4 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Evenings (and How to Turn it Around)
As the day goes on, our reserves of will power get used up. Which is probably why my natural inclination after a long day of kid wrangling, laundry doing, mess cleaning, food making, and diaper changing is to sit on the couch and avoid any unnecessary movement.
All while I let the latest binge-worthy Netflix show wash over me like a gentle wave.
Once we’ve run through the bedtime shenanigans and 4 little heads are nestled in their pillows, I am straight up pooped. Like end-of-a-marathon-fall-asleep-where-I’m-standing exhausted (aka MOTHERHOOD).
But instead of actually taking care of myself and listening to my needs, I just wasted time.
(Not unlike my kids at bedtime.)
My natural response was to push the fatigue aside and feel all the glory of what it’s like to do absolutely nothing for several hours. I wanted to relish being awake and not have to be constantly meeting someone else’s needs.
However, an evening spent in mindless activity (I’m talking’ to you Netflix) all but guarantees that the next day is going to be rough. It means crummy sleep, and a cranky morning once my kids are trying to pry my exhausted body out of bed to make them breakfast.
Before I even realized how my evenings were impacting my entire day, I realized that I needed to change my morning routines and wake up earlier. Once I made over my mornings I started to accomplish loads more every day (you can read my post here).
But early mornings forced me to recognize that I was blowing my evenings BIG TIME.
I needed to be way more intentional with my time.
Which led to me to searching for evening routine ideas. And resulted in me completely changing my evening routines by implementing more structure and prioritizing self care. In doing so, my sleep quality improved a ton, I was happier, accomplished more, and was more relaxed.
So what are your evening like? If they’re like mine used to be then here is how you’re sabotaging your evenings…and how you can turn it all around (with several evening routine ideas).
1) YOU DON’T HAVE AN INTENTIONAL EVENING ROUTINE.
By the end of the day, we’re exhausted. Which is why late at night we are way more inclined to eat food we shouldn’t eat and waste time with things we shouldn’t do.
If we don’t have a specific plan for our evenings, then we are at the mercy of whatever forces come our way.
How to turn it around: Design Your Ideal Routine
If I’ve got no plan for once my kids are in bed, it’s all but guaranteed I’m going to waste time and end up even more exhausted. But simply having a plan makes it way more likely that I’m going to make smart choices even though exhausted.
When you’re tired, it’s hard to make good choices. Creating a plan beforehand takes away needing to choose when you are exhausted. You can just follow through with the plan you already put in place.
So what do you want your ideal evening to look like? Do you envision yourself cozied up in an armchair reading a book? Or taking a fragrant bubble bath? Drinking relaxing tea as you decompress and talk about your day with your husband? Meditating? Working towards a personal goal? Completing a project?
Once you know what activities you want in your evenings, determine what things are getting in your way.
For me, it was screens. Whether TV, phone, or computer screens, at the end of a long day I just wanted to get lost in mindless consumption. While it was nice to zone out, it didn’t leave me feeling particularly relaxed or help me get to my goals.
I realized that taking a bath and reading before bed were far more effective at leaving me relaxed and fulfilled. They even help me sleep better. So I do both nearly every single night.
Start eliminating the time-wasters and including more of what actually relaxes you and makes you happy. Create your evening rules that you will stick to. My rules are generally no eating and no screens (unless there is a planned exception like a stay-at-home date once the kids are in bed).
2) YOU DON’T HAVE A BEDTIME.
We often think of bedtimes in relation to our kids. We give them bedtimes knowing that they need a certain amount of sleep each night or else they turn into little monsters.
Our bedtimes, on the other hand, tends to be very flexible.
But just like our kids, we REALLY need our sleep to function well, be healthy, and not turn into The Hulk when the day gets frustrating. Experts say that as adults, we need at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I’ve discovered that I need 8-9 to function well.
When I don’t get my 8 hours of sleep, I’m not as happy, I’m more likely to overeat (and eat things that aren’t healthy), and I don’t get near as much done as when I’m fully rested. Frankly, I’m super inefficient when sleep-deprived.
How to turn it around: Figure out how much sleep you need.
So how much sleep do you REALLY need to function well? Be honest with yourself. Hint: it’s more than 7. Surviving is one thing, but actually thriving is another. How much do you need to thrive?
Set your bedtime accordingly and make keeping it a priority. As a mom, it’s sooooo easy to put your needs last. But when you are well-rested everyone is going to win when there is a happier, more patient mama around.
For more on improving sleep, check out my post 10 Strategies For Moms to Dramatically Improve Sleep.
3) YOU’VE GOT TOO MANY SCREENS HAPPENING.
While we scroll though our smartphones or binge watch TV all in the name of relaxing, it ironically leaves us less likely to get quality sleep. The light emanating from the screens actually makes it harder to fall asleep and to then sleep soundly.
Also, have you notices that when you’re in front of a screen you enter a weird time warp? I’ll think “Oh I’ll just check out FB/Instagram/news for a few minutes” and while I’ll think 10 minutes has passed, a whole hour has flown by.
Screens mess up your sleep and suck up your time.
How to turn it around: Stop screens a few hours before your bedtime.
You’ve already determined what bedtime is going to be best for you. Cut off your screen time in the 3 hours before your bedtime. This will help your body relax and prepare for a more restful sleep.
I know it’s tough. Oh heavens, I know exactly how hard it can be. We are literally surrounded by screens.
But cutting off screens in the evening has been the most important change I have made to my evenings. Suddenly, I had more time to do things that actually feed my soul that I can’t get to during the day (e.g. reading, goal setting, planning, thinking coherent thoughts).
If you only change one thing about your evenings, ditch the screens. That alone will transform your evenings…and your sleep.
4) YOU DON’T PRIORITIZE SELF CARE.
Effective relaxation–the kind that makes your broken self feel whole again–all comes down to self-care practices. And just to clarify, doing nothing is not self care.
I may have tried to fool myself that sitting on the couch, not moving, was self care. But it wasn’t. Self care needs to be intentional. It doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact, I’d say it shouldn’t be), but it should be purposeful.
Self care is intentionally taking care of our minds, souls and bodies. And it is essential to not just creating the evening we want, but creating the life we want.
How to turn it around: Add self care to your evening routine.
Some examples of self care practices you can add to your evening routine:
- take a bath
- read a book for enjoyment
- go for a walk/run around your neighborhood (and listen to music you love, an audio book, or podcast)
For more self care evening routine ideas, check out my post Getting Started With Self Care.
You can create a fulfilling and relaxing evening routine.
As exhausted moms, at the end of the day we just want to relax and do the stuff we couldn’t do throughout the day. We want to drown out our fatigue into our phone screens or binge watch one of the zillions of must-watch series that get zapped on demand straight to out TVs.
But with these evening routine ideas, your evening can be a catalyst to a happier, healthier, and more organized life. Your evenings determine your sleep quality, energy, self care practice, health and happiness.
Mama, you’ve got this!