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One of the easiest ways to have a great day is to get started the night before. But creating an evening routine is easier said than done, especially if you’re worn out after chasing kids all day.

When you’re a busy mom, following any sort of routine may seem like a challenge. But those are the times when a routine will help you stay organized, focused, and productive.

If you’re struggling to create an evening routine (or if your morning routine is overwhelming), these tips helped me create a manageable evening routine (even though I hate leaving the couch).

Limit your evening routine

Even setting up your to-do list using these time management ideas can make a stressful day simple!

An evening routine can quickly become overwhelming if you try to do too much. While an evening routine sets you up for a great day (and simplifies your morning routine), it might not be the time to try to do everything. Try to limit your evening routine to only three tasks.

Choose the tasks that will make your morning easier.

For example, if you struggle to feed the kids breakfast before rushing out the door in the morning, clear the table after dinner and immediately set it with dishes for breakfast. Then, have simple breakfast dishes ready. Try making oatmeal in the crock pot overnight or baking (and freezing) muffins ahead of time.

Or, if you struggle to find everything you need in the morning because the living room floor is still covered in blankets and toys from the day before, spend 15 minutes doing a “quick clean” before putting the kids to bed.

As you create your evening routine, focus on the tasks that would make your morning easier and choose the most important ones to finish at night.

Clean as you go

Doing the dinner dishes is my least favorite chore, but it’s so depressing to wake up the next morning to a kitchen full of dirty pans, crusted dinner plates, and crumbs everywhere.

As you go through your evening routine (or even before your routine officially “starts”), try to work ahead.

For example, as you cook dinner, start the dishes. As you put away the leftover food, make lunches in individual containers.

Think of things that you could do while you’re doing other things, like getting the kids to help with a 15-minute cleanup while dinner cooks on the stove.

Start earlier

Start your evening routine earlier

Instead of waiting until everyone is in bed, start your evening routine earlier. This could mean earlier in the day, like right after lunch, or even all at once on a certain day.

You could start your evening routine while you’re preparing dinner, or even after lunch. When your kids get home from school, immediately empty their backpacks or diaper bags and pack them for the next day.

Do your evening routine tasks in batches

To make your entire week easier, try to do some tasks all at once, like preparing lunches for the entire week on Sunday afternoon.

I use these reusable sandwich bags in different colors for each person, and you could also get different colored thermos and containers with different colored lids. Depending on how you organize your fridge, you could have a snack bin for everyone to use or designate shelves for each person.

You could also lay out your clothes for the entire week (I lay out an extra outfit so my kids have a choice every day – this hanging closet organizer has six compartments and side pockets for underwear, socks, or accessories).

Simplify your tasks

What’s your biggest struggle during your evening routine? Think about how you could make your evening easier.

If you struggle to prepare and then clean up a family meal, think of ways that you could simplify your meal. Instead of making a gourmet meal on busy weeknight evenings, try to plan one-pot meals or use your slow cooker or Instant Pot to cook while you focus on other things.

Using MyFreezEasy simplified my meal planning, but it also made my evening routine easier. There were so many easy freezer meals that I had already prepared (and it took almost no time to dump them in the slow cooker or Instant Pot). Also, instead of making meal prep a huge part of my evening routine, I was able to serve a healthy meal while focusing on other things that I wanted to include in my evening routine.

Simplify your nightly bedtime routine with this free printable evening checklist.

Download a free copy of your evening routine checklist here!

If you’ve been struggling to create an evening routine (or even if your morning routine isn’t working), try to simplify your routine. Even if you feel like you can’t get off the couch at night, you can create a routine to make your day better.

By only adding the necessary tasks to make your morning better, doing tasks earlier and in batches, and simplifying your routine, you’ll be able to create an evening routine that sets you up for success the next day.

These 5 tips made it so much easier to follow an evening routine. If you're looking to have a better daily routine (or even a simple morning),  these hacks will help you create a realistic plan to be more productive and have a better day.