Does your marriage suffer because by the time the kids are in bed, you’re just exhausted?
Today Jessica from Life as Mom and I are switching places to blog on this theme! Jessica writes amazing stuff about how to get organized and how to get your priorities straight, so I asked her to come on over to To Love, Honor and Vacuum and give us some pointers on how to stop feeling so exhausted at night–how we can put new habits in place earlier in the day so that we’d have more energy later.
And I’m joining her on Life As Mom on 5 Ways to Make that Transition from “Mom” to “Wife” at night!
Today’s the day to make a change. No longer will you drag your weary body to bed, exhausted and stressed. No longer will you be the only one to clean up after dinner, or worse, be the one to wake up to a sink full of dirty dishes. No longer will you be too strung out to enjoy time with your husband after the kids go to bed.
It’s true that family life is busy and sometimes hectic, but it doesn’t have to be! In fact, with a few simplifications, you can enjoy some downtime in the evenings, like a normal person.
Okay, it might not all happen in one night, but if you dedicate yourself to taking charge of your evenings, you can make them less hectic and so much more enjoyable.
10 Ways to Make Your Evenings Less Hectic
1. Know what’s on the schedule.
Whether it’s hockey practice, the big game that your husband does not want to miss, or simply your family’s favorite TV show, know what’s on the schedule so that you aren’t surprised when someone says he needs to be carted somewhere, resists coming to the dinner table, or balks about an early bedtime. The “with-it” wife and mom can avoid so many hassles when she knows what’s on her people’s schedule.
Take a peek at tomorrow am, too. What will you need to prepare for the next day? No one wants to be reminded of snack day or a science fair or baked goods for the office, as she’s tucking the kids in bed or slipping into the tub.
2. Have a plan.
Have a plan for your evening. And yes, it’s even okay to map out a little schedule. Since the time change, the minutes just seem to FLY by and we’re all going to bed later than we should.
Know what you want to do tonight to make the most of family time without wreaking havoc on your house or your mood.
3. Start earlier than you think it will take.
Whether it’s homework, housework, or getting dinner on the table, start early. So often we put off what we can do now, thinking we have plenty of time. Later we feel rushed. Start early and be ahead of the game!
4. Plan — and prep — your meal in advance.
Meal planning is a big part of how I keep my cool, feeding a large family. Don’t shrug it off. Everyone meal plans. It’s just that some of us meal plan while we’re in the drive-through line. Plan and even prep tonight’s dinner at least a few hours in advance. If you are struggling to even get a plan for dinner, try a ready to cook meal service like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, or Plated, where the meals can take as little as 20 minutes to put together. You’ll be surprised at how much heat it can take off.
5. Practice freezer cooking.
Want to chill out even more? Spend a few hours on a weekend and fill your freezer with some premade meals. A full freezer is a beautiful thing, especially when it means you don’t have to worry what’s for dinner or even have to make it.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t even need to invest hours of time. My current favorite method is to double (or triple) dinner every night for a week or two. In no time, I have the freezer full and can take a night off cooking whenever I like.
6. Do a quick tidy up — in the afternoon.
Household management books are rife with the suggestion to do a quick tidy before bedtime so you can start the day more easily. You and I both know we’d rather spend that bedtime time doing more interesting things than picking up toys and vacuuming.
Involve your family in an Afternoon High Five, five tasks that they do every afternoon. You get to decide on the tasks. The important part is that the heavy lifting in terms of cleaning and tidying get done before dinner. In this way, everyone can enjoy those final hours before bed, and YOU won’t be the one burning the midnight oil cleaning up after everyone else.
7. Take a nap.
For years, I shunned naps, claiming I didn’t have an extra 3 hours to invest in daytime sleeping. Learning about the power nap was a game changer. A 20-minute snooze is more invigorating than a cup of coffee and gives me energy to tackle the evening routine as well as enjoy time with my husband.
8. Divide and conquer.
We moms sometimes play the martyr card a little too often. I have to do this all myself, you think. No, no, you don’t. Ask your husband and/or older children to help with the household tasks that need to be done each evening: dinner prep, dinner clean up, finishing up laundry, taking out the trash, etc.
No mom is an island. But, no one can read your mind, either. Be specific about what you’d like help on.
9. Help your kids relax.
Kids who are stressed or riled up will have a harder time sleeping, let alone go quietly when it’s bedtime. Find ways to set a relaxing tone for your family: play quiet music, light candles, turn on the diffuser with some essential oils, enforce a device curfew, read stories.
Taking a few minutes to talk to each of your kids in a relaxed, hey-how-are-you-way, is not only a valuable investment in your relationship, but it’s also a great way to get everyone settled for the evening.
10. Find a way for YOU to wind down.
The life as mom is filled to the brim with good things and lots of activity. It can be hard to switch off the brain at night as it buzzes with all there is do tomorrow or the next day or the next. Yet, motherhood is kinda like self-employment. There’s ALWAYS more to do. We have to take time off intentionally because “free time” isn’t going to miraculously appear.
Time for some self-care, sister. Find ways that help you relax in the evening: drink a glass of wine while preparing dinner, take a bubble bath, trade your devices for a good old fashioned paperback, ask your husband for a massage. All these lead to a more relaxed you, a happier you, and most assuredly, a less hectic evening.
Do you suffer from exhaustion at night? Let me know what’s your best tip to stop feeling so exhausted when night time comes!
Jessica Fisher is a cookbook author and freelance writer, specializing in food and family. She writes about life, liberty, and the pursuit of a clean house at Life as Mom, and shares delicious ways to act your wage at Good Cheap Eats.
Get her free organizing ebook, Organization for Normal People, here.