My evening routine

A good evening routine would set me up for a restful night of sleep and a good next day.

I wanted to create a realistic and stress-free (as much as possible) evening routine, so I had to leave enough time for everything I wanted and needed to do. I hate to be pressed for time in the evening when I’m tired and trying to wind down! Sometimes it still happens, and it’s oh-so annoying.

My evening routine starts early

I figured out that the evening routine starts as early as 17:00 (5 pm) when I leave to pick up William from daycare. I could pick him up anytime before 18:00 (6 pm), but if I leave later than 17:00 (5 pm), I just end up being too late for everything else, and I then have to rush. So I do my best to finish up my work, get ready, and leave on time.

By the time William and I get home, it’s usually 17:50 (5:50 pm) or 18:00 (6:00 pm). Seriously, how does it take so long to pick up a kid from daycare?! But it does. Every single time. I chat with the caregivers, he wants to show me what he’s made that day, I need to get him dressed and set up… That’s just how it is. Accept it and work with it.

Once home, I immediately warm up our dinner (we do food prep, so we don’t need to cook in the evenings). My goal is to start eating dinner at 18:00 (6:00 pm), but that basically never happens. 18:15 (6:15 pm) is more realistic, and that seems to be fine. Sometimes it’s all three of us having dinner (Jacob, William, and I), and other times (2-3 times per week) Jacob works late. Setting the table and then clearing the dishes all goes faster, of course, if Jacob is at home, but I try to have enough time for doing it by myself as well.

After dinner, William and I unpack his backpack, prepare his stuff for tomorrow, and open any mail/or packages (the kid loves opening letters and packages!).

A new addition to my evening routine is to clean the kitchen every evening. I don’t scrub it clean or whatever, but I do make sure all dirty dishes are put in the dishwasher and any dirty pots and pans get cleaned. Jacob and I usually split this work because, let’s be honest, who likes washing dishes. But the effect is amazing! We have a beautiful, clean kitchen, and the following morning it feels good to walk into the kitchen and make breakfast and tea. (Reality check: our kitchen is not 100% clean every evening. Rather, it’s cleaned up/tidied up instead of full of dirty dishes. It still makes a huge difference.)

Time to unwind

Once everything is ready, I shower while William watches a kids’ show. He knows this is his watching time, which means he doesn’t ask whether he can watch videos throughout the day. He knows it happens while mama showers. And knowing he is watching something allows me to shower calmly without wondering whether he’s breaking down the place (remember, Jacob is not home at this point 3 times per week, so the concern is real).

And for me, my shower time feels like true me-time: it helps me relax and unwind at the end of the day. Once I’m out of the shower and putting on face cream and lotion, I’m listening to a fun audiobook like a novel or a memoir. It’s truly enjoyable.

Then, I go to William, and we have special Mama-and-William time. This is 15 minutes when I join him in whatever game he wants to play: cars, dinosaurs, a puzzle, balloons, whatever. For 15 minutes, he calls the shots, and we do whatever he wants. After that, we tidy up the toys.

After that, it’s time for him to sleep. We brush teeth, go to the bathroom, put on pajamas, read a book, and say goodnight. Jacob and I do this together if he’s home, but I may also do it by myself if he’s not home yet, and vice versa (I go out one evening per week, and on that evening the men have their own kingdom at home!).

Once William is in bed, I’m pretty sleepy too. I prepare some last things such as water for the night, and then I get myself ready for bed. I like to read a bit before bed, and how much I read is determined by how tired I am. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, and sometimes it’s 20. When my eyes start closing, I know it’s time for sleep.

I turn off the light around 21:15 (9:15 pm) these days. Crazy, I know! But I’m just really tired, and I fall asleep super easily. So I just sleep.

Don’t you watch a TV show at night?

You may be wondering, when do I have time with my husband to relax together? Don’t we watch a show in the evening like most couples? No, we don’t watch a show at night. I love watching shows, but they get me so wound up (if it’s a good show) that I find it difficult to fall asleep afterwards.

Our situation is a little bit unique in that I work from home, and he works from home some days, so we have time to ourselves during the day, usually in the afternoon when William is at daycare or is taking his afternoon nap. That works much better for us because by 21h (9 pm) we are so tired we just want to sleep.

Now, this 9 pm bedtime is relatively new for us, and Jacob wasn’t exactly happy when I introduced the idea. He wasn’t convinced it was necessary, but I asked him to just try it for 1 week. And, if he didn’t like it, he’d be welcome to go back to going to bed at 10 pm, while I’d probably go to sleep earlier.

Well, he loved it! Now he’s an even bigger proponent of going to bed early. While I’m okay with a 21:15 bedtime, he’s like, “Come on, we said 21:00, let’s make it happen!” It’s really funny, actually! But it also makes sense: he gets up at 5 am (or 5:30 if he’s really tired) to study for an exam he will take in a couple of months, and this is the only time he can do his studying. He tried doing it in the evenings, but he was falling asleep the entire time. Instead, in the mornings, he’s fresh and able to read and study.

And me? I sleep until 6:30. From 21:30 (at the latest) until 6:30, you may wonder? Yep. I don’t know what to say, I just do. Today, I woke up at 6:00 and thought, “Wow, I’m awake early! Let me just chill in bed for 5 minutes, and then I’ll get up.” Well, I must have drifted off because when I actually got up it was 6:28. Apparently, I just need to sleep, so I’m going for it!

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