How to create an evening routine to set your morning up for success

how to create an evening routine
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Morning chaos is real. We are trying to get some type of even semi-nutritious food into ourselves and the kids, get dressed, gather the items we need for the day, and get out the door on time. I don’t have the stress of needing to get myself to work but getting three of the kids out the door and into the car on time is crazy enough!

Even with a solid morning routine that we’ve had for years we still run into snags because of well, life. Breakfast takes longer to cook than expected. Or it takes longer for certain people to eat. The kids don’t mention they needed fruit cut up for their lunches until you are ready to walk out the door. The temp plummeted overnight and better winter gear is needed. The shoes that were in the closet are now missing. You know, life.

If there is one thing our mornings have taught me it’s that a good morning will always begin the night before. It’s nearly impossible to have a successful morning if you don’t do anything to prep ahead of time. It doesn’t need to be anything extensive or take lots of extra time. A good evening routine is about a few simple steps to help your mornings start on the best foot possible!

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what to include in an evening routine

These are the tasks that make the biggest impact on my next day. I can sometimes skip out on the last few, but then I notice my sleep is affected because my brain is working overtime. If I skip the first few, then we are rushed and frazzled the next day.

Do I get every single one of these checked off every single day? No. I’m not a supermom that has all her ducks in a row. I’m learning what helps me the best and trying to improve as I go. Make progress, don’t shoot for perfection.

The best part of a good evening routine? It should only take about 30 min once you get into the habit. Occasionally it will take longer depending on the state of the kitchen but most of these tasks only take a few minutes. My goal each day is to be done with my routine by 8pm so I can enjoy the remainder of the evening without all sorts of thoughts about the next day swirling around in my head. I want to be present in the moment, not worrying about the next day.

6 parts of an evening routine to set your morning up for success

Clean up dinner

Waking up to a dirty kitchen from the night before will leave you feeling behind before you even get started! If you aren’t used to doing the dishes every night this might take a bit to make a habit (I still fall off the wagon) but the benefit is so worth the extra 10-15 minutes. Put away leftover food, wipe down the table, and rinse off the dishes. If you can start the dishwasher, awesome! If not, no worries, just load it up and wait until you have enough.

Because of our chore system, I often have a child tasked with dishes or kitchen help to assist me in getting everything cleaned up and put away before starting their own bedtime routine.

Make lunches for next day

Our kids pack their own lunches after school but if your family is in activities or you don’t get home until later you will want to get them made now. While you are cleaning up dinner they can make sandwiches and pack their bags. You can see how we taught our kids to make their own school lunches in this post.

Have a breakfast planned

I have a breakfast rotation that makes planning breakfasts easier. Mondays are breakfast bowls, Tuesdays are oatmeal, Wednesdays are pancakes or waffles, Thursdays are an egg based dish, and Fridays are bread and eggs. This eliminates a scramble to plan each day. Occasionally I can prep breakfast the night before, like in the case of pancake mix or baked oatmeal, but typically I just need to know what I’m making.

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Set out clothing

evening routine with kids

I don’t set out clothing for any of my kids because they are both old enough to pick things out for themselves as well as strong willed enough that they wouldn’t wear anything I chose anyway! If your kids are younger or need certain clothing for the day setting them out the day before can help eliminate a morning task.

I don’t set up my regular clothes for the next day, but my workout clothes instead. As soon as I put my feet on the floor I put on my workout gear, then top them with pjs. I don’t get my workout in until after the kids are at school but it takes out a step later and helps me get to my workout faster. Plus, if I’m already in my sports bra I may as well put it to good use!

Now that I’ve started getting dressed every day (after working out and showering) I do try and have an outfit ready or at least in mind. Using outfit formulas has really helped streamline this process!

Brain dump

As moms we all have those nights when we lie in bed thinking about everything that needs to get done the next day. We run over lists, think about our to-dos, practice phone calls or emails, and severely cut into our sleep. Can you relate?

Before you are in bed grab your planner, open the note app on your phone, or choose a notebook to become your external brain. Dump it all out. Everything that is swirling around in your brain about class lists, baking ideas, chores you ignored, phone calls that need to be made, business ideas, whatever - dump it all out. By getting it out of your head and on to something tangible you don’t risk forgetting it overnight and you can prioritize what is important from the fluff.

Choose top three tasks

We can’t do it all every day. It’s impossible. What is more important tomorrow: baking cookies for Saturday’s bake sale or scrubbing the toilet before company comes tomorrow night? Categorizing your recipes or calling the doctor to make check-up appointments for the kids?

We frequently choose easier or more pleasant tasks over the important work that needs to get done and then feel overwhelmed when we try to pack it all in at once. Choose the top three that either 1) need to get done because they have a close deadline or 2) will make the biggest impact when finished.

Once you’ve chosen your top three you could also make a “want to do” list with other tasks or ideas that you can work on if you have the time, but can easily be moved to another day. Having a homemaking routine can help you organize your to-do list and has definitely helped me stopped feeling like a squirrel running from task to task in the house!

What to remember when creating an evening routine

family evening routine

It takes time to become a habit

Habits can take about three weeks to form, and that’s only if you are doing them every single day. Even then, it’s still easy to fall off the wagon. Don’t expect perfection as soon as you create an evening routine. Take it day by day and understand there will be days when it doesn’t all happen.

It’s okay if you need to change things up

There might be parts of my evening routine advice that simply don’t work for you. Totally fine! I’m not here to tell you how to do things exactly, but instead spark ideas for creating systems for your own family. If you have been trying the same routine for a while and the same snags keep happening, then it might be time to evaluate where things aren’t working and find a different solution.

Give yourself grace

Again, it’s not going to be perfect every night. And even with a perfect evening routine there will still be mornings that go off the rails. Take a breath, say a prayer, and try again. Give yourself (and the family) grace when things don’t go as planned and keep taking it day by day.


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What does your evening routine look like? What tips do you have for others?

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perfect evening routine