Let’s be honest; evenings are crazily busy when you have a family. We often hear about the morning rush to school and commute to work, but I believe evenings are as stressful if not even more stressful than mornings. The problem is, at that exact moment we need some quiet time.
Everything happens in the evening. Your children come back with homework, projects, or even shopping to do for school. There are also afterschool activities that no family can ignore. Plus, you are literally exhausted by an already long day, and you have to clean what’s been used during the day and prepare dinner, not to mention the next day’s lunchbox.
Lunchboxes to me have always been the worst nightmare; it’s one thing too many to manage. But they also are the best benediction; my children can eat accordingly to their usual diet.
So, evenings are busy, stressful and a real struggle that happens 4 nights a week 9 months a year. We have to do something about them, so they become smoother and more manageable!
Simplicity is the key
I know that it’s my go-to answer to many problems, but I’m going to explain how simplicity, once more, can save your day.
As I mentioned, at 4:00 PM we already are exhausted. Our day started approximately 10 hours earlier, and if we were writing everything we did in these 10 hours, we would need several notebook pages. We can’t add much more at that point. Our brain simply won’t accept it; it will send you some warning messages; they are usually called “stress.”
Our must-dos at that time is already enough. We must have dinner ready. We must also make our children do their homework. I guess that if they are registered in some extra-curricular activities, these are must-dos too. But maybe you should consider sorting down for the next semester if you really feel it’s too much?
However, we don’t have to cook every night. We don’t have to commute our kids all the time to their activities; we can get organized and share that task with other Moms. Eventually, we don’t have to add up some extra work at home, thinking we can squeeze in a little something we wanted to do today when our children are doing their homework.
No decision making
Eliminating decision making from your evenings is a huge win. Meals can be planned, so we don’t have to decide on the spot what the dinner or next day lunch will be. Not to mention the stress we add thinking “do I have what I need in my pantry or fridge?” (add a horrified smiley here!)
When we plan, we lower the number of decisions we have to make in a day, not to mention at the busiest time of the day. Which is good, because decision making is a faculty we have in a limited amount, and it better not be used for daily tasks and must-dos.
Learn to consider your must-dos as must-dos. Don’t question them. If you can question them, then maybe you can simply forget about them, especially in the evening during the week.
We can simplify by getting organized.
I will go a bit further: plan and batch prepare your meals in advance. When you cook for one dinner, cook for two or three and freeze what you don’t use, so you have two other meals ready waiting for you.
Same for lunch boxes. Your children and husband won’t argue if they eat the same thing two or three days in a row. I batch prepare my lunches four at a time. I’m using two portions the first week, and two the week after. Between them, there is the weekend and I try to add a special lunch. A bit funnier, even if a little less healthy. This way my four identical meals don’t really appear all together.
Batch working is saving a lot of time at work; this idea works for meal prep too.
Focus on your children, then focus on yourself
When your children are out of school, they are here, so focus on them. That way you won’t have any useless additional stress if you can’t do anything more. My children are old enough to do their homework without my help. However, I always take time to have a snack with them. We chat and enjoy quiet time together before they do their homework. It’s good for them to have that break after their noisy day at school, it’s good for me to have that break because I lack some change in my daily schedule as I work from home.
Then, it’s essential for you to take time to focus on yourself. When your children are ready for bed, or in bed, the house is clean, and everything is ready for the next day. Focus on yourself. Don’t plan anything more right now, except if there’s an emergency. I know that some of you need this quiet time in the evening for your side hustle or your project. It’s ok because working on your project is time for yourself already.
Relaxing to increase your energy
But before you start, take time to relax. Go to the gym, or do some yoga, do your skin care, whatever it is. Have a quiet time just for yourself. Then, read for 15 minutes. If after that you have to work, then you are ready for more! However, don’t forget that your sleeping time is crucial. You can read my post about that here.
You had that break that allowed you to fill up your energy level a little bit so you can do some more before going to bed!
Choose only 3 things to do
During the evening, choose only three “long” tasks to do. You can’t do more obviously. Homework and commute to activities are one. Then dinner and chores are another. Then, you have one left. Don’t overdo it. You won’t be able to squeeze in 2 hours at the gym, 2 hours working and 1 hour of watching TV with your husband and have a good night sleep! There’s no way you will have a fresh start the next day. If you accumulate too much fatigue or too little sleep, your body will pay the price eventually.
Be mindful with your time.
Have some time to slow down
This point is almost the same as the one about having time for yourself. But in this one, I will underline the importance of slowing down before going to bed. If you don’t have that buffer time before going to bed, you won’t be able to have an effective sleep recovery. You must tell your brain that you are getting ready for your night. You can’t expect your brain to fall asleep in an effective way if you go directly from a stressful situation to your bed.
Relax, meditate, read a book. Listen to some soothing music. Chat with your partner, but avoid any digital activity at this point. The light coming from screens is made to keep your brain awake.
If you read a digital book, use the night mode so that the blue light won’t stimulate your brain.
If you really want to watch something, choose a movie you know well, so you won’t be tempted to stay awake at all cost because you don’t know the story. What’s important here, is to slow down. Your evening is busy and stressful; you have to block that time before going to bed to allow your body and brain to recover and enjoy a good night sleep.
By all means, your evenings are what you make of them. So be mindful of your time and what you want to do with it. You can’t add up indefinitely on your calendar, and just because it’s written, it doesn’t mean it will magically happen. Learn to say no, because sometimes, doing more is just impossible. Don’t underestimate the importance of slowing down in the evening too.
If you want to read more about getting organized: