A calming, familiar night-time routine is not only essential for kids, it’s also a simple way for mums to incorporate self-care into their days. I wrote about the benefits of having a calm morning routine here, and an evening routine can be just as helpful for tired, frazzled mums.
I am not a morning person, but in the evenings I have the time, space and energy to give back to myself. When the boys areasleep, or when my kind and supportive husband offers to get the kids to bed by himself, I use the time to nurture myself through simple actions that help me unwind before bed.
What to include in your night-time routine
Some things that help me to get into relaxation mode include:
- Meditation: Meditating at night is my favourite way of preparing for sleep. Listening to a short guided meditation in bed always helps me to fall asleep more easily, and I feel more rested when I wake up, guaranteed. The quality of my sleep greatly impacts on my level of patience and my ability to parent mindfully and from a place of joy. Translation: tired mummy = cranky mummy. Nightly meditation has literally changed my life, and my kid’s lives. You can read more about the brilliance of meditation here.
- Light exercise: In Summer, I love going for a walk after dinner. If it’s dark outside, unrolling my yoga mat and moving through some poses, or following along with a restorative yoga video like this one, is a blissful way to wind down before bed. I wrote about the ways to fit yoga into your life with kids here.
- Journalling: Scribbling down some words about the day that has just passed, the lessons learned, or my hopes for tomorrow is a cathartic way to end the day.
- Shower/bath: I find it much more relaxing to have a shower at night when the kids aren’t around. Having a shower or bubble bath before bed helps me to relax and wash away the day.
- Organise myself for the next day. Recently we had a very early start, so the night before I prepared “Overnight Oats” for myself and the boys for breakfast. This simple task helped me to sleep well, as I knew that I had one less thing to get done the next morning.
- Reading: One of my favourite ways to end the day is reading a fab book in bed. Right before I go to sleep I tend to steer clear of anything too heavy or scary (although I normally love a good psychological thriller – Gone Girl anyone?) Picking up an old favourite usually lulls me to sleep, or something funny or inspirational sets the tone for a night of sweet dreams.
A quick aside…
Before you think – “Wait a second lady, I don’t have time to do ALL THOSE THINGS before bed! And besides, I’m too tired to do anything other than collapse in front of the TV” – let me clarify. I don’t complete all of the above things every night – nowhere near it. In fact, my typical routine involves reading with a cuppa, a shower, pjs, and a guided meditation. It’s that simple, but boy does it make me feel nourished and supported.
Other things that you might like to try:
- Lighting a candle
- Wearing your best pair of pjs and hoping into a freshly-made bed
- Simple breathing exercises
- Self-massage with a pretty scented body lotion
- Say a prayer or think about the things that you are grateful for
- Cuddles with your partner
- Tea – calming blends include chamomile or lavender, or you can buy a ‘sleep-time’ blend, such as this one.
- A hot bath, with Epsom salts for detoxifying, or a few drops of lavender oil for pure calm and relaxation.
- Listening to calming music. Search Spotify for a relaxation playlist.
- Turn off the telly and have a good chat with a friend or your partner.
- Gazing at your sleeping children – because they’re so damn cute and angelic when they’re asleep!
Keep it simple. It shouldn’t be a chore.
Start by choosing one or two activities that most resonate with you. Pick things that you enjoy, and that won’t feel like a chore. You don’t want your evening routine to be just another thing that you feel like you ‘should’ be doing. Keep it fun and relaxing.
What to avoid before bed
There are some things that I try to avoid while I’m winding down for bed. These include:
- I try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bed.
- I switch off the notifications on my phone. This is a big one for me. It’s impossible to relax if Facebook is constantly trying to get my attention.
- I try to avoid high intensity exercise in the evenings.
- Caffeine before bed can wreak havoc with your sleep routine. I normally limit my coffee intake to one quality cup per day, and I rarely drink it after 2pm. In the afternoon I switch over to caffeine-free herbal tea.
Listen to your body and your heart
What do you really need tonight? Use your intuition.
Do whatever feels right at that moment. Once the kids are asleep, ask yourself “What will truly help me tonight?” and then do that! And if some nights the answer is “Just go to sleep”, make sure you listen to that voice, and go. to. bed.
There’s no need to do the same things each night, if that doesn’t work for you.
It isn’t what you do, but the fact that you are giving some time to yourself, that really matters.
Do you have a night-time routine?
What one thing can you commit to doing for yourself before you go to sleep tonight? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo