As parents of little ones we spend A LOT of time thinking about our baby’s sleep routines: what’s working, what’s not, how to create the perfect sleep environment and on and on. During that first year it’s easy to put all our focus on our child’s sleep needs and neglect creating routines for ourselves to help us get the rest we need.
I’m Robin Long, mom of 4 (6, 4, and 1.5 year old twins!) and Founder & CEO of The Balanced Life, an online Pilates community providing at-home workouts, positive support, and a balanced & realistic approach to take care of yourself in all seasons of life.
As parents, so many people are relying on us and it’s easy to look at taking care of ourselves as a luxury, but it’s not. It’s absolutely essential so that you can feel your best and thrive as a parent. But don’t worry, I’m not going to add a bunch of things to your to-do list. Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be time consuming or overwhelming.
Here are 4 simple and realistic tips for creating an evening routine that will help you relax, get deeper sleep, and reduce stress:
A good evening routine starts in the morning.
I aim to get outside every morning. The sunshine signals to our body and brains that it’s daytime and regulates our sleep/wake cycle that will play out over the next 24 hours. While you might not have time to take a leisurely walk, try stepping outside and enjoying a few minutes of sunlight (cup of coffee or tea in hand is always a bonus). This simple action will help you wake up, increase energy and get your body moving early in the day. Artificial light can have the opposite effect – so it’s important to get outside.
Do the things you need to do, to feel the way you want to feel!
So often by the time I get my kids to bed and the house tidy, all I want to do is crash on the couch, scroll Instagram or catch up on a show I missed. While this can sometimes be what I need in that particular moment, too much of this makes me feel more tired and sluggish. Now, I try and ask myself “how do I want to feel in the morning?” or “what will really help me feel refreshed tonight?” Sometimes that will mean heading straight to bed, other times I realize I’d like to sit and chat with my husband for a bit to catch up, or maybe taking a bath and reading a book for 10 minutes is what’s needed. Our time is limited, so it’s important to check in with ourselves and identify how we can use our evening hours to feel our best.
Turn off your devices.
Looking at screens for a prolonged amount of time can damage our eyes, increase stress, and disrupt sleep patterns (which further harms our health). Here are a few simple tricks to help reduce screen time at night:
- Identify a time at night to log-off of screens. This allows time for your body and mind to wind down before bed and get quality sleep. Lack of good sleep leads to stress and a whole host of other health issues. While it can be hard to unplug when you just want to do one more thing (I get it!) – creating this habit can improve your sleep and ultimately help you be the best version of yourself when you wake up in the morning (or in the middle of the night!).
- When using screens after the sun goes down, consider wearing blue light blocking glasses. This helps reduce the strain on your eyes and limits the negative effects on your sleep.
Try some gentle movement and stretching to relax your mind and body.
You might be thinking that this is the last thing you want to do after a long day – I hear you – but gentle stretching, breathing, and movement can be so great for reducing stress, slowing your body down, and transitioning from the chaos of the day to a more peaceful evening. If you need a place to start, check out this 10 minute Relaxing Evening Pilates Routine.
I hope these tips help to lighten your load and add some calm to your evening routine! Remember to take it one day at a time. Parenting is a lot of work and you’re doing a great job!
For more encouragement, support and resources to care for yourself in this or any season, come check out The Balanced Life!