Select Page

How Do You Start (& End) Your Days?

I first started writing when my oldest was three and my second was a newborn. I’d write about making homemade play-doh, turning a pillowcase into a superhero cape and mask, and why you should let toddlers “help” you around while you clean the house.

It was in the stage of life I was in. That’s what was around me.

It never fails to surprise me how fast those seasons change. That three-year-old is now a middle schooler, my middle guy is almost nine, and we also have a six-year-old. Our daily life at home looks much, much different.

In a recent episode of the podcast, Erin and I talked about routines—specifically, our own routines. She’s in the stage I was in when I started this website, and I’m firmly in the school-age kiddos era.

I said it on the episode, and I’ll say it here: my days are made when my mornings and evenings go well. The middle stuff can be a bit chaotic or full, but if I make the effort to make the bookends proactive instead of reactive—well, everything in between is less crazy-making.

morning and evening reading on bed

It got me wondering how other parents start and end their days. I asked some friends here to chime in:

“Mornings: Exercise! I swim twice a week, practice yoga twice a week, and run twice a week. Swimming and yoga for an hour, running for 45 minutes. Evenings: Honestly, watch a show on Netflix with my husband. I don’t really expect much of myself in the evenings.” –Katherine Willis Pershey

“I try to start the day with something I love, so knitting for thirty minutes or so and drinking coffee is part of my pre-kid wake up routine. At the other end of the day, I’ve started showering after the kids go to sleep. No one is banging on the door needing my attention or rushing me.” –Kara Fleck

“I like to try to end my day in bed with a cup of Sleepytime tea on my nightstand and something to read that is not on a screen—even if it’s only 5 minutes with a magazine.” –Katie Fox

“Mornings: If I can only mention one thing I try to do in the morning before the kids get up, it’s to pray. For them, for me, for my husband etc. Sometimes that’s super intentional with my Bible and a cup of coffee. Sometimes, like this morning as I’m recovering from the flu, it was in between hitting the snooze button. Evenings: And one thing I try to do in the evening after my kids go to bed? Honestly? I try to make sure I get to bed at a decent time. Now that I have older kids that’s really hard to do because ‘I’m finally alone! I can think my thoughts! The night is mine!’ But if I don’t get good sleep, I’m not giving my best to anyone including myself the next day.” –Kat Lee

“I don’t always wake up before them…but in the morning, I give myself time to sit and drink my hot caffeinated drink in silence. I need that time to wake up and be able to communicate as a functional human being. In the evening…I prep all of our homeschool stuff for the next day (organize books, print maps, etc.) so everything runs more smoothly and I’m not worrying about it as I go to sleep.” –Alysa Bajenaru

“Mornings: Read and/or write in journal with a cup of coffee close by. Evenings: We are in a new season because we have older kids that stay up later and sometimes I say goodnight to my husband before our kids because he gets up at 4am. But regardless of what time I ‘tuck him in’ my husband and I pray together. We close the day together in prayer.” –Caroline TeSelle

“I’m a horrible time waster at night—I’m just too tired! So about a year ago, I started going to bed when my son did on weekdays. Now when I wake up, I have plenty of time to journal, read for leisure and work research, and enjoy a great cup of hot tea. Last week, I was able to get in an hour or two of work before everyone else got going.” –Katie Clemons

“Mornings: Drink my coffee and read my Bible in peace. Evenings: Get the dishes done (either me or my husband), and relax with a book or a show.” –Nicole Bennett

“My kids are grown so they’re not at home anymore (tears/smiles), but one thing I used to do to get a head start on the next day was start a load of laundry; if I was super on top of things, I’d have one completed and in the dryer, and another one going in the wash. That way the next day a load would be ready to fold and/or dry.” –Robin Dance

