evening routine

February 26, 2015

While I am really happy with how our mornings tend to go around here, the post-work experience is . . . well, we’ll just call it a work in progress.  Part of it is that — as always — I want too much!  I realize that with a rather productive morning that starts early, the evening is therefore limited, because sleep is non-negotiable.  For me, anyway.

Maybe I need to just make peace with the simple short evenings that are happening right now.  Here’s the basic template:

5:45 pm Arrive home from work (though if traffic is bad, I can be closer to 6 pm).  G (our nanny) tells me about all of the cuteness/craziness that happened while I was away, and heads off.

6 pm PLAY.  Seriously, that’s what we do.

Both kids, princess play, pretend play, chasing around balls, sometimes magnatiles/puzzles (currently limited because Mr C is a one-man wrecking crew and he is EFFICIENT, which infuriates his sister).  Once a week or so I FaceTime my parents so they can hang out (virtually) with us.

6:50 pm Cameron’s bedtime routine:  warm milk (in a sippie cup — no more bottles in this house!!), brush his 6 teeth, diaper, sleep sack, 2 books (w/ Annabel), and bed.  He is very easy and there is minimal if any protest.  (Never change, Mr C.  Never change.)

7 pm  C is asleep.  A gets a 30 minute allotment of screen time because — honestly, it’s a nice short break for me.  Right now I’m typing this post and drinking a glass of sauv blanc.  Ahhhh.  Sometimes Josh comes home at this point; other nights he comes home after A is in bed or much later.

7:30 pm  “Quality time” w/ A.  Interestingly, if Josh is home, she basically wants nothing to do with me.  But if it’s just us, it’s really nice.  We do some kind of play activity (trains, puzzle, pretend, etc) and then start her bedtime routine, which is considerably longer than Cameron’s.  Typically it goes something like this:

Nighttime diaper
2 books+ (this can take a while, she will stop and ask lots of questions sometimes)
Frozen song in bed (on my phone – we are going to phase this out, I think)
Bed – typically at 8:30 or so
If Josh came home during this interval, I will often let them have their time together and hang out reading facebook/blogs/etc.  
8:30 pm  Dinner.  Either solo (meh) or with Josh (much nicer).  We are very very lucky in that our nanny likes to cook, so we usually heat up something she has made during the day, or eat leftovers.  (And yes — she makes recipes from my favorite paleo cookbooks.  She is the best.)
9:00 pm Brief clean-up and then maybe one 30-minute TV show (The Mindy Project tonight, hopefully.  Or if I’m by myself – Jane the Virgin.)
9:30 pm In bed.  Read for 10 minutes, or until I’m about to pass out and fall asleep.
That’s it.  I’m lame, what can I say?  Except that maybe this is enough right now.  In a little while when C is going to bed later, I could see us hitting the playground or going for an outside walk when it is light outside late.  But for now, this rather simple routine makes sense.  
I have added a weekly “night out” for myself on Thursdays when I work a little later and then go to barre, which I really like.  It’s just one night a week, but it actually really helps me to know that 1/5 nights is not my responsibility.  
So that’s it!  I would looooooooove some more ideas of how to use this (limited but precious) time.  What do other mothers of young children do in the evenings, and what do I have to look forward to when A&C are older?  Also — curious about other kids’ bedtimes!
New app:  moment

Finally, an iPhone use tracker!  I know what my goal is going to be for next month . . .


  • Reply oldmdgirl March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Well, basically our routine is:
    5:45 Dyl arrives home from school with au pair, Daddy makes dinner
    6:15 dinner is consumed
    6:30 Dyl and au pair play while Daddy compulsively cleans
    6:45 movie
    I typically arrive home between 6 and 7 and proceed to feel guilty about doing movie vs. playing on the floor, but usually I’m too tired to do anything else, especially if there is crying involved.

    7:30 upstairs for bath/bed
    We usually do 1-3 books, Dyl plays with some toys upstairs, and we finish with me telling her a made up story (which is the only part I enjoy). We’ve tried to simplify and shorten the routine, but it has been more or less impossible.

