Over the past few months I have been testing how small changes in habits and daily routines can lead to desired outcomes in our lives. I recently took a look at my nighttime routine and what changes I could make to help create more a more calming end to the day while setting myself up for more efficient mornings.
I have 2.5 year old twin boys and those 2 hours after they go to sleep is a gift of freedom that only parents can truly understand. My initial instinct is to go lay on the couch and relax. I can be on the couch by 8PM and asleep by 8:10PM. The problem is that whether I’m sleeping or just lounging, around 10PM I start to feel the anxiety. I am either thinking about what I need to do to prepare for the next day or I leave it until the morning and then I’m rushed, frazzled, and again, filled with stress and anxiety. It’s a vicious circle that I was determined to fix.
I started to focus on small actions that I knew would not only benefit my nights but also help create efficient mornings. Small actions are important to me because this mama is tired after a long day. I found these 6 nighttime habits helped me better end my days and prepare for busy mornings.
LAY OUT WHAT’S GOING OUT
We’ve all been there, you are trying to get out the door but you can’t find your keys or you realize on your way to work that you forgot your lunch. Efficient mornings start with well planned nights. Start by laying out what is going to leave the house with you in the morning. Below is a list of items I regularly lay out when planning for the next day.
- Kids Outfits
- My Outfit
- Purse/Work Bag
- Diaper Bag
- Items for Daycare (diapers, teacher gifts, etc.)
- Workout Bag
If I can’t lay something out by the door then I will put my car keys on the item. For example, if my computer is charging, I will put my keys on the computer so I can’t leave without it. If there is more than one item that I can’t put by the door, I’ll write a list and put my keys on the list. This allows me to ensure that even though the items are out of sight, they are not out of mind. By following this nighttime routine you can ensure you are ready to head out the door in the morning.
PLAN FOR THE DAY AHEAD
When my day is done I take a quick moment to review my to-do list and check the calendar. To see what digital to-do list and calendar I use, take a look at my post Organized Chaos – 3 Tips to Managing Busy Days. I start by reviewing the next day’s to-dos, assessing tasks, and prioritizing each item. Then I check my calendar to see what is scheduled the next day. By planning ahead, you can rest easy knowing that you are ready to take on the day.
TIDY UP THE COMMON AREAS
Having twin toddler boys, I bet that you can imagine what our house looks like at the end of the day. When there is clutter in your home your brain will focus on the work that needs to be done to put everything away. Unlike clutter, an organized space helps reduce unwanted stress and gives you that much needed sense of calm. In order to calm my brain, my husband and I work together to tidy up before bed. Remember, you don’t need to clean your whole house. Focus on the common areas that you use the most. For us, that’s our kitchen and family room. When you create a calm environment, you can more easily relax at the end of the day.
RELAX AND WIND DOWN
We all have different ways of winding down including meditation, reading books, or simply watching TV. At our house, we have been binging on Bosch from Amazon Studios and more recently Luther starring Idris Elba. Let me tell you though, Luther is not your typical wind down type of show. In fact, it gave me quite a bit of nighttime anxiety but I couldn’t stop watching. Just a warning for my more sensitive readers and recommendation for those that like psychological crime dramas.
Regardless of what we’re watching, I like to put work away, my phone down, and take the time to just relax and enjoy the show. I also have learned to be more in tune and listen to my body. If I’m feeling stressed, instead of TV, I might hit the elliptical or take an extra 10 minutes to meditate. If your body is telling you what it needs, listen! When you are able to fully relax, you will find that you sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
MAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE
Until recently, I never made consistent time for self-care. Sure, I would get the occasional massage or schedule a manicure but for the most part, I wasn’t practicing self-care regularly. I recently saw a meme on Instagram with a picture of a phone that was low on battery. Over the image were the words, “You wouldn’t let this happen to your phone. Don’t let it happen to you either”. Just like you charge your phone at night, it’s important that we take time daily to rest and restore our energy.
I now make self-care part of my daily routine. For me, it can be a warm bath with the aroma of my favorite bath salts, a nourishing face mask, or simply not rushing when I apply lotion or my face cream. The more you take time for yourself, the more you will see that newfound energy pouring into other areas of your life.
REFLECTION AND GRATITUDE
How many times in 2020 have you said, I can’t believe it’s August, September, and now October? This year feels like it is flying by but guess what, it is not any shorter than previous years. The difference is that with all that is going on, we rarely stop to think about our days. Before we know it, weeks have past. I have recently found a new love for journaling. I specifically like The 5 Minute Journal: A Happier You In 5 Minutes because well, 5 minutes!
It begins your day with focus and optimism and ends the day with reflection and gratitude. By journaling daily, I have been able to see patterns in how my actions affect my moods and I also now find the positives in days I normally would consider to be mediocre at best. When I answer the nighttime questions, it signals to me that my day is done and it’s time for bed. I also sleep better when I take the time to appreciate my life and those around me.
These 6 nighttime habits have become ingrained in my evenings and have helped kick off my mornings. When I’m tired and don’t follow through with my routine, boy do I feel it. These habits are a must for me and my nights. Try adding one of these habits to your nighttime routine and see what it does for you. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get hooked on making time for self-care, a good night’s sleep, and stress free mornings!