Blog/ Routines and Planning

How to Create a Weeknight Routine That Calms

Had a long-ass day? A weeknight routine that chills everyone out, including mom, is beneficial for more reasons than just your sanity.

Our calming weeknight routine is everything to me some days, especially on the long days that feel like they never end.

At the end of the longest day in the history of ever, or at least since yesterday, the last thing I usually want to to is struggle getting my kids to eat, clean the kitchen, pack up our bags for tomorrow, fight over pajamas, etc etc etc.

And yet, that’s life, right? We gotta eat dinner, we need to bathe, the bags need to get packed and those kids gotta get shipped off to bed.

What I’ve found is that creating a weeknight routine that calms while getting the important shit done is most important.

Seriously, it can be all the difference between staying Sane Mommy, or totally losing it and shouting at my kids, “JUST GET YOUR PAJAMAS ON NOW FOR THE LOVE OF GOD”.

Weeknight routines are important for a multitude of reasons (especially since kids thrive on them) but if I’m being honest, one of the things I love about routine is that it gives my brain an effing break.

If we do something every single dang day, then once that thing becomes routine, we can settle back into autopilot, and give our brains a rest from making decisions.

After I’ve spent most of the day making decisions on everything else, it’s a pretty welcome break to have a weeknight routine that does the thinking for me.

The weeknight routines in everyone’s house is going to be slightly different, depending on your family’s needs, schedules, your personal patience level and workload, etc.

And while I’m sure you’re a capable adult who can figure out the things that need to get done every night before everyone hits the hay, there are a few tactics and strategies I use every week to keep our weeknights calm and my brain un-frazzled.

First: Meal Prep Your Heart Out, Mama. And if You Can’t: Outsource It.

Meal prep is the backbone of an easy weeknight, since getting meal prep done ahead of time takes away a lot of typical weeknight stress.

If I make sure to set aside even an hour at the start of the week to chop vegetables, cook rice, shred chicken, etc- it saves me way more than an hour each weeknight getting dinner ready.

If I don’t have the time to meal prep, I grab pre-chopped vegetables and rotisserie chicken and deli-prepared salads beforehand. The extra money I spend on meal prepped items saves me waaaaaay more insanity and I would gladly trade in my weekly store-bought coffees for the difference in price.

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Second: Turn off the Screens OR Use a Blue Light Filter

Yeah yeah yeah, we all know screen time is bad for everyone and will make us all go crazy someday. But what about not going crazy NOW!? That’s why we turn to screens in the first place, amiright?

If you can turn off the screens at least an hour before bedtime, then go you! But if not, blue light filters help prevent the blocking of melatonin surges, which happens when our bodies are exposed to artificial lights in the evenings. And we need that melatonin surge to sleep! So if you must use the screen, get a blue light filter app installed (many phones and tablets already come with it loaded, so check first). Your eyes and sleep will thank you.

Third: Habit Track the Stuff You’re Struggling With

I’m a recent convert to bullet journaling, and I love it for many reasons. One “spread” style I especially love in bullet journaling is habit tracking. Here’s an example from Kara at Boho Berry, writing at BulletJournal.com:

The thing that makes Habit Trackers awesome is that they keep you accountable for doing the good stuff.

No matter if you use an analog or a digital planning system, or even a reminder set on your phone, getting into the rhythm of a good thing will- I swear this to you- leave room for more good things to come into your life.

Fourth: Turn Down the Overhead Lights

I hate overhead lights at home. I shut them off as often as possible, prefering the glow of lamps scattered around our house. But overheads lights are a must at some times; we need them in the kitchen, for example, and the bathroom.

But I find that if I make it a point to keep the overhead lights off unless absolutely necessary (ie, no peeing in the dark), it hrelps our general calm down mood at home before bed.

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Fifth: Start the Bedtime Routine Earlier and Earlier

Our kids are smart. They know that once I make the call for pj’s, bedtime’s not far off.

So I’ve been purposely trying to mess with their heads lately by dropping parts of our nighttime routine in places where it isn’t usually.

Like, “hey, let’s eat dinner in our pajamas!” and “Let’s brush teeth and THEN watch a movie!” If I start our routine super early, then I can sneak attack the parts they hate and cut out a lot of whining.

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Sixth: Calming Nighttime Crafty Stuff

Not to keep harping on about it, but one thing I’ve been loving about the bullet journal lately is that it creates space to doodle.

I’ve never really considered myself much of an artist, but I love coloring quotes and drawing geometrical doodles in the corner of my bullet journal. I do it at night in front of the TV and can’t get over how easy it makes it for me to shut my brain off at the end of the day.

Studies show that knitting, crafting, sewing and the like make people happier and with less stress. Try doing a simple, soothing craft after the kids go to bed, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. It keeps your hands busy (and off of scrolling Instagram) and can elevate your mood while helping you wind down at the end of a long day.

Seventh: Plan Tonight for Tomorrow

It may make you more stressed to think about tomorrow before today has even ended, but once you get into the habit of planning tomrorow the night before, it makes your days run smoother- guaranteed!

For me, this doesn’t mean anything more than sitting down with my planner for literally like 10 minutes every night and crossing items off my to-do list, setting up a list for tomorrow, writing down funny things my kids said, and rearranging my meal plan (because it’s in constant flux, I swear. Our lives change daily!)

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There you have it- the strategies and shortcuts I use to make our nights at home more calming than stressed, even with kids who seem to be allergic to bedtime. I hope someof these tactics help you, too!

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