    Oh, as soon as Dyl goes to bed, I pass out. Usually by 9, but sometimes (gloriously) by 8:30.

    I guess I wish I just had more energy to play after dinner, and that I didn’t want to lie on the couch desperately desiring to go to bed immediately, but knowing that I cannot for another 90 minutes. In short, your after work time sounds pretty awesome by comparison.

  • Reply Sarah March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    My kids are 5, 3 and 22 months. The 22 month old has only just started to go to bed a little later (7:30pm). Before that, he couldn’t handle life past 7pm! It is easier now with his later bed time. Makes the evening so much less frantic. With two working parents, it is hard to come home in the evenings to cranky kids and having a million things to do. Great that your nanny prepared meals. Meals are the most stressful part of the evening for us. Love that you have a solid hour of playtime when you get home!

  • Reply countingdowntildaddy March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Since I am usually alone until after the kids go to bed I try to have everyone eating at 5:00 just so that I can have all of them in bed by 7:00. Then the twins get a bath while the other kids clean-up, watch a show, play, destroy something…luckily out house is one story right now, so they are never too far away 🙂 I nurse the twins and try to have them in bed by 6:15-6:30. They are sleeping through the night and are generally asleep or playing quietly until about 8:00 if they can. Usually I have to wake them up to take the others to school. The big kids usually get a bath and books and are in bed by 7:00. Madeline is in full day kindergarten and typically passes out. The boys are a little more difficult, especially if Benjamin (2.5) took a late nap. 7:00 may seem early, but they usually do well and since I am home all day I can do it. Obviously if I worked outside of the house everyone would be going to bed later…and I would probably go to bed earlier 🙂

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      as usual, you amaze me! it sounds like you run a super tight ship (probably an absolute necessity with 5). I love the idea of the twins playing together in bed. just the cutest.

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I am fascinated by the idea of kids going to bed by 7. This has never happened in our house. If it does, they’re up around 5. My 7-year-old will go to bed later than me, but at least he can entertain himself.

    Glad you’re taking Thursdays off now! I need to get back in that habit now that baby is cool with a bottle.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      Annabel did the same thing until around 20months or so – then it drifted later when her nap became really long and solid. Once she drops her nap I have a feeling the bedtime will need to go back to 7:30 or 8 rather than 8:30+.

  • Reply Griffin March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    This is almost exactly our routine. To Laura’s bedtime question, we had this in the halcyon first year, but never again. I go to bed very early so that I can wake up rested at 5 and that 6 feels like sleeping in. The down side is that I’m not getting quiet time after the twins go to bed for more than a half hour, and it takes discipline to stick to this routine.
    I’ve had such a hard time pulling the trigger on a regular weeknight sitter, but I think I need to get over my "I’m already spending so much time on child care" and just do it. More often than not, we have a sitter one weekend night, so I’m using that as a reason not to help during the week in order to work or give myself a little break from the evening routine.

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I think your evenings sound lovely! Our are so rushed and, frankly, terrible, trying to get dinner on the table and into their bellies, then baths, brushing, stories and bed, all within 2-2.5 hours. We tried sending dinner to school with the kids a couple of evenings a week so they could eat from 5-5;15 (when G picks them up) and it actually worked really well except it was hard to plan ahead & figure out what to pack. And B started complaining that he wanted to eat at home. I love how you guys play all together for so long. That would make all of us happier than trying to nag the kids to wash their hands and sit at the table and eat when they are so ready to play.

