The Evening Routine
Just like all the other parts of the day, I think it is so important to be incredibly intentional with the ends of our days because at least for me, there is a greater temptation to use my evenings just to veg. This almost always leaves me falling asleep wishing I used time wiser. After a long, full day it is easy to say I deserve to just lie here and watch Hulu and stuff my face with cookies. While this is the more tempting and easier choice especially when you are exhausted, I do believe that our evenings have the potential to hold so much more for us. I think there is a way that evenings can be both restful and fulfilling. For me, as much as I choose it, watching shows on Hulu does not feed my soul in the same way that scrapbooking or spending quality time with husband does. Some nights, I fail at having a good evening routine. Actually a lot of evenings I do, but I am learning that if I try to incorporate these 5 things, I end the day right.
1. Leave the Dishes
The last thing I want to do after we eat dinner, is spend more time in the kitchen. So I don’t! Lance is always really great about clearing the dishes, so after Hudson and the high chair are cleaned up, I leave the kitchen. There are always pots in the sink and counters that could use a wipe down, but I intentionally choose to not touch it. I am sure some of you are thinking how you would never do that. How you have to have your kitchen spotless before you go to sleep at night. To each their own, but for me personally, it steals joy when I end my night in the kitchen. Especially staying at home, I feel like I am constantly in the kitchen. As much as I can control it, I choose to leave it as soon as dinner is done. I only return to it to find something sweet for dessert! The amazing thing with this is that the world keeps spinning and no one seems to care that the pans do not get cleaned until the morning. Lance loves me just the same. Hudson loves me just the same. It really is crazy how we put these unneeded expectations on ourselves. Who says the kitchen must be spotless before you sleep? Why is that a rule? It shouldn’t be and if it is, I break it. Will Hudson remember that we had pans in the sink or will he remember the walks we took together as a family after dinner? Will he remember the crumbs on the countertop or will he remember the laughter and the play that happened after dinner? I think it is all the latter. Like I always say, the dishes can wait.
2. Wear Real Pajamas
By 8pm I am in my pjs. This is one of those very small details but I think putting on a pair of comfy pjs help switch my mindset into resting mode. With the colder weather, I have been wearing a pair of flannel pjs every night. These flannel pajamas are like my nighttime uniform. It is my signal to stop, to rest, and to be satisfied with the work I have accomplished. So after we do Hudson’s evening routine (I’ll write more on this in future posts), I tiptoe out of the room, put on my flannel pajamas, and get right into evening mode. I know some moms might use this time right after the little ones go to sleep to do some cleaning up around the house, but I really try to do all this tidying up before Hudson is asleep. Similarly to my kitchen philosophy, if there are a couple pillows not fully fluffed or a few random toys out, I don’t fret about it. I know those things will get done the next day during my cleaning cycle. Similarly to the idea of sabbath, I think it is essential to really carve these evening hours out as sacred time for rest and rejuvenation. For me, this time of rest starts with the comfort and warmth of flannel and finally getting out of those yoga pants I have been wearing all day.
