Tips for a Calm Nighttime Routine

When my kids were babies, establishing a nighttime routine was surprisingly easy. But now that they are “big” kids, that’s another story.

kids playing in the living room

I have to admit that the lack of nighttime routine is often my fault. If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (LauraSFuentes), you often see that at night I am prepping our meals for the next day. This often leaves my kitchen in a disarray, as if a small tornado just breezed through it.

Then, if you listen closely, you’ll hear my boys in the living room playing with legos, blocks, or race tracks. The washer and dryer are also going nearly every night since a house with six people dirty a lot of laundry.

At a first glance, you might think that I have it all under control, however, internally I’m often stressing that it’s already 8 pm and my kitchen is a wreck, toys need to be picked up, and piles of laundry need to be folded and put away. I should add, that my youngest has already asked “just ten more minutes” five times.

just ten more minutes mom!

A few days ago, I told you about my little morning ritual and how I’m trying to create a morning routine. Both of these are helping me gather myself each morning and be more mindful. I am committed to letting go of the stress-triggered worry that often fills my mind, even in the evenings. To help me reset my mind and habits this month, I’ve partnered with Aetna to participate in their #Mindful30 program.

Today’s tip:
Studies show that doing too many things, especially when you’re feeling emotional or preoccupied with something else, decreases the brain’s ability to process what you’re doing and leads to frustration. So today, try focusing on one task at a time. Fold the laundry and just think about that. Your mind will feel less “busy”, and you’ll feel less frazzled.

I have to admit that the evenings are pretty rough. My youngest, who just turned 4 a couple of days ago, is tired by 7:45 pm and his older siblings still have another hour or two of energy left.

alex and gabriel playing

His tired fighting with the siblings often aggravates the situation, and in my mind, all I can think about is “I don’t have enough time in my day to get it all done.”

Lately, I’ve been trying to juggle less, even in the evenings. To actually complete one task in a shorter amount of time, I’m taking my phone to my bedroom and leaving it there; to eliminate all forms of distractions and constant social media interruption.

Before tackling the laundry and kitchen, I make sure the boys are entertained with toys for a good 30 minutes while I do one area until completion (usually first the kitchen, then laundry).

Once those are done, I move on to the living room to tidy up (with the kids) what seems like an entire toy store. After that, I put my youngest in bed.

What I love about focusing on one thing at a time, is that I am much more efficient at getting things done -especially without my phone around. And, I have more time to do the things I love, like sitting down next to my daughter while she reads me her book or talk.

sofia reading

Do you struggle to get it all done in the evenings? What are some tips that work best for you to eliminate the end-of-day overwhelm?

This post was sponsored by Aetna, who believes health is about the body and the mind. Stress can affect emotional and physical health, and reducing stress can boost wellbeing. As part of their #Mindful30 challenge, the views and opinions expressed in my posts on the topic of mindfulness are my own, not Aetna’s. To learn more about mindfulness, visit

18 thoughts on “Tips for a Calm Nighttime Routine”

  1. Lori says:

    Taking a step back and looking at my day, I suppose I do have a routine. My children are young, so bedtimes are still early in my house. After supper, my children watch a TV show so that I can get the food put away and then do the dishes. Once the show is over, I stop what I’m doing, and am available to encourage the children to pick up their toys before we all head upstairs. Once we are upstairs, the children tidy their rooms, and do quiet activities, like reading while the other child has his or her bath. By the time it’s all said and done, it’s 7:30/8pm. I head back downstairs and finish up whatever needs cleaning, fold laundry while I indulge in a favorite TV show or hockey game, do some meal prep, prep school bag, etc. I find my children thrive on routine and even though I feel like I have a million things to do, I always keep track of what has to happen next in their little life, and it always means putting a task off. It’s taken me a long time to accept that, and it’s something my husband is still working on. If I’m not home for some reason at night, he doesn’t put the kids first. He will finish cleaning up the kitchen, take out the trash, clean the cat box before bringing the children up to bed, but that’s enough to through the kids’ routine off, and suddenly they are getting to bed 20 min later. There are more tears, tantrums, and bed time delays, and when I get home, my husband is rattled because things didn’t go smoothly. So, I encourage him, especially when it comes to bedtime, to keep to the routine.

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Lori, your routine and non-routine days ring so true at my house too! My kids and I thrive on routine and I have come to accept that even though the are no longer babies the need it. We need it. The house needs routine to run smoothly. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Golda says:

    Your post came on time as right now i’m trying to create some evening routine that will keep everyone calm.
    Doing one thing at a time is a good advice and i’ll try to stick to it as much as i can 🙂
    Would love to see more post from you on similar topics!

