How to Finish Your Day
How do you finish your day? Are you doing the things necessary to make the end of your day a celebration rather than a relief to just have made it through? Try a few of these tips to close out your day in the best possible way.
1. Put the kitchen to bed. Collect the inevitable mail and paperwork debris so you can wipe down the counters. Check the stovetop and appliances to make sure they are indeed OFF. Put food away. Clean the dinner dishes. There is nothing worse than starting your day by having to tackle dirty, caked-on food from the night before. I read somewhere that people with clean kitchens are more likely to maintain their healthy eating habits. That was all I needed to hear to keep my kitchen tidy!
2. Final house walk-through. My grandmother was a huge fan of this. Growing up, she would walk the house making sure all was good, with people and things. Doors locked. Lights and appliances off. Alarm set. I think this is extremely important with increasingly independent children, who wash their hands and leave the faucet running, or leave something precariously balanced on a desk so that it comes crashing down in the middle of the night. Check on the house. Check on the people as well. They, too, should be in their rightful places before you close up your day.
3. Apply the Rule of 5 to your bedroom. Don't know the Rule of 5? It just means pick up 5 items and put them away. In my bedroom, it is almost always clothing that is resting at the end of the bed. But it might also include one of my daughter's stuffed animals that ended up in the room, or a few papers that I was reading and set on the nightstand, or an errant device cord. Five things returned to their rightful home actually does make a difference. A tidy bedroom is related to more restful sleep. Need I say more?
4. Put devices and screens away.* We do not need our phones in bed. We do not need the television blaring as we are settling in for the night. And if we think we do, an intervention is necessary. Devices, and the light they emit, are harmful to our sleep. Leaning on devices just before bed is one of the most damaging things we can do to our greater well-being. And they set a troubling example for the younger members in our house who are just beginning to understand the value of setting limits. Keep it out of your nightly routine. Charge them in the kitchen or bathroom. They will be there when you wake up. *One exception here is a device for reading. Personally, I prefer a book in my hands. I also do not like the way my eyes feel when I read on a screen. But, a screen for reading would be my only exception to this rule.
5. Tuck everyone in, no matter what. Kids, and spouses, can be challenging. We have arguments. Or hurt feelings. And we simply do not feel like telling that person goodnight, or that we love them. Resist the urge to hold a grudge and don't omit this nightly ritual. Sincerely wishing the ones we love goodnight and that we love them is one of the most rewarding parts of the day. Deal with the drama in the morning. Better yet, forget it and move on.
6. Commit to some small form of nightly self-care. Finally the house is quiet. Now I can use these 10 minutes to take care of me. Washing my face. Wrapping my hair up. Flossing. Using a few of the lovely creams from my bag of tricks that I can fully admit may not actually work but sure do smell good when I use them. Small acts of pampering just before you crawl into bed feels strangely indulgent. And deserved.
7. End your day at a regular and decent hour. Staying up super-late to catch up on what didn't get accomplished earlier is a great way to make the following day challenging because you are so tired. We can't catch up. It doesn't exist. There is always something else to do. So admit that and go to bed. I can promise you that whatever you didn't get done will be waiting for you tomorrow. Making an effort to go to bed at the same time each night helps support better sleep. And we could all use better sleep. Pick a time. Stick to it. And go to bed.
8. Settle in with something easy on the brain. I simply can't just crawl into bed and go to sleep, no matter how weary I happen to be. I always have a book, a logic puzzle, a magazine, or a sketchbook, at my bedside. I need 10-20 minutes to just decompress and enjoy my own quiet thoughts. It is a form of meditation, thinking abstractly and quietly. Don't like reading or "working" before bed? Try a little music. Or, if you are so inclined, try actually meditating.
9. Stretch. Your body worked hard all day. Show it some respect. Neck rolls. Touch your toes, or hang as far as your body will allow while on your feet. Reach out your arms to release tension in your chest and back. Wiggle out those kinks that accumulated over the course of the day and feel even more ready to flop down into your bed.
10. Give thanks. What did you do today? How was your day? The answers to these questions are less important than just taking stock and releasing yourself from any burden about what actually happened. We can't do everything. Every day won't be perfect. Many days won't even be that good. But today is a gift - that's why it's called THE PRESENT. (I have to credit my sister-in-law for that little tidbit.) Remember that. Give thanks for it as you bring it to a close. Tomorrow is another day. If Scarlet O'Hara can remember that - after war, divorce, betrayal, death, and the disappointment that comes with doing your own laundry sans slaves - so can you.
This is a follow-up to my previous post How to Start Your Day. I don't believe I will try and write a detailed post about what to do with the hours in between, so you are now officially on your own.