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You have probably heard about evening routines, but you may not be exactly sure what everyone is talking about when it comes to evening routines.  An evening routine is what you do in between getting off work and bedtime.

An evening routine is the best routine to start with if you are new to routines.  An evening routine is the secret sauce to setting your next day up with success.

It can be the difference between you waking up stressed and anxious and you waking up refreshed and ready to take on the day.  It can start your next day ready to take on the world.

We will discuss why you should start an evening routine, obstacles people face with evening routines, ideas for evening routines, how to start your personalized evening routine, and tips for success.

Why you should start an evening routine


  • Lower stress levels. Evening routines can lead to lower stress levels because you are ready to take on the next day.  You already know what you are going to do, what you are going to eat for dinner, if anyone has an appointment, etc.  It puts you ahead of the curve and takes you out of reactive mode in the morning.
  • Better night’s sleep. You get a better night’s sleep because you know you are ready to take on the day when you wake up in the morning. You laid the groundwork the evening before, so no waking up at midnight with worry and adding things to your to-do list.
  • Your children thrive on routines. Yes, it is true. Children thrive on routines (especially children with sensory processing disorder or other medical conditions that make them reluctant for a change). They love knowing what is coming next.  They also can help you and do things without prompting them because they always do them in the same order.  Routines help children reduce anxiety, learn independence and confidence, and regulate energy levels (great for sleep).
  • Helps children build executive function skills. A quick definition for executive function skills: Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.

Ex: My two-year-old son knows when he is finished with dinner, he has to empty his plate in the garbage can and put his empty plate into the sink.  It’s not a surprise, he knows it’s coming and most of the time does it without prompting.

  • Puts your brain on autopilot. We make 35,000 decisions a day. When you have routines in place, your brain can do them without using a lot of mental energy while trying to figure out what to do.  You see, people don’t start routines because they think they are too hard or complicated, but in reality, it is harder NOT to do routines.  You use up so much brainpower, things fall through the cracks, and you are constantly in reactive mode.  Routines are the secret sauce to home management.

Obstacles people face with their evening routines


  • Starting too many new things at one time. You cannot be successful if you start too many new things at one time. You have to start with one or two small things and get used to doing them, THEN add more items.

Don’t let that stop you though, you probably are already doing parts of the evening routine without even knowing it.  You may just need to tweak it a little bit and add on a couple of items.

  • Too complicated. This has to be replicable. You cannot go from not having a structured evening routine to doing a 10-step nightly routine.  It won’t happen.  I have tried it and failed.  A little at a time.

Don’t worry, you have your whole life to get up to a 10-step skincare routine if that’s what you want, BUT you will never be successful with starting off with that. Start with two or three steps in your routine and then add on as you get in the habit of it.

  • Having a perfectionistic all or nothing mentality and don’t try. Perfectionism will NOT get you anywhere. I know, I used to be one.  You cannot have an all or nothing mentality.  I love the Rachel Hollis quote, “You have to be humble enough to suck for as long as it takes you to be better”.

Think about a child learning how to walk.  They don’t just try to get up and walk and fall to the ground, smack their face and then say, “Umm walking isn’t for me, no thanks”!  NOPE.  They just keep going.  They learn to fall and get back up.  They suck at first, but then in no time, they graduate from falling to walking, and then on to running.

An all or nothing mentality will not work if you are trying to get out of survival mode.

  • Thinking it takes too much time. It takes longer and more brainpower to not have your stuff together and live in reactive mode and forget things all the time. THAT’s what’s stealing your time, not starting routines.
  • Using the excuse But, I’m too tired. Um no you’re not. It will take repetition and commitment to do it, but it will give you way more energy by not constantly thinking about what to do next or what did I forget.
  • You don’t plan it. You have to actually plan it and do it.  No one is going to come over to your house and do it for you.  YOU have to plan it and take action.

Ideas for evening routines:


Now, here is a list of ideas for evening routines, BUT you are going to make it personalized to you.  There isn’t a one-size-fits-all or a magic bullet.  You have to find out what fits your family and your current lifestyle.

