How to Create an Evening Routine for You and Your Family!

How to Create An Evening Routine
Image adapted from Flickr/ tallkev

One of the best ways to feel organized as a mom is to have in place a set of routines for the morning, afternoon, and evening. When you have these routines in place for yourself as well as for your family, it becomes so much easier to get the things done that you'd like to accomplish–prepare healthy meals, get ready quickly and easily so as to get out the door on time, keep an orderly home, get the kids to bed at a reasonable time with minimal fuss, etc.

I've shared with you my ideas on how to create a morning routine before, so now I would like to give you some tips on how to create an evening routine–one that gets your family settled in for the night and prepares you for the next day.

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Image via Flickr/ adactio

Step 1: Clean Up the Kitchen

Our evening routine begins when the kids finish eating their dinner, and it starts with cleaning up the kitchen. When you are a parent of a baby or toddler, quite a bit of this task falls on you. But if you can keep them happy with an after-dinner treat of fruit while you quickly rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher, and wipe down the countertops, you'll be so much happier to walk into your kitchen the next morning!

{ MORE: Pick 3 For a Perfect Bedtime Routine }

But if your kids are preschoolers and older, they should be part of the kitchen cleanup. At our house, all of the children need to clear their own plates, scrape them, rinse them, and put them into the dishwasher. They also need to help out with some of the general kitchen clean up, too. So each night, we rotate through the kitchen clean-up chores. While my younger children mainly help with things like setting the table, the older ones take turns helping to clear, rinse, and load the serving plates, pack up the leftovers, and wipe down the table and counter tops.

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Image via Flickr/ Rubbermaid Products

Step 2: Prep for the Next Day

After the kitchen is cleaned up from dinner, it's time to make sure that all homework, permission slips, library books, band instruments, etc. are packed up in the backpacks and ready to go. For moms taking little ones to daycare or preschool in the morning, this is the time to prep bottles, meals, and snacks and to make sure the diaper bag is packed and ready to go in the morning.

For moms of school-aged kids, prep as much as you can for lunches and snack bags for the next day. I usually fill their water bottles, pack their snacks, and prepare any lunch sides such as cut-up fruit and trail mix the night before. In the morning, I only need to add the sandwich or hot dish to the lunch bag before placing their lunch into their backpack–so much easier than starting from square one in the morning!

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Image via Flickr/ davitydave

Step 3: Pick Up Around the House

I've tried the fancy chore charts, assigning kids to rooms and having them pick up what doesn't belong and return it to its rightful place, but I find that this system doesn't work well at our house. (My kids tend to ignore out-of-place items that don't belong to them!) So instead, picking up around the house usually looks like this: I spend a few minutes going from room to room and calling out kids' names as I find things in those rooms that they individually left behind. I give them a minute or two to come and collect them and put them away, and if they don't respond, they lose TV privileges before bedtime.

{ MORE: C'mon, Kids, Let's Try Sleeping at the Same Time! }

When I reach their bedrooms, I double check that they have straightened up in there as well (and not just dumped everything they just collected from throughout the house somewhere on the floor!). I don't expect my house to look like something out of a magazine, but if I know that my kids put away their books, papers, and shoes into their rightful homes, it will be soooo much easier to get out of the door the next morning!

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Image via Flickr/ KingTyrone

Step 4: Get Ready for Bed

Once the chores are done, I ask the kids to brush their teeth and get their jammies on, or, if it is their bath/shower night, to get everything into the bathroom and start their showers. (This is a topic for another post, but in our house, not all children get baths and showers every night.) While this whole process is going on, I am helping kids pick out their clothes for the next day, asking them to select their books for that evening's reading time, coaxing some children to finish up their homework at the desks in their rooms, and generally urging everyone to move along and finish up.

With younger kids, it helps to put together a picture chart that shows them all of the steps you would like for them to follow, such as brushing teeth and donning their PJs and picking out a book. I suggest ending with a picture of a clock showing them what time is story time (perhaps 10 minutes before bedtime). Once they understand the chart, tell them that if they get everything done by that time, you'll read to/with them until bedtime. Otherwise, story time gets a little shorter.

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Image via Flickr/ woodleywonderworks

Step 5: A Little One-On-One Time

Now comes the tricky part of the evening–where I strive to give each child some one-on-one time, reading to them from the book that they have selected or listening to them as they read to me. My husband and I usually start with the younger two in their own rooms, read to them individually, have them make one last trip to the potty, tuck them in, and maybe chat for a few minutes more. When they were younger, I had a little tradition that I liked to do–singing to them each night before I kissed them good night.

Then my husband and I will sit with the next two kids in our room (who share bedrooms with the younger ones, but have slightly later bedtimes) and have them read to us. And then we like to leave a little time to read a chapter of another book aloud to them, chat for a moment, and then send them off to bed. And finally we wrap up with the oldest two, who have usually finished their own reading homework before now, so we just hang out and chat about their day and what is going on. My oldest son, who has the latest bedtime, will often grab his book again and read with me in my room until it is time for him to go to bed. I think this quiet, wind-down, reading, chatting, and singing time is so very important to keeping us all connected with one another.

{ MORE: Sweet Routines: Moms Share Their Bedtime Routines }

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How is your evening routine working for you these days?

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How to Create an Evening Routine for You and Your Family!

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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