I feel like in order to have a good day the next day, it starts the night before- cliché I know, but somewhat true. A couple years back I started experiencing some really bad chronic back pain that really started to affect me in ways that I didn’t really understand. This really affected my sleep, which then affected my morning, the next day, and then a cycle was born. A couple weeks into physical therapy I completely overhauled and shifted my evenings to try and help develop a better sleeping habit. For me, sleep is a big chunk of my attitude and approach to the day in a way that I didn’t recognize prior to working through my chronic pain.
A couple of things….
This is what I’ve found works best for me. It allows me to calm both my body and my mind, both of which will hold tension and thoughts all night if I let them. This is also something that will apply year-round, although the time of evening might change come Summer. The basic concept and order of events stays the same, meaning my evening routine will always be about an hour and a half before I’m ready to read and then lay my head down. So, basically in the summer I will do this routine and then maybe pop outside and read out there until I’m ready for bed or what not. This is just what I need to do to get into that bedtime calmness.
So, my “evening” technically begins around 7:30PM when I put the kettle on, turn off anything on my phone that deals with “words” (I used to listen to podcasts as I cleaned in the evening and got ready for bed, but I found that that didn’t end up being very “relaxing”). I’ll turn on a classical music playlist on Spotify and start to do the dishes while the kettle is boiling. I pour an evening cup of tea- I swear by the Twining’s Nightly Calm- and will nurse it over while I tidy up the kitchen, wiping down all the counters, sweeping the floor and then a quick Swiffer. Once I finish in the kitchen it is usually time for the boys to start cleaning up their toys and getting ready for bed.
I’m very lucky in the fact that, when he’s home, my husband will do most of the boy’s night routine. It’s kind of become his time with them (though there’s a lot of back and forth about cleaning typically ha-ha) and I’m happy to leave that to him. I continue to nurse the evening tea as I help the boys tidy up their toys (this is usually just pushing the boxes back where they belong and putting the couches and blankets back where they belong). Usually by the time this is done I’ve finished my tea and I’ll clean the mug up, turn all the lights off downstairs and head upstairs.
I’ve still got the classical music playing in my ears as I head into the bathroom to take my makeup off, wash my face, and brush my teeth. During this time the boys are getting a bath (if Robert is not home, I’ll put off washing my face until after bedtime so as to handle the boy’s bedtime). I’ll admit, it took me a long time to get the good habit of washing my face every night. My skin tends to be fairly normal, no major breakouts, and most of the time it absorbs moisture very well. I would always take my make up off, but I’ve found that beyond the good benefits of skincare, it also just continues that feeling of “the day has ended”. Sometimes your body and mind really need the physical reminders to start shutting down.
So, wash my face, brush my teeth, then moisturize my hands- this is a necessity especially in winter when my hands crack.
On school nights the boys are in bed by 8:30PM (weekends tend to be anywhere from 8:30-10:00PM depending on what we’re doing- the later time being rare). Starting at 9:00PM my phone is put away and not touched again. I’ve always had the do not disturb option come on at 9:00PM, but I’ve been guilty of continuing to peruse social media or whatever until the second bedtime. No more. Looking at my phone, at all the “things” just makes my mind light up again and it’s hard to come back from that. So, phone up and away, and that includes the classical music playlist that I had going. It’s all done and gone.
Once kids are in bed, in winter at least, I’ll crawl into bed and do some reading for about an hour until I turn the reading lamp off and go to sleep around 10:30PM. I’m not sure how this will change in the summer- I’m sure I’ll be sipping on my tea outside or downstairs with my book and soaking up the last of the light much later into the night.
And that’s it! Seriously so simple and full of “obvious” duh things, but we often forget or miss out. This honestly has truly changed how I sleep and how I feel when I wake up the next morning, which in turn has been a game changer across the board.