Taking back the [very] end of the day

When I finally subscribed to the Risen Motherhood podcast after several recommendations, my first listen was their recent podcast on taking back last hours of the day– the dreaded “witching hour.” It was a great podcast and I recommend it.

But the idea of taking back the end of the day caught my attention because the very end of my day usually needs just as much help and grace as the witching hour. On any given weeknight, the girls are in bed before 7:30, dinner is ready, I still have rooms and messes to clean up and I just don’t feel like it.

What I really want to do is turn on Netflix and pretend I’m going to fold laundry. Or fold it and keep vegging for another episode or two. Maybe with a bag of tortilla chips, if we’re being real. Forget my to-do list– once the kitchen is clean and I can safely walk through the living room, I am on the couch.

Besides the neglected to-dos, there’s the ambitious end-of-the-day plans I always make during the post-naptime energy boost : do a barre workout, write a blog post, read a book, finish the chapter of the Bible I got three minutes into this morning. And yet, the post-bedtime slump comes and day after day, I neglect the things I want to do for the easy thing.

It’s especially hard not to do this when Bryant is traveling or at work late prepping for a trip. I feel so done by the end of the day when I’m alone, and without my everlastingly energetic husband to inspire me, I just veg.

So, I’ve been thinking about strategies for overcoming this habit, borrowing some from the Risen Motherhood podcast that you should really listen to. For instance:

  • Planning ahead. Just like making dinner while the girls sleep to avoid the worst of the witching hour, I’m working on planning a project into my day a few times a week and making adjustments. If I want to have time for barre or writing, I might do a little extra clean-up during nap time to make room for that.
  • Scheduling it. If I have a list of 5 things I could do at 8p.m., I will do none. But if I have a workout picked  or a book set aside and it’s on my list just like the bills were earlier, I am so much more likely to be excited and actually do it.
  • Adjust expectations & plans. I am not going to do an intense 45 minute barre class or clean the bedroom closet at the end of the day. If that’s my goal, I do it during nap time.
  • Make Netflix time valuable: sometimes I really need to fold diapers, stretch, or do extra toy pickup. I’m working harder  to push through and get those done during a show, instead of just meaning to.
  • Block Facebook after a certain time of the evening: this is such a time-sucker because I have a few groups of women I actually know and see in person that I follow daily on Facebook groups too. Having a real conversation thread about how to fit running in as a mom can be totally valid, but 9:30 p.m. is not the time. I like the StayFocused browser extension because there’s no way to get around the settings after the site is blocked for the day except my phone, which I can only surf for so long.

Of course, there are days when I’m beat and my plan is to watch a show and go to bed. I think we all need those days sometimes. And there are other days Bryant is home and all is well even if we’re doing separate activities. But for the other days, this is my plan of attack. Here’s to productive evenings and better rest.

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