3. Invest in Yourself
This is going to look different based on your own interests, but for me this typically looks like having a small activity to myself that I enjoy. This is usually something I do right after Hudson has fallen asleep. Sometimes I will go in the playroom and continue to work on Hudson’s first year scrapbook. I typically do not spend a ton of time on this, I might do this for 30 minutes, maybe an hour, but I usually do not produce more than a page of work, but this set apart time of sorting through photos, cutting out shapes, and designing layouts gives me joy. It makes me feel calm and at peace. And the thing is, I am not even very good at scrapbooking. The shapes I cut out are not always the most even, even though I use a stencil. I have not invested in a lot of extra, fun scrapbooking things, so the pages really just have the images and my own handwriting. The point here is not perfection. It is the act of cutting, pasting, creating that brings the joy. To me, I love the pages I create, not because they are perfect, but because of all the smiles I see of our family on those pages. Scrapbooking allows me to take a step back and be reflective of all the amazing memories we are already making. It is proof that while we definitely do not have it all together, we are making memories that will forever be captured in the pages of my less than perfect scrapbook. This is just one option. And the reality is that a lot of nights, I don’t always feel like doing this. It sometimes feels like too much on especially exhausting days. So, I choose something else. My other go-to, typically has been picking up a book. Alongside activities, it is also important to practice self-care during this evening time. I don’t even know what to write here because honestly I don’t do a good job in this area, but I really want to. For the past few months, I keep thinking how I should really have an evening skin care routine. It just seems like one of those things you do when you’re really grown-up. I still do not have one, but I am determined to develop one soon! Even if it something as simple as putting night cream on every evening, I think this small act of caring for your skin is the perfect way to invest in yourself. Note to self: buy night cream. Right after writing this I went down a rabbit hole of watching nighttime skin care routines on Youtube. And let me tell you, I had no idea you could use that many products just to get “unready.” I use maybe one or two products just to get ready, or let’s be real, sometimes zero. Maybe one day, I will have a routine like this, but if you are with me and get overwhelmed in this area, start small, purchase one thing of night cream. Then, maybe one day I’ll be cool enough to have a whole routine where I roll my face with that roller thing and put on 8 different products.
4. Spend Quality Time With…
Again this will vary, but for me it is with my husband. If you’re single, maybe this will look like calling your best friend you haven’t talked to in a while or video chatting with your mom. However it looks, I think it is important to end the day with connection with someone. Lance and I like watching shows together in the evening. This is our thing, but I typically fall asleep, so we are currently in the stages of figuring out better ways to spend quality time together, without me falling asleep. We both are training for races so we are hoping to better use the time right before bed to stretch, roll out, and talk together. We also almost always brush our teeth and get ready for bed together. As much as we can, we try to not be on screens during this time. I used to be terrible at this, but I have noticed I am so much more present with Lance when I plug my phone in to its charger early and don’t touch it. Sometimes I need to just leave it in the other room so I do not even have the temptation to touch it. After Hudson falls asleep and we both have finished up whatever personal activity we were pursuing for that evening, we really do try to spend good time together. In all honesty, we sometimes really fail in this area because we are so exhausted, but I think we are both learning that this hour to hour and a half we have together is so precious. We really need to use that time together well.
5. Drink Water, Floss & Pray
I am a terrible water drinker! I need to get better in this area, but right before bed I always make sure I have at least a few big gulps of water. I also keep a cup of water in our room so when I get up at night to nurse Hudson, I always make sure I sip water before heading back into bed. Along with water consumption, I am a terrible flosser. Every time I go to the dentist, my gums bleed. I have heard, “You need to floss more,” a countless number of times. I go through phases. Sometimes I am all about the flossing and I am super consistent with it. Others times, I skip it all together. It is kind of like bed making, which I talked about here. It feels small, but it is a consistent healthy habit. Even if you had an evening of tv and cookies, at least you are doing one thing productive and healthy! Plus, your gums will thank you. Once the water drinking and flossing have ended, Lance and I together always end our days with prayer aloud. As I wrote in the morning routine post, prayer is an important part of the way I begin my day. For us, it is also an important way we end it. I am thankful for this time to hear the prayers and heart of my husband. Maybe you aren’t the praying type. I still think having some type of quiet, intentional time before sleeping is a great way to end the day. Maybe it is a meditation. Maybe it a moment of gratitude. Maybe it is a conscious breath in and out. However you end your day, I hope you can feel like it is enough. This is a struggle for me. So much so that I am currently reading A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller. I have just begun so we will see if it helps me with this battle I daily fight of wondering if everything I do is ever enough. I do not always end my days feeling like it was enough. I sometimes end with a sad heart. A tired heart. A defeated heart. This is the reality, this is real life. But, this sad, tired, defeated heart can turn to the Lord and lay down the struggles and triumphs of the day and also the hopes for a better tomorrow. I am so thankful for this hope!