How to Create an Evening Routine for Calm + Productive Days

Everything you need to know to create the perfect evening routine just for you.

woman reading on bed looking away from camera

Let’s face it, this whole thing sounds like a bit much. Isn’t it easier, at the end of a long day, to simply relax on the couch, have a drink, and go to bed when you finally can’t keep your eyes open anymore?

Well, no. And here’s why: have you ever had one of those awful days where you couldn’t stop hitting the snooze button, felt behind on everything all day? Chances are, you had a late or stressful evening before that.

So take 20 minutes every night to take care of a few important things before going to bed. You’ll be glad you did.

Why do you need an evening routine and why is it worth the trouble?

As they say, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

An evening routine is a way to tell your brain it’s time to wind down and get ready to go to sleep in hopes of getting a full night’s rest.

When your mind is able to rest you can fall asleep faster and have better sleep quality (yes, that’s a thing).

Lastly, a good night routine will allow you to prepare for the next day and give you a better chance for a great day tomorrow.

Related: help yourself with productive morning routines.

Ready to settle into a slower, simpler life at home? Download your free guide: 3 Simple Steps to a Homemaking Routine You’ll Love.

What Should you include in a night routine?

vintage mug on wooden board

Your evening routine can begin whenever you feel it is best. I like to think of anything after dinner as part of the evening routine. But if you’re more of a night owl, you might have a longer time between dinner and bed.

Here are some ideas of what you can do to end your day smoothly.

Tidy the house

A clean house helps everyone tie up any loose ends the afternoon has left and allows you to wake up with a fresh start the next day. There’s nothing worse than waking up to a messy house. Let’s end that once and for all by resetting the house to an acceptable level of neatness every night before bed.

Get the family involved with clean up, especially if the kids are the ones who helped make the mess.

Evening chores are a great way to involve the kids in home management and teaching responsibility. It’s not always fun; you might have to take the time to introduce a chore, but it’s absolutely worth sticking with. Cleaning up the house yourself every night is no fun and no fair.

Make a relaxing/fun drink.

During the cold winter months, a warm cup of tea or cider sets the mood for a relaxing evening.

In the summer, I might pull out a warm drink, but typically a nice glass of wine or fruity cold drink helps me cool off and settle down.

Look at your plans for the next day.

Pull out your calendar, to-do lists, and meal plan for tomorrow, and make sure there isn’t anything coming you weren’t expecting. Prepare yourself and your mind for what tomorrow might hold. However, don’t stress about the next day.

Any goal or task that did not get checked off move it to the next available day. Or better yet, scratch it off your list entirely if it’s no longer a priority.

An old-fashioned homemaker trick I use is scheduling my homemaking tasks into themed days, for example, Laundry Day, Kitchen Day, Cleaning Day, etc. Look at what your next day’s tasks are to better prepare yourself for tomorrow.

Related: How to divide your housekeeping into weekly focus days

Remember, this is just a quick glance! You don’t want to linger over your planner and start getting worked up. You’re just reminding yourself of what you’re doing tomorrow.

Prep for your morning

Once you’ve looked through your schedule, menu, and to-do list, see what you can do ahead of time to help prep for the morning.

  • Take the meat out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner.
  • Start the dishwasher now and unloading it first thing in the morning.
  • Set your clothes out for the next day.
  • Make lunches for tomorrow.
  • Set out breakfast dishes.

The possibilities are endless but don’t get stuck on this part. Only prepare for the next day a few minutes before moving on to another step in your evening routine. If these things feel helpful to you, do them.

Whatever can help you shave a few minutes or even seconds off a task or goal for tomorrow is time well spent tonight.

Turn off all devices.

You’ve heard all the warnings about blue light and how it messes with your brain. And whether you believe that or not, being on phone wastes your freee

Disengage from the world. Sometimes I’ll sneak a peek at social media before setting my phone aside in the evening, but it takes every bit of self-control I have to put it back down again. So I try not to look at my phone once I’ve started on my evening routine.

There is no excuse. Most smartphones have a nighttime setting that disengages apps and only allows specific texts and phone calls in the evening hours.

Whichever way is best for you to disconnect from the outside world is best.

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Self-care.

Self-care can look different for everyone. Is it a project you want to tackle? Reading a book? Watching a show? Going for a walk with your husband? Completing a Bible study? Taking a long bath? Painting your nails?

Pick at least one activity that allows you to take care of yourself or your relationships. 

Yes, relaxing in bed and watching a TV show you enjoy counts. Don’t make this too hard.

Gratitude or Prayer Journal.

evening journaling notebooks on bed

Take some time to write down what you’re grateful for. This can be a formal gratitude journal, or just a note in your planner.

Don’t necessarily write down the big life things you’re thankful for unless something happened that truly made you remember how blessed you are. Writing down “my children” night after night is not terribly reflective, is it?

Look for more minor things that happened throughout your day to reflect on. Maybe how you drank your coffee before it was cold? A big sibling helped teach a younger sibling a new skill. Think along those lines when doing this.

Or keep track of your prayers with a prayer journal. You can include your blessings and your concerns by writing out your prayers.

Does this sound overwhelming? Try doing just one word for gratitude and one word for concerns or requests.

Journaling can be a cathartic way to release whatever anxieties you have. It’s amazing how it clarifies your thoughts and helps you relax.

It also helps you remember the good in every day, even when it feels overshadows by stress and worry.

Bedtime routine

Yes, this is slightly different from the just the evening routine. We’re talking about actually getting ready for bed.

You know, brushing your teeth and putting on your pajamas.

I know you know how to do this, but try to get in the habit of doing things in the same order every night. It sends that little extra signal to your brain that sleep is coming and helps you to relax.

Go to bed at a decent hour.

Benjamin Franklin, in his infinite wisdom, told us all the benefits of an early bedtime. And as they say, nothing good happens after midnight.

This can sometimes be the most challenging part of a nighttime routine. Turning off the light and not getting distracted with something else.

Those of you who are high achievers may be anxious to get just one more little task done. But a good night’s sleep will help your productivity tomorrow.

Now, hopefully, you’ve put your phone away long ago, and you feel prepped for tomorrow. So rest, and relax.

Research suggests 7-8 hours a night of sleep is best, but I say follow your body. Some people work best with 9 hours of sleep a night. Determine what amount of sleep allows you to work at your best.

If you do nothing else on this list, set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it. Make it a habit and it will become easier and easier.

Change things up.

Lastly, don’t be a slave to your routines. They exist for one purpose: to serve you. They should solve problems, not create more trouble.

So don’t be afraid to change things up, especially if you find something is no longer working for you. Or if the season of your life has suddenly changed, like the birth of a baby or you have health concerns, give yourself some grace.

The purpose of routines and rhythms is to help you be the best version of yourself possible.

Of course, the only night routine that really works is one that you create for yourself. Take a few minutes to make one that helps you unwind from the day and set you up for success the next day.

I promise you’ll wake up calmer and happier. No snooze button required.

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Click here to subscribe By on March 25th, 2021

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