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      thanks Golda! I will continue to share the little nuggets of wisdom about the things that have worked for me in the last decade as a mom. Thank you for reading!

  3. Teeha says:

    Hello Laura.. Really i appreciate all the effort you put on this blog and what you do for your little kids and yourself too! You deserve to be the ( mom of the year 🙂 i have 3 little angles,, the Meeea is 4yrs , Nila is turning 3 yrs on the 2nd of Feb and Sari is 1year 3 months. Meera is in Kg1 and school starts at 08:00 am meaning we have to reach the school ahead of time to make sure there is no stress that my girls feel to start her day with a great boost of positive energy. My evening routine starts at 05:30 pm where i make bubble bath and let her have fun with Nila for 30 minutes and then wear pjs and have little play until 06:30 where i prepare simlw dinner for them and eat it at 07:00.. 07:30 i brush their teeth and put them to bed, maximum at 07:45 i ensure rhey fell asleep so i go ahead and focus on my little boy Sari dinner and little play time until 09:00 ,, Done .. Really i like your emails and eager to read all you blog posts

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      thank you Teeha for your kind words. As moms, we are in this together. We all have our challenges in the evening and I can assure you that your kids age span is a lot more difficult than what I currently have. I’ve been there, so hang on to it. Times goes fast!

  4. Melissa says:

    I guess I am pretty lucky since my youngest (age 8) is a seven o’clock kid. At seven, he starts putting himself to bed. That keeps me on track, and reminds me to get my older boy moving in that direction. It also allows us to read in bed together or just talk about the day. Most nights the kids are in bed by eight. My husband is really good about cleaning the kitchen after the boys clear the table, which allows me to finish laundry and prep lunches for the next day.

  5. Lisa Marz says:

    NEVER too old for a bedtime routine! Even adults benefit from one. Though I have to say it is easier to keep my lil kids on one then it is a teen or myself! My lil guys start about 30 minutes before bedtime (45 min before lights out): Pj’s, snack, brush teeth, upstairs to read (Ha!) quietly for 10-15 min. I come up and lay out there clothes for the next day, read or book or talk with them and then tuck them in and turn out the light. My 17 year old… that’s another story. He’s on his own as he goes to bed after me. When I get tired, I know it is time to stop and just leave things for the next day. A tired irritable mom the next morning does not go over well!

  6. Katie says:

    Part of my end of day routine is having EVERYONE (husband, kids and me) pick up for 5 minutes after dinner. I set the kitchen timer on for 5 minutes. At the end if toys are left out they may go to “Toy time out” in the basement for a week. I bring a bag out to review/capture any toys left behind. Amazing how kids pick up if their toys are in danger.

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      I love the “toy time out”! I tell my kids that whatever it’s left out goes in the garbage or gets donated to other kids. I like the time out idea…

  7. Amy says:

    I don’t have kids, but I do have a TV habit, and it’s a time suck if ever there was one. To get stuff done quickly and efficiently in the evenings, I use the commercial times to do quick things around the house–prepare lunch and my outfit for the next day, clean up the kitchen, sweep the floor, etc. That way, I’m not distracted by the TV while I’m doing things, I know I have a time limit so I don’t dawdle (which I’m really good at!), and I can watch TV without feeling too much guilt.

    Plus, getting up during the commercials gets me up off the couch, so…

  8. Courtney says:

    Night time is always such a hectic and stressful time at our house. I probably hear “Just 5 more minutes” about 5 times each night.

  9. Avery says:

    My baby is still young so she sleeps a lot. (Thankfully!) I can get a lot of things done with she takes naps and sleeps but I usually get tired too!

  10. Stephanie D. says:

    At the end of the day I don’t have any energy left. I usually get home from work exhausted and have 3 hungry kids waiting on me…

  11. Quinn says:

    I work from home so I try and do the laundry during the day while the kids are at school and get that off my shoulders.

  12. Bree L. says:

    We have a routine after dinner, that everybody cleans up the living room and makes sure all the toys are put away. I always tell my kids if I still see toys after doing the dishes I will donate them…

  13. Alex T. says:

    Seriously, the older my kids get, the harder it is to have a routine.

  14. Jill S. says:

    I feel like my routine changes every couple of weeks. The kids are getting older and maintaing the same routine is difficult.

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