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What to do once the kids are asleep

From 8am to midnight, I feel like a race car going 70 mph. The only time I can slow down is to fill up for coffee. And then it’s right back on the racetrack for another fifty laps. I have way too much on my plate and I know that. Yet they are all important things— spending quality time with my family, growing my businesses, helping with our church plant, spending time with my friends, and making healthy meals, and so on. I love all these things, but I am completely exhausted. And I just don’t know how to force myself to slow down and breathe.

Then I started reading my first e-Book this week called One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider from Simple Mom. In this book, Tsh has compiled 52 ideas for simplifying life and it called out to me. I already ditched the TV seven years ago, which has helped us fill our time with creative and productive things. Yet now I wonder if I have overfilled my life. And if so, what can I do about it?

Idea #4 from One Bite at a Time is about establishing an evening routine. I already nailed the bedtime routine with the kids, but my evening routine with me and my husband needs some work. Lots of work, actually. It goes something like this: kids fall asleep, I eat a snack and grab some water, head up to my office and work until the wee hours of the night. The quietest, most intimate part of the entire day is not spent with my husband, but rather my 27-inch iMac. I am over it and ready for a change. This is when Tsh comes in and speaks to me about an evening routine. She didn’t speak directly to me, but it sure felt like it when I read her words.

When you bookend your days with a simple routine, they’ll feel less chaotic, and you’ll be more in control. These routines will be a salve to your soul. —Tsh

So yesterday, I announced to my family that I will not be on my computer past 7pm at night. This means whatever design projects or blogging I need to do will have to wait until the morning.

What I will do instead with that precious slice of time is:

— write my to-do list for tomorrow (I usually do this midway through the day when I get overwhelmed)
— take a shower (I should really do this more, so I am very happy about having this on my list)
— clean the kitchen (like disinfect the counters and mop the floor)
— read my Bible (I have been a pretty sad example of a pastor’s wife these last few months)
— spend time with my husband (board games, talking, praying together, and just reconnecting)

I am saying good bye to super late nights and cranky mornings. Is it gonna be easy?  Absolutely not! But I am ready for the challenge. My exhausted body and mind need this challenge. And my family needs it. I am ready to fall asleep with my husband and wake up before my children pounce on me. I am ready to reconnect with myself and my family. And I think my new evening routine is the beginning of making this a reality.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

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12 Responses to What to do once the kids are asleep

  1. Jadah Sellner February 8, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    I do try to have 1 to 3 hot bubble baths per week. I have Pandora, candles and incense every time for my “me time.” I would love to unplug completely after Zoe’s bedtime, but I feel that’s the only time I can get long stretches of work done where I can focus without frequent interruptions. Please let me know how this experiment works out for you. Maybe there’s a balance. 3 nights per week mommy office hours. 3 nights per week connecting with yourself and your husband. 1 night of pure rest.

    • familysponge February 8, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      I agree about the night being the only time to really get things done. That’s what I have always done and I am productive at night. My new plan is to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. Last night I crashed around 10:15 and woke up at 6:15. I was able to work from 6:30-7:30 uninterrupted and then do another hour while the kids played quietly in their rooms. I would love to be able to wake up at 5:30 and get much more done, but that will take some time. —Jen

  2. Laura February 9, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I have decided that my evening routine needs a makeover too!! I am so tired at night that one of two things happen- I fall asleep in my work clothes in Anthony’s bed after I read him stories and wake up the next morning feeling like I didn’t get any rest, or I drag myself onto my computer to get school work done and stare bleary eyed late into the evening. First of all I think I need to start Anthony’s routine a little earlier so he gets a bit more rest and so I might have a fighting chance to stay awake after he falls asleep. I need to work some self care into the evening…I like the bubble bath and candle idea, Jadah! I am also going to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. For awhile I was doing a short meditation and stretching or yoga in the quiet morning hours….it was so lovely…but it didn’t stick (probably because I was going to bed late and still tired and then rushed in the morning!) It’s good to make positive changes in our rhythms and routines!

    • Jadah Sellner February 10, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      I fall asleep in my day clothes all too often. Laura, what meditation did you do? I really want to start.

      • Laura February 17, 2012 at 9:23 am #

        I’m a beginner meditator 🙂 What I have been doing is sitting in a quiet room, taking slow, purposeful breaths and focusing on one image or thinking of a mantra. I notice that my mind wanders very easily!!

  3. Jasmine Carr-Edmond February 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    The challenge of a healthy bedtime routine for myself seems ongoing as of late. Similar to the previos poster, I find myself falling asleep in my daytime clothes after I put Aubrey down for the night and waking up around 4 am completely bummed that I was unable to take advantage of my toddler-free hours of the evening. When I stick to my desired routine I’m able to clean up, do laundry, pull out clothes for the next day, plan tomorrow’s activities and prepare snacks/lunch for the next days travels. I still find myself going to bed late so It definitely needs adjusting, but I love waking up in the morning and not having to worry about the aforementioned tasks. Ideally, my routine will consist of taking care of mommy business in the evening, 8 hours of sleep, early rising for me time (love the meditation idea) & getting dressed for the day and making breakfast all before my daughter wakes. I absolutely need to add a bubble bath or 2 into this routine.

    • Jadah Sellner February 10, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      So I think it’s agreed we need bubble baths, meditation and 8 hours of sleep. 🙂

    • familysponge February 10, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      I am on night #4 of my “new evening routine” and loving it. As hard as it is to shut off after 7pm, I am doing it and this forces me to do other things. I have showered, organized my closet (first time in my life I organized clothes by color), cleaned the bathrooms and been diligent with reading the Word. Today I had to wake up at 4:45am to make sure i had time to get my work done (like Giveaway #6) but I am going to sleep around 10pm so it isn’t too bad. I do prefer waking up and getting my to-do list done by 8am rather than waiting until 11pm to get it done. I am much more content during the day when I don’t have work looming over me. Looking forward to keeping it up! Let me know how it goes for you and if the bubble baths are working. Might have to squeeze those in some nights.

      —Jen

  4. Lynn Roberts February 15, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    This is a great idea! I too used to stay up late trying to get “one more thing” done. Now I am in bed most nights by 10 pm, read for a few minutes and lights out no later than 1030. I also get up at least 4 mornings a week at 530 am and do 45-60 minutes of yoga before my day starts. It is the most lovely thing to have the house be really quiet while I stretch and breath and prepare my body for the day.

    I’m lucky in that I work from home so can throw dinner in the oven and go back to my computer. I own a corporate yoga company and am also a professional network marketer helping others make a lot of money. I’d like to say I’m super busy but all in all, everything is pretty good.

    As for the getting up at 530 am part, it used to be a struggle, but if I get to bed early enough it’s fine. I’ve also found some health products that give me lots of energy and now I only need 6-7 hours of sleep and I’m up for the day. I’m a completely different person now!

    • familysponge February 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      What are the healthy products? I would love to hear about ways to gain more energy!

  5. familysponge February 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    It’s been two weeks since I started this new bedtime routine. As much as I love it, I must be honest and say it hasn’t stuck yet. Like right now it is 9:30pm and I am online. I just felt like I needed to close some projects down right now.

    I do believe that this new way is the right way— I feel much better and I am more productive when I stay off the computer at night and fire it up early in the morning. But it is hard to break a bad habit and I am just being honest about this challenge.

    I’ll continue to check in here and let you know how it is progressing. If you have any advice, I would looooove it. —Jen

  6. Ryan Joslin April 19, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

    Hi Jen, I just came across this thread and was wondering if you stuck with the early bed time. 🙂

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