes’ to any of those questions, make sure that you prepare anything that you might need. For example, if you have a medical appointment with my kids, make sure that you put any paperwork you might need in your purse right away.
That way you won’t have to run around in the morning looking for things. Because we all know that finding things is so much harder in the early hours of the day – especially when you are trying to get out of the door 😉
Check the meal plan
You also want to check your menu for the next day. If you are like me, and plan your meals for the week ahead of time, the evenings are simply for checking if anything needs to be done to prepare for the next dinner.
These would be things like taking out meat from the freezer to defrost or setting up your slow cooker on the kitchen countertop in the evenings as a reminder to set it up in the morning. It has happen in the past that I realized it’s my slow-cooker meal about an hour before dinner time.
You also want to make sure that any lunch boxes and bottles are washed and ready to go for the next day. You might also like to prepare the lunches in the evenings.
I cannot stress enough how much this step of your evening routine will make your life easier! In our house, we pick out our clothes the night before. Make sure to involve your kids to eliminate any morning fights that this is not what they wanted to wear.
If workouts are part of your day, be sure to prepare that outfit as well.
It will make such a difference! When I used to pick our clothes in the mornings, it was just such a stressful experience. I could not decide what I wanted to wear and kids kept arguing with me about their outfits as well.
Now, it’s a very peaceful process 🙂
Your evening routine also needs to have some time for relaxation from a long day. As busy working moms, we often forget that self-care is not something that is reserved for weekends only. We need some time to ourselves every day.
Do something for yourself each night before you go to sleep. It might be reading a book, taking a bath, or watching a show.
It does not have to be very long. Even 10 to 15 minutes will make you feel much better.