1426193_69031835This chapter of One Bite at a Time is the book end to our last one, which focused on the morning routine. Evening routine is something that was somewhat ingrained in me as a child. I was taught to lay out my school and clothes and pack my book bag the night before. That way dressing was easy and I didn’t forget any books. But this also works for me now. I pre-pack diaper bags the night before church, MOPS meetings and homeschool co-op days. But an evening routine is about more than just preparing for the following day by completing tasks, it’s about slowly winding yourself down physically and mentally so that you can get a restful nights sleep. Going to bed too wound up or overstimulated by TV or Facebook doesn’t produce the same quality of sleep. This has been hard for me in the past because I tend to go straight from the couch in front of the TV to the bathroom to bed. My husband and I started reading in bed again last year and it really does make me feel more relaxed before sleep. But that requires that we get to bed early enough. (And that the book I’m reading it’s too stressful or engaging).

List 5 things that will be part of your evening routine. (No more, as tempting as that may be.) Make them simple things. Reorganizing your closet or panting a room don’t count as simple.

My current routine:

Dishes and kitchen clean up.
(My husband shares this task with, me but the important thing is that it gets done, otherwise I feel awful coming down in the morning to a messy kitchen).

Review or make tomorrow’s to-do list.
This usually helps me get things off my mind that I’m afraid I’ll forget and help me mentally prepare for the next day. But I need to set a time limit otherwise I start looking at my weekly and monthly calender and soon I’m anxious and overwhelmed.

Layout my clothes/pack bags.
This helps with my goal to get dressed each day and makes getting out the door the next day easier, if we have places to go or appointments to get to. This means making sure co-op materials and are all assembled in the same place, library books in in a bag by the door and the diaper bag is stocked for whatever length of outing we have coming.

Read a short devotional and then a pleasure book.
I have been enjoying When Motherhood Feels Too Hard because it is short, challenging and inspiring. The pleasure book should ideally be fiction not non-fiction at least for me. But I also have to set a time limit in case the story gets so engaging that I don’t want to put it down.

Talk to my husband.
This item can occur anywhere in the list, but I need to make sure it happens. I am quality time love language (with an element of quality conversation dialect) so I feel isolated and unloved when this doesn’t happen regularly. But sometimes on busy nights, we just don’t get to it. It’s OK if it doesn’t happen every day, but we need to talk and connect most days.

Ideally I should be headed upstairs for bed between 10 and 10:30, though most nights it’s more like 11. One of my goals is to try and be asleep or actively trying to fall asleep by 11 PM on weeknights, ideally not much later on weekends. When I stay up later I always regret it when the 6 AM alarm comes along.

So just as a morning routine helps us get our day started out right, an evening routine helps us finish out the day well and transition slowly into restful sleep.

What items are on your nightly routine list? How do you power down at the end of the night?