The new bedtime routine

I was never the best at bedtime routines. Once the kids were beyond their infancy and into their toddler years, dinner was followed by baths, jammies and snuggling and reading. Once the kids were passed out, I would spend a few hours on the computer, and then would crawl into bed with a book and read until the book fell out of my hand when I conked out. We watched TV sometimes, but usually our evenings revolved around personal pursuits.

My career took off when my youngest was still in preschool, and evening hours became consumed with work projects that hadn’t been completed during the regular work hours. I checked email the moment my eyes opened in the morning, and always on the way to bed at night. The bedtime routine sometimes involved freshly bathed kids falling asleep on the couch in front of cooking shows, and the nightly reading gave way to listening to audio books, or solo reading. I gave up on balance. Self-care wasn’t a concept I considered in those days.

I’m turning 45 in a few weeks, and I’m determined to spend the next 45 years of my life doing things differently. My kids mostly manage their own routines, so after dinner (which they often cook) I’m free to indulge in an actual bedtime routine that is longer than brushing my teeth, washing my face and collapsing.

Of course, every evening is a different schedule, but generally, an hour before I plan to be asleep, I get offline and away from screens. I light a scented candle and either take a bath or spend some time in reflection. I am trying to learn to meditate without the aid of a guided meditation program, but my busy brain isn’t cooperating yet. Sometimes I’ll have a cup of tea, but generally, my food consumption ends with dinner (and I eat pretty early – usually by 6pm at the latest.)

Once I’m warm, calm and relaxed, I plan my food for the next day, update my five-year journal and write in my gratitude journal. And then, I crawl into bed and generally read for a few minutes before I sleep.

It used to take me hours to settle down enough to drop off, and then I would frequently jolt awake at 2am, and not be able to return to sleep for more than an hour. That’s apparently not uncommon.┬áBut for me, I’m a happier, more productive person if I get a good 8-9 hours of sleep, and that middle of the night action means an under-rested Jenny. No one likes Tired Jenny. She’s a grump.

Since embracing this new schedule, and really tapering my electronic exposure for the last hour or two before I sleep, I’m sleeping better, feeling less stressed and feel more capable of accomplishing the many daily tasks that await me every day.