If your child is in and out of the hospital having surgeries or some big medical issues you’re working on, then maybe you need to take your skincare routine from 6 steps to 3.  Maybe you take your makeup from 10 products to 6.

Just because you are making an adjustment and doing a little less now, does not mean you can’t add the steps back later.  You just have bigger priorities right now, and that’s okay.


  • Straighten up the house
  • No dirty dishes in the sink
  • Look at your calendar for the next day
  • Children’s bedtime routine- LINK TO POST
  • Silent your phone before bed
  • Layout your clothes and your kid’s clothes for the next day
  • Wash your face and do a skincare routine
  • Shower (or in the AM if that’s your jam)
  • Put equipment, backpacks, etc in the car for your next day.
  • Fill out a gratitude journal
  • Have an actual bedtime
  • Get your children’s backpacks and lunches made for the next day
  • Homework
  • Kid’s chores (like picking up toys, etc.)
  • Read a book
  • Devotional (or in AM)
  • Read a book
  • Don’t turn on the TV (try weekends only)
  • Put up the phone at a certain time

How to start an evening routine:


1. Evaluate what you are doing now.

Figure out what you are doing now.  Take out a notebook and write down exactly what you are doing when you get home from work and before bed.  This isn’t to judge yourself.  This is to figure out what you are doing.  I bet you are doing some elements of an evening routine already.

2. Evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.

That list you just made in step 1, go through it with a fine-tooth comb and figure out what is working and what isn’t.  What are your struggles?  Is it homework?  Is it dinner?  What are your strengths?  What do you love about what you are doing? What is really going on?  Deep dive and figure it out.

3. Plan out elements of your ideal evening.

If you could dream for just a minute, what would your ideal evening look like? Don’t just think about your family, think about yourself too.  What would a few minutes of self-care look like for you each evening?  Make a list of things you would like to do.

4. Outline your ideal evening.

Think of this as a rough draft.  You can make changes.  Routines change with your season of life.  They are changeable.  They are not set in stone.

Just look at the list you made in step 3 and plan which items you would like to do each evening and put them in order.

TIP: Keep in mind to try to do activities when your family wants to do them.  For example, your children might be really alert and able to do homework right away, for other children, your child might need a 30-minute free-time break before starting on homework.

5. Practice and evaluate.

Practice your routine for a week and see how it goes.  Keep in mind, if you are adding anything new, take it slow.  It takes a while to implement a new habit, and you don’t want to implement too many at one time.

Evaluate with an open mind, kindness, and compassion.  You don’t need to beat yourself up on this step.  If something isn’t working for you, just change it or see why isn’t it working and solve that?

Maybe you need to move homework up by 20 minutes or bedtime back by 30 minutes.  Just evaluate, practice, and keep doing it until you get an evening routine you can replicate each day.

Tips for Success


  • This is YOUR routine, not mine, not anyone else’s. Yours and only yours. Cater to yourself.  You can get ideas from other people, from Pinterest, from my list, but ultimately, it is your routine and needs to work for you and your season of life.  There is not a one-size-fits-all or a magic bullet routine for everyone.  It has to be personalized to work, that’s the key.
  • Start a few new things at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself and set yourself up for failure.  Note: if you were already doing the things before you started implementing the new routines, they don’t count as new even if you change up the time, because you were already used doing them.
  • Don’t beat yourself up with an all or nothing attitude. Just evaluate and tweak.
  • Let kids help with their part. Give them chores.  Let them help you where they can.  Kids love helping out and feeling included.
  • Make sleep a priority. You need to get a good night’s sleep.  Make a certain bedtime a part of your routine.

Evening routines don’t have to be hard or complicated.  It will help set up your next day for success.  This is just one step to getting yourself out of survival and reactive mode.  An evening routine can allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

If you want to get motivational tips to help you on your special needs journey, just subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you can learn to get out of survival mode and thrive.  Life doesn’t have to be lived in a constant reactive mode.

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