My Evening Routine

Well yes, the 6pm thing.

Your questions:
How do you manage to get to bed by 6pm on weekdays? How does it work? What does it look like with kids? When do they go to bed? When do you see your husband?

And so, some answers:

I will start by saying that, in life and in evenings, there are many trade-offs. The makings of a blissful morning (for me, at least) call for a decidedly nontraditional evening. For starters, the biggest habits cut from my life – six years and counting – are these: TV, Netflix, Facebook.

They are simply not a part of my day.

erin loechner

What is part of my day? Afternoons and evenings spent reading a book on the lawn, traipsing around ponds, visiting friends, splashing in pools. Trees to climb, floors to vacuum, groceries to procure. Today, a toad habitat to build for Hoppy, the long-awaited visitor to our back deck who promptly fell asleep on Bee’s chest as she smiled, proud.

The day stretches on much of this way, non-orchestrated at best, though I’m careful to paint you an inaccurate portrait of languor. There are interruptions, tantrums, chores, errands. Sometimes, during Scout’s (ever-shortening) nap, there are emails to answer, phone calls to take, dinner to prep. It is not an evening of luxury, but in the absence of rushing, it sometimes feels as such.

I will pause here to say that the kids are still young, not infiltrated with the rigor of organized sports, schools, performances, extracurriculars. In the summer, Bee’s Chinese lessons pause for two months, and although I supplement homeschooling with a few community projects or a week-long half-day camp that sparks her interest (theatre, currently), there is little in the way of a full schedule. And so, our days are what we make them out to be. Plenty of margin, room for surprise.

Again, the trade-off: At 4pm on a weekday, we will not be found shooing ourselves out the door, searching for missing cleats, stuck in traffic in an itchy tutu and a hot car seat. And yet, the flipside: by 6pm on a weekday, we will not be found cheering proudly on the sidelines of a soccer field, nor fanning ourselves with ballet programs as we watch kids in buns twirl into their own set of dreams.

Trade-off, trade-off, trade-off. We give time to what we think timeless, and for us, right now, this is togetherness.

erin loechner

Speaking of togetherness, Ken works from home and we run into each other a fair amount around here. There are exceptions to this, like when he’s rooted in a big project or out of town. But mostly, connections can be fought for in the little things – the shared smiles over a toddler lisp, the refilling of each other’s water glasses. The moments we find ourselves together in the kitchen with a napping Scout and a preoccupied Bee and the two of us can enjoy an uninterrupted conversation, start-to-finish, joyously so.

Last evening, we all pause in awe of a baby bunny on our front stoop, silently hypnotized, daring ourselves not to move, willing her not to dash off with the perk of an ear, each of us wholly unsurprised and disappointed when she finally does.

So there are moments, is what I’m saying.

Mostly, time is made on weekends and rare date nights, built on the mutual respect and understanding for each other’s schedules/passions/bents. Mostly, when the clock strikes 6, he surfaces into the kitchen to wash up, and with that, I’m off to bed while the kids enjoy a few hours with the one who cooks better curry, tells funnier stories, allows livelier antics, throws straighter pitches.

erin loechner

And then it is just me again. Scrubbing off the day with a smear of coconut oil, warm water, soft washcloth, a serum. Brushed teeth, an open book, my journal. I lower the blackout shades, whisper thank yous into the dark.

Set my alarm for eight-ish hours, for a new day, a fresh morning. A lavish dawn to greet me and you and us all.


p.s. More thoughts on slower, simpler evenings are right this way (with or without the 6pm bedtime). Here’s to a good, good day, friends.

  • Another awe inspiring letter ; I’m now a certified Erin L fan! I have been spreading your thing to my dearest friends & family! I hope to keep following you (not to creep you.. :) )Thank you, thank you, and please do keep chasing Slow- I’m with you…

  • Wait, if you go to bed at six pm – do you wake up eight hours later at 2 AM? So fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  • i miss those days. the family at home together so often when they were little. now that ours are getting older, we spend a lot of time at the soccer field… often finishing up practices at 7pm and then driving a half hour home and then bedtime routine and occasionally dinner (we try to do that before). exceptionally early days are not a part of our current reality. i love reading about other peoples routines. i have enjoyed reading yours, and feel inspired by your choices.

    • Thank you, Jenny — and I can only imagine how much sports might dictate your days! It’s always a beautiful sort of trade-off, yes? Cheering you on as you make the best of your days!!! :)

  • This sounds so nice. I’ve always been a morning person and by nighttime I just want to crawl in bed. I know a lot of people love nighttime for spending time with their spouse, but I never feel like it’s quality time. I’m usually very protective of our time and home life. This week I let my sister talk me into this art camp for my four-year-old and my niece. It has messed us up so much. I can’t believe how much running around has disrupted. Not to mention how exhausting it is. I know it’s inevitable as my kids get older, but this week has reminded me that our simple days at home are just right for our family at right now.

    • Oh, I can imagine! I know it’s not for everyone, but I so love our simple days at home over the rushing to/through all else. But oh, the beautiful art camp creations! I like those, too. ;) Hugs to you!

  • Glad that this schedule can work for your family. I don’t even get home from work until 530 or so.
    However, when retirement finally comes this might be perfect.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh yes, it’s fairly nontraditional and I can see how it wouldn’t work for many! Thanks for reading anyway! :)

  • Erin, ever since I heard of your 2am wake up (I think first in your book??) I canNOT stop thinking about it. (Not in a creepy way, promise!) It’s such an amazing organisational strategy in a season where work, family, friends and ‘me’ time are clumped together and messy. I was wondering – and if this is prying, I understand – do you do this on weekends do? Do you ever fit in evenings with girlfriends? And, do you consider morning time for work or is it for personal reading (you read so much) and exercise, and … whatever… too?

    • Great questions, Kate, not prying at all! I don’t always do this on weekends, as I don’t work on weekends, so yes, that’s when I’ll schedule evenings with girlfriends, family get-togethers or hosting friends. And if I’m traveling or Ken’s out of town, I generally break from the routine then, too. But mostly, it sticks!

      And my morning time is for a mix of both, actually — if I have a deadline that needs attention, I generally focus most of those hours on that, but I also fit in time for prayer and reading, yes! My goal is for my soul to be in a good spot when the kids wake up, however that needs to happen! ;)

      • You’re so generous, thanks for responding. I really love the notion of soul readiness – it’s a fine art, no? I really respect the lightness with which you seem to hold routines while remaining consistent and calm. You’re one amazing mamma and human! x

      • Oh that is such kind encouragement – thank you, Kate! And I couldn’t agree more re: soul readiness! It’s been my only morning goal for quite a bit. :)

  • I just discovered your blog and I am binge-reading all your latest posts! I love your writing so much. Just wanted to drop a line to let you know you have a new fan :)

  • I’m listening to your book right now, and finding I love it more with each passing chapter. I was a young(ish) mom and I find myself processing things in my 30s, as a person (and parent!) that I just wasn’t able to 10 years ago. Your book has held so many nuggets of wisdom, and I’ve been pressing pause to take notes throughout. I’m grateful I was energetic and happy as a young mom, but with age comes some wisdom of my own, and much more seeking of wisdom. I’m finding it so very helpful for our family to confidently do what works for us, even when it’s outside the norm. Thank you for putting yourself out there; it’s a gift to many.

    • Oh April, this is such a kind note. Thank you for letting me know, and for such encouragement! I’ve found the same to be true for my 30s, seeking more wisdom and less permission, more today and less tomorrow. Here’s to the journey, and it’s nice to see you here! :)

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