Evening routine – getting prepared for the next day

Back in 2010 I wrote this post – 10 Things To Do Before You Go To Bed. Five years on this process still provides the basis for my evening routine, but there has been some small changes.

The end of the day to me signals opportunity. An opportunity for me to reset not only the house but my mood too. The physical activities I undertake in the evening before I go to bed help me with the mental readjustment if it is needed. Some days all is well and no readjustment of my mindset is needed. But on days where there has been too much fighting amongst the kids, too much testing of the boundaries by the kids or it has just been one of those days, I need to let go of the negative energy I may be holding on to and embrace the clean slate of a new day.

The process detailed below works for our family at this time. It may not be the exact process that is right for your family, but I would highly encourage you to develop some type of evening routine which lets you get prepared for the next day. It takes around 30 – 45 minutes in the evening and not only does it help make for smoother mornings, if I was to undertake these activities in the morning, it would take much longer with all the kids around.

So you can see the changes from 5 years ago, I have kept the same headings and have written what we do with that activity now, noting the relevant changes.

1. Set Table For Breakfast

Flash freezing fruit and veg DSC06849

We no longer set out the place mats, bowls, spoons, glasses, cereal boxes etc on the dining table as what we eat is very different from what it used to be at breakfast. Over a year ago, I weaned the kids off processed cereals and you can read more about that here.

The older three kids still get themselves breakfast each day and the younger two will make their own breakfast occasionally, but most often I make them a hot breakfast. Of a night now, instead of setting up the dining table, I make sure the breakfast foods the kids like are available. Lots of smoothies are made for breakfast in our house for example, so I will make sure there is plenty of frozen banana ready to go.

2. Prepare Lunch Boxes

preparing lunches

I am only making lunch boxes up for three of the five kids now. Once in secondary school the kids are expected to put together their own lunch. They can choose from the savoury and sweet homemade items made for lunches or choose something else of their liking if they prefer.

Each night for the younger three I will:

  • cut up fruit and veggies
  • wrap up homemade sweet treat
  • wrap up or put in a container the homemade savoury treat
  • ensure the ice bricks are back in the freezer
  • portion out yogurt into containers if they are having it
  • portion out crackers or seed mix if they are having it

In the morning it is then a matter of pick and packing the items from the fridge, adding the ice brick and the lunches are done.

Note: as of 2021 I no longer make the lunches for the kids – once they reach secondary school it becomes their responsibility. I still bake on a regular basis so they have items to choose from and put in their lunchboxes but they need to pull it all together.

3. Complete Notices

evening routine - school notices

The kids still place their notes up on the kitchen bench when they come home from school. Once I have made the lunch boxes I will complete them as required and place them in their lunchbox for collection. It is the child’s responsibility then to ensure the note makes its way to school.

Note: as of 2021 we no longer have any paper notices but I make time at the end of my workday to complete any online notices that I have for the kids.

4. Ensure Clean and Available Uniforms/Clothes

evening routine - clothes clean

With the available uniforms and scheduled sports days, I know at a minimum I need to do a load of washing on Tuesday and Thursdays. If I haven’t had a chance to do it earlier in the day, I will put the load on as soon as I get the kids off to bed, making sure I have time to put it on the clothes horse before I go to bed.

Each night before they go to bed the kids need to get their school clothes out ready for the next day. If for any reason they are missing part of their uniform they are to let us know.

I also get my own clothes ready the night before which means getting my running gear out ready and selecting the outfit I will wear for the day as well.

5. Un-stack Dishwasher

Our dishwasher tends to go multiple times a day. Most nights I will get it loaded and on straight after dinner. My husband then unstacks it before he goes to bed, so it is ready for filling again in the morning.

6. General Tidy

The kids are expected to tidy their things before they head off to bed in the evening. My husband and myself will then pick up, reset etc as we are walking around the house of an evening. I find with our kids, if things are a little messy, they seem to think this gives them full licence to just be even messier! Starting the day with everything back in their place is my way of modelling the behaviour I want from them.

7. Empty The Bin/s

Emptying the three bins we have in the house (recycling, compost and rubbish) are now all household tasks that have been allocated to the kids, so we only have to worry about this if someone has gotten behind in their tasks. You can read more about how we allocated household tasks amongst the kids here – Family Contribution Schedule.

8. Check The Calendar


I am fully reliant on my online calendar now and I will make sure I check early in the evening. This however is more really for me to remember what I am doing and where I am going, rather than helping me prepare for the next day.

In my calendar I set up email notifications to make sure I remember key events and key activities I need to undertake. For example if the school is having a cake stall, I will have enter a notification into my calendar to remind me a week in advance and then again two days out that I need to do some baking. I share more about how I use Google Calendar in this post – 5 simple family organisation tools

9. Make To Do List

I still like to write my self a list of an evening. I find writing down the key things I need to achieve the following day helps me to get off to sleep quicker as I don’t have so many things rushing through my head.

I have become better however at writing my to do lists. No longer do I write down every single thing I know I need to do on that list, but I focus on the key activities that will help me achieve my personal and business goals. I am no longer a slave to my to do list, but I use the list to ensure that I am focusing my energies on the most important tasks. You can see my to do list process here – it is old school paper and pencil style!

10. Wind Down

There is often not a lot of time left at the end of the evening for me to wind down. I have however two things that I end my day with at the moment

Do you have an evening routine? What things do you do to prepare for the new day?