How to Maximize your Nighttime Routine

Motherhood has many talents, but maybe its most notorious skill is ‘time thief.’ Just when you think you’ve mastered making the most of your 24 hours, something changes and you’re left wondering how you can squeeze it all in again. Like many of us, my evenings are golden and I am trying to master the art of squeezing a full days work into two hours before bed. I’m no expert yet, but here are the things that have helped me make the most of my precious evening hours (instead of burning the candle at both ends and hanging on by a thread. Just me? Okay.)

1. Get a head start on clean up. Immediately after dinner, we clear the table, put the food in storage containers and wet all the pots and pans I didn’t get a chance to clean up in the cooking process. There’s nothing worse than coming downstairs after the beast that is bedtime to a bunch of stuck-on food.

2. Consider splitting the workload. Up until a few months ago, O and I have pretty much always done the nighttime routine together if we’re home. While O is still tiring out the babes, I run the tub and set up jams and essential oils. He’d usually send them up and follow them soon after.  One day a few months ago, he stayed downstairs to clean the playroom (the daunting task we tackle every single night) and it was magic. Now, every night one of us will do bath time while the other tidies as much as possible.

3. Start your skincare routine right after putting the kids to bed. I used to put off my nighttime routine until far too late in the evening when I could hardly keep my eyes open. I’m one of those people that cannot go to bed without doing the whole bit- the floss, the brushing, the makeup removing, the wash, serum, toner, lotion- all of it. Let me tell you, that routine is a lot less “self care” and a lot more “self sabotage” at 11:30pm. Now, I change into my robe right after tucking the kids in and get to it. With a podcast on and my energy still high, doing my bedtime routine before really digging into my night has made it wonderful again.

4. Split up your together/solo nights. There was a season of our life when O was still in the league that we spent almost no nights together. He had to watch film, ice far too many body parts and get to bed early enough to be at the facility early. When he retired, we switched to a season of life where we spent every night together. It was such a fun and fulfilling time where we breezed through movies and shows, frequented game night and read together a whole lot.

Once we had kids, we learned we needed to be very strategic about how we spend our evenings. We both work for ourselves and the temptation is to spend the chunk of time after cleaning up til we hit the pillow on work, but that’s not the equation for a healthy marriage. Planning out our ‘date nights’ and ‘work nights’ has been crucial the past few years. At least one night a week we have a date/work night where we work at the same table or couch and watch or listen to the same thing so we’re together but still accomplishing what needs to be done!

5. Set a bedtime and stick to it. I must say, I’m adding this as a reminder to myself. I currently wake up at 6 every morning. As a mother, and especially as a mother with Hashimoto’s, I should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. That means I should not only be in bed but in bed and dreaming by 10pm. That will never stop sounding like a joke to me. I will say, for the months I woke up at 5:00 every morning and went to bed no later than 10, I felt fantastic. O and I like to go to bed at the same time so we just encourage each other and keep each other accountable. Everything shuts down at 10:30 (sometimes 11) and we head up to read and settle into bedtime.

It’s so tempting to get in a slump of laying in bed, watching The Office at 11:45 but I feel like a much better version of myself when I incorporate all of these things. What are your tips for getting the most out of your evenings?

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