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Evenings are, for most families, time off from school and work. An evening at home with family should be a time of rest, peace, and renewal – a time to recover from the day. Instead, we let the same distraction and over-commitment from our days spill over into our evenings, and the result is a tragic lack of time for rest and enjoyment, and maybe even burn-out. Reclaim some of the peace and calm in your evenings by taking a few proactive steps to streamline your evening routine. Here are some of our favorite tricks to help you do just that:
Weekly Meal Planning
Look at your schedule each Sunday night and write down dinners for the week based on what you have going on each day. On busy days, plan leftovers or freezer meals – save the homemade fresh pizza dough for a quieter day. Make use of leftovers as often as you can, especially for the main dish.
Set a cut-off time for work and social media – and stick to it
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you turn off all devices an hour prior to bedtime. This can be hard for some, so if you can’t imagine losing the whole hour, try cutting off at least 30 minutes before bed, and dim the brightness on your phone’s screen as much as you can. This will help with melatonin production and make it easier for you to fall asleep when you go to bed.
Start earlier than you think you need to
As tempting as it may be to relax on the couch after work instead of getting dinner and bedtime routines going, you’ll regret it when you have to hustle to get everything done. Give yourself the space to breathe easily and relax during your evening routine instead of feeling pressed for time and rushed. Who knows, you may even be able to enjoy some moments more – like story time cuddles – when you don’t have to race through them.
Prep for the next day
Finally, one of our favorite ways to streamline our evenings is to take time before bed to prep for the next day. Restock the diaper bag, pack lunches, prep overnight oats and smoothie bags, and make sure clothes and homework will be easy to find the next morning. Finish off the evening by writing down your schedule or to-do list for the following day. These simple steps of preparation can decrease anxiety and increase relaxation once you’re in bed, since your exhausted brain won’t be scrambling to remember everything that needs to be done.
It’s not easy to be proactive with your evenings when you’re already exhausted from a long day. But we’ve found that taking a few strategic steps can actually make your evenings more restful, which means you’ll be better able to take on tomorrow’s craziness!
How do you streamline your family’s evening routine? Let us know in the comments below!