  • Reply zenmoo March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve got a 7 month old & a 5 year old. I think of our evening routine starting at about 3.30pm when I get home from collecting the 5 year old from school. I walk her through getting her out of her uniform & into play clothes, unpack her lunch bags and get her to the table for an afternoon snack. That takes until 4pm. She then plays for a bit and I’ll sometimes play with her too and/or feed the baby. I get dinner ready by 5.30pm and generally eat with her. The baby is often super cranky at this time as she’s in the process of dropping the 3rd nap. Sometimes she’s asleep though and it’s peaceful… Not very often though. Finished dinner around 6.15, play for about 15min (jumping on the trampoline is quite popular). Then into the shower & out by 6.45. One episode of a short tv show (Octonauts is popular) while I get the baby to sleep. into the teeth/toilet/story routine by 7pm. Lights out to listen to a guided meditation story for 12minutes. Then I’m out of her room. If the baby napped, she’ll often wake up again & Ill feed her back to sleep. General both kids are in bed for the night (even if the older one isn’t actually asleep…) by 8.30pm. I usually spend a bit of time talking to my husband (he’s usually home between 6 & 7 but due to uncertainty about when he’ll be home I run the routine as if he’s not home till 7, it’s less stressful of I assume he won’t be there). I’m Usually heading to bed to read for a bit by 9pm as I’m still getting woken a few times and my day frequently starts around 5am.

  • Reply Rinna March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I think you are being too hard on yourself. It’s virtually impossible to have a demanding job, a highly-packed/efficient morning routine and the same type of evening routine. Something’s gotta give! Frankly, I think your evenings sound pretty good with everything else you do during the day and putting into context the extent of your morning routine. I also think these routines will evolve – a lot! – as your children get older. My 10 year old goes to bed at 9 (9:30 if I’m not lucky). So if I tried to go to bed at 9:30, that would give me zero evening. Not my thing anyway as I’m more of a night owl, but still…you may find that some of what you do in the morning does start to shift to the evening as kids grow.

  • Reply Emily March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    My main complaint with my evening routine is that I don’t eat with the kids (they are roughly the same age as A&C), although my husband does, but generally I like my evenings and feel like we get some quality family time in. He does daycare pickup around 5:15, home by 5:30. He fixes a simple dinner for the kids right away and while they are eating he prepares our dinner as well, then I get home about 6:15/6:20 as the kids are finishing. I sit on the couch and nurse my 11-month-old and my son watches some Sesame Street while my husband and I chat about the day. Then my husband and I eat together while the kids play together on the floor and/or our toddler eats some of our dinner (this is a not-so-relaxing part of the evening. I wish we could wait and have dinner after the kids go to bed, but I am always starving and can’t wait!). At about 7 we all go downstairs to the basement or upstairs to the kids’ bedrooms and have some fun playtime. At around 7:50 I change the baby and then nurse her to sleep, while my husband gets the toddler into jammies, gives him milk, reads to him, and cuddles on the couch with a little Elmo. The baby is usually down by about 8:15 and the toddler by 8:30. Then my husband cleans the kitchen and I prep milk/pump parts and lunch for the next day. Then collapse into bed and usually watch a bit of TV or read. I’m out by around 10. My problem is with the morning! I so wish I could force myself to work out in the morning like you do. My mornings are completely unproductive and I feel like I struggle to get the kids ready and myself out the door each day, especially because the kids tend to sleep a little later since they go to bed a little later. I think it is pretty tough for working parents to have both a productive/fulfilling morning and evening.

  • Reply Jennypenny March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I think you fit in quite a lot! But how do you not starve when you have dinner so late?

    I do school and daycare pick-up at 4:30-5, we are usually home by 5:15. The kids play or watch TV (or cry and hang in my pant legs) while change from my more formal work clothes to sweats and then I make dinner. I usually heat something I cooked on the weekend since this paleo food tends to be a lot of slow cooking and roasting. 🙂 their dad usually comes home by 5:30-5:45 and then we eat. After dinner they get to watch tv or draw/paint while we clean up. I prep breakfast on the go for tomorrow, get clean workout gear and put out clothes to wear to work. At 7:30 the kids go to bed and after story time they are out by 7:30-8-ish. I usually crawl up in bed myself and read/brows the web/watch a show until I fall asleep at 9-10.

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