Creating an Evening Routine

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Do you often feel stressed and harried getting out the door in the mornings? Establishing an evening routine can actually help you set yourself up for success in the morning. Evening routines are beneficial for so many reasons. Whether you’re a single person living on your own trying to be a good grown up, or your parent of multiple kids that’s trying to corral the chaos, evening routines can help with it all.

An evening routine might just be what you need for a stress free morning.

What is an evening routine?

An evening routine is a schedule that includes consistent tasks and actions that you follow every single night. Your evening routine may vary on the weekends with later social events and bedtimes, but weekday routines are especially important.

Benefits of Evening Routines

If you’ve read my post about morning routines, some benefits of evening routines may be familiar to you.

Related Reading: Creating Kids’ Morning Routines

Evening routines can help…

  • Improve sleep. Having a regular evening routine helps signal to your body and mind that it’s time for bed, so by the time you climb in, you’re ready to sleep.
  • Prepare for the next day. When you include tasks in your routine such as packing lunch and showering in your evening routines, you can get a jump start on tomorrow by preparing today.
  • Maintain Positive Relationships. I know I’m not alone in sometimes losing my patience with my children as I rattle off the tasks they need to complete before they get in bed. I don’t like it; they don’t like it. Routines help prevent all the frustration. My kids and I can stay on better terms and treat each other with more respect when we know our routines and follow them.
  • Be Independent. Routines become almost mindless once they’re established. When kids know what’s expected of them in the morning, they will begin to complete these tasks without prompting.
  • Be Confident. When kids know what we expect of them and do it, they become more confident and secure. Establishing routines and communicating them can help with this.
  • Build Healthy Habits. As an adult, we know routines are important. We can set our kids up for lifelong success by helping them establish and follow routines as children.
Going to bed is where an evening routine ends.

How to Establish an Evening Routine

An evening routine can start for you whenever you’d like whether that’s 3:00 in the afternoon or 6:00 p.m. in the evening, but most often evening routines start around dinnertime, although it’s hard to differentiate between an after-school routine and an evening routine, since they often run together.

Creating an evening routine is the same as creating a morning routine, just with different tasks on a different timeline.

Step 1: Make a List

Compile a list of all the things that you need to get done in an evening. Add things that are goals to get done, not necessarily things that you currently get done. Once you establish a routine, it should be easier to accomplish more.

The items on your list will probably include tasks such as making dinner, eating dinner, cleaning up after dinner, doing homework, packing lunches, packing backpacks, feeding pets, taking showers, and going to bed. Include time for fun or relaxing as a family by playing a game or watching a television show.

Hopefully you can include some fun family time in your evening routine.

Include as much as possible in your evening routine since it will probably be less rushed than in the morning. If you have children who need baths and lunches, plan these in your evenings.

Side note: Bedtime itself will (should) probably include its own smaller routine within a larger routine. Here’s some great info on bedtime routines.

Step 2: Determine a Start and Stop Time

After you’ve created your list, determine what time you’d like to have all items on the list completed—this will probably be bedtime. Then, determine when you’d like to start the routine.

Bedtime is a perfect end to your evening routine.
Bedtime is a perfect end to your evening routine.

If your children get home from school at 3:30 and you’d like to get a routine going at that point, start there. If you work and don’t get home until 6:30, start your routine at that point There is no right or wrong. It’s what works for you and your family.

Step 3: Time Your Tasks

After you decide what time you’d like your routine to stop and start, create lengths of time you think each activity will take. For instance, maybe making dinner usually takes 30 minutes, eating dinner takes 30 minutes, and cleaning up after dinner takes 15 minutes. There’s an hour and fifteen minutes of your evening routine.

Continue estimating how long each task will take until you’ve gone through your entire list.

Make sure there's plenty of time for dinner in your evening plans.

Step 4: Create a Schedule

Insert all of your tasks into the time you started your routine and make sure they’re completed by bedtime. Be sure to include a buffer, especially around tasks that vary, such as doing homework or preparing dinner.

A sample evening routine for a family
Here’s a sample of what an evening routine might look like for a family with kids in elementary school.

Establish a preferred order of events for your routine. Obviously, preparing dinner is going to come before eating dinner and cleaning up will come after. It’s okay to leave some tasks flexible, but you should have a pretty good idea of what tasks will get done in what order and at what time.

Step 5: Implement Your Routine

It may take some work at first, but eventually your routine will run almost on its own. Your family will know what to expect and will be able to do their part.

Evening Routine Success

Routines will look different depending on the ages of your children.

Meal Plan

I’ve learned the hard way that I am not a great last-minute meal maker. I work best with a plan in place, especially when evening hits and I’m tired and hungry. It’s one less thing to think about in an otherwise chaotic evening.

Related Reading: Monthly Meal Planning

Make a Checklist

To help yourself and family members stay on track, especially at first, consider making a checklist with the items that need to get done every evening. If you get distracted or something unexpected comes up, refer to the list and get back on pace!

Assign Jobs

To make dinner prep and clean up go more smoothly, I’ve assigned each of my children “dinner jobs.” These simple jobs such as getting drinks, setting the table, and helping serve food, take less off my plate and provide them with responsibility.

Kids Chores Routines

After dinner, they help clear the dishes, feed pets, wipe the table, and make their lunches.

Related Post: Packing Lunches, A Simple System

If you’re feeling like you’ve got too much to do, delegate!

Need Ideas? Teaching Kids Laundry by Age, Chores for 10-Year-Olds, Chores for 8-Year-Olds should give you some! Use these guidelines to help them be successful.

My Evening Routine

Our evening routine pretty much starts when my kids get home from school. They do their homework or play while I make dinner, then we clean the kitchen, pack lunches, have some family time, and get ready for bed… We do the same thing every night.

If one child has an activity, one parent brings child while the other parent stays home and continues with the routine.

Weekends and summer definitely throw us off routine, but in a good way. Having some off-routine time is fun, but it also makes us appreciate the routine that much more. Plus, when we have routines in place, we can easily skip a night and get back on the right track the next night.

I definitely feel that my children are more responsible and flexible because of our routines. They know what to expect and they know what we expect of them, which results in better behavior and better family dynamic. Five out of five stars, definitely recommend.

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