There is always a lot of talk about our mornings, creating good rhythms and routines that will get our day started off in the best possible way. While mornings are very important and set the stage for how our day will play out, what about our evenings? They are admittedly harder to control it seems than the early morning hours, with last minute plans cropping up, children’s extra-curricular activities on various nights and an overall sense of tiredness from the day’s work and activities.
However, I find it extremely important to have a simple, daily, evening routine that helps internalize the completion of another day in our lives, and prepares us for the upcoming morning. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just a daily pattern that signals to our mind and body that the day is coming to a close and it is time to rest. Some of the different things I have incorporated into my evenings to make them simpler include-
Plan. I like to plan just two or three of the most important tasks I would like to complete the following day. Spending 5-10 minutes thinking about the following day helps me feel ready to relax for the night, knowing I am ready for the morning.
Prepare. Because I have children, fixing their school lunches and making sure they have their clothes ready for the next day is part of our evenings. We usually make time to do this shortly after dinner, and many days I make their lunches within a couple of hours of them coming home from school. I also personally prepare myself for gathering any paperwork that needs to be completed the next day, taking note of the errands I would like to do and any other preparations to make the transition to the next day easier.
Read. I usually keep some reading material next to my bed that is relaxing for me to look over and read a chapter or two to help calm and clear my mind from the day’s thoughts and activities.
Walk. I don’t particularly care for exercising intensely in the evenings, but a slow walk outside helps me to slow down and enjoy a simpler evening. Listening to all the sounds of nature in the evening brings a pleasant closure to the day.
Write. Journaling or writing my thoughts down in the evening can be a particularly good way to have a simpler evening. There’s nothing better than some old-fashioned cursive on paper to help bring your thoughts full circle for the day and create an evening surrounded by simple reflection.
Firelight. I’ve written about lighting candles, which I love and feel it really helps to bring in a certain ambience of calm. In addition to candles, we have a very small fire pit that is lovely when burning at night. It is one of my favorite things to sit and just stare into the dancing flames contemplating not really anything. While we don’t do this every night, even incorporating it into a weekly evening pattern can help bring in peace and calmness.
Depending on your activities and obligations in the evening, your evening pattern will look different than mine, or anyone else’s. Take the time to recognize those things you can do each evening to create a pattern of calm and simplicity as you end your day. You’ll thank yourself for it the next morning.
What a nice night for an evening. – Stephen Wright