Once upon a time, not long after my kids were born, I was what one might call a “morning person”. Up by 6am, breakfasts made, diapers changed, birds singing as the chores were finished. All was well in my morning routine.
This went happily on for years until I began to grow tired. Something felt… off.
I felt that I was not present with my kids and that we were struggling to connect as I was too tired to keep up with them. I became a grumpy mom who wanted to sleep in. What happened to my blissful morning routine?
I realized that it was not that my morning routine that had changed but my slow evening had changed as well.
I was no longer spending time reading a book and slowing down before going to bed. I was folding laundry, doing dishes, or frantically searching for a clean school uniform for the next day.
I was not slowing down and connecting with my husband and asking about his day. I was working myself to the bones. I went to sleep tired and I woke up feeling even worse.
My search for answers started when a friend mentioned she was struggling with the same “burnt out” feeling. I realized that I was on the same routine as many other mothers, even those with different schedules. This is when I began to suspect my evening routine might play a bigger role in my stress than I thought.
Was there a better way of using my time once kids were in bed? Could I change my evening routine to help me feel better in the morning as well?
After some research, I knew there were few things that could do to slow down my evening routine. I could add some slow moments to calm me to get a good night’s sleep.
These five points helped me to slow down my evenings to start my day full of energy.
1. Do Not Fall Asleep at the Same Time as Your Kids
This had become my habit. I was too tired to function and I’d call it quits right after evening storytime. I realized that this was my worst mistake. My body clock was mimicking the kid’s body clock. But when I fall asleep at 8 pm I did not sleep until 6 am like my sons. I woke up 4 am and was unable to sleep longer.
I pushed back my going to sleep time until 9 or 10 pm. This made is easier to sleep later and have some of my own time in the evening.
2. Break Away When Possible
Instead of struggling with my boys, I started to feel happy to read to them. Then I’d leave the room to let them settle to sleep on their own. We had always been in their room waiting for them to go to sleep but we were now breaking away from this habit.
Our kids were old enough to go to sleep on their own. They resisted first but they agreed in the end.
3. Push Back Your Breakfast Time
Instead of eating at the same time, I’d have my kids eat breakfast around 6:30 am I started to have mine around 9 am. The breakfast might be eaten on the go, but I felt that I was in control of my routine and when I was eating.
This pushed lunch and dinner later as well. But it helped to bring clarity that kids’ meal times were still slightly different to adults. And there was nothing wrong with it. Eating later with my husband, we got to talk and have conversations without interruptions.
4. Limit or Schedule Your Social Media Usage
I found that I was using social media as a means of escape. When my life felt too busy or overwhelming I would try to force a break for myself by scrolling through Facebook. I thought I was pressing pause on my day, when in reality I was prolonging the inevitable by pushing back my responsibilities, causing myself more stress overall. Now I limit my social media usage to twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. That way I am able to destress while knowing that my responsibilities are still going to be taken care of on time.
5. Go to Sleep With a Book
This was hands-down the best thing I did. I unplugged and read a book instead of trying to catch up on recent developments in Facebook. I was able to unplug and slow down before falling to a good night’s sleep.
This new slow evening routine has worked and made me a more confident and happy mother and wife.
I have been able to keep my new routine ticking on the past few months. Even when things change with life and pandemic restrictions I am feeling better. I am more energized every morning I wake up.
Having a full night’s sleep and being able to concentrate on the following day has been life-changing. I am full of purpose and intention and ready to be the best mom and wife for the day.
About the Author: Susanna Heiskanen is a Nordic mum of two living in Australia. Writing and podcasting about the Nordic life and how to live more with less. Find her at thenordicmum.com.