“Mornings: I meditate for 6 minutes (at least) and try to practise yoga every morning before I hit the desk. I’m working on a book at the moment so my early mornings are getting earlier (4:30 at the moment!) but those quiet times before I switch my brain on are invaluable. Meditation specifically has been a game-changer for me this year. Evenings: In the evenings I like to reset the house (tidy kitchen sink, clear the dining table) so I can start with a clean slate in the morning. Aside from that though – cup or tea or a glass of red and whatever Netflix series Ben and I are currently watching. Right now: Daredevil.” –Brooke McAlary

Okay, readers, I’d love to hear from you now: What’s one thing you try to do in the morning before your kids wake up? And what’s one thing you try to do in the evening after your kids go to bed?

p.s. In my class, The Essentials, I share what I think are the 7 most essential things to keep afloat in order to not feel crazy. One of them? Morning and evening routines.

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Sarah M

    I always read my bible and exercise in the mornings…4X/week for about 40-45 min. If i have extra time and I don’t waste too much time on email, I’ll journal 3 pages, too. In the evenings I’m home I either read or…read next to my husband watching tv. 🙂

  2. Melissa W

    Mine is so simple…take a shower. I need to start my day fresh and if that happens I feel on top of the day. I’m not wasting time showering when I could be with little people. I’ve never been a night shower kinda girl! 😉 In the evenings I like to have the kitchen tidy like others have mentioned. I also prefer to get some reading in. After listening to the podcast, though, it’s made me really want to examine all this. What DO I need for peace of mine? My answers may change a bit in the near future.

  3. Heather

    I actually wrote last week about how I am in a season of no chance of a morning routine (teething baby and older early risers), but I still try to read a Proverb every morning sometimes using the Bible app on my phone. In the evenings, I always read, in bed, on my kindle app…usually samples that I have downloaded looking for my next favorite book 🙂

  4. Ellen

    I love talking routines and habits!

    Morning: shower (wakes me up!), coffee, Bible, journal, prayer. I usually am up about 45 minutes before my kids and that gives me time for these things. The combo gets me ready to do the day.

    Evening: Household tidy (clean slate), breakfast and homeschool stuff prepped, settle in with sparkling water on the couch to read/write/work on speaking notes/chat with husband. Toiletries, check on sleeping kids, go to bed… the focus right now is to make that happen earlier!!!

  5. Guest

    The only hard and fast I have for early mornings right now is to not look at a screen for at least 45 minutes. It sounds silly but it’s so easy to check my email. Instead I get up, sit with the kids at the dining table and talk about whatever they feel like talking about. They head upstairs to finish their morning ablutions before school and I sort out my plans for the day. Once they leave for the bus, I log on and start working.

    For evenings, after the kids are in bed, it seriously brings me joy to get the kitchen in tip top shape and do a quick pick up. This has gotten easier since I decided we would have clear counters. Then I visit with my husband or Mom and end by watching my favorite show on Netflix. I’ve seen every show so many times but I almost can’t go to sleep without watching an episode! Oh and NO screen time for at least an hour before I go to bed.

    So I guess a big key for starting and ending my day well is staying off the Internet and email. 🙂

  6. Missy June

    I’m a full time working mom of children ages 8, 10, 12 and 17. I like to pray before I even get out of bed and then get dressed and cleaned up prior to waking the troops. I don’t have a ton of time after they go to bed, but I use that to intentionally connect with my husband. We usually snuggle on the couch and I rub his feet or head for just a few minutes. This works as our transition cue from parents to people who love a adore one another.

  7. Ashley

    I try to say a quick morning offering prayer and get a cup of hot water/apple cider vinegar/honey/lemon before I eat or drink coffee. For a while I was getting up a full hour before the kids for quiet time but the toddler changed his schedule to 5:30 so that’s out for now. I don’t ask much of myself in the mornings!

  8. Adrianne | The Shelton House

    I love this! In the evenings, I make sure the house is tidy, swept, and wiped (three boys… Lots of wiping…). I love waking up to a house that is picked up because it helps my mind stay quiet and focused before the day picks up steam.

  9. Katheryn

    I get up and exercise every morning except Sunday’s. I usually time it so they are either still asleep or just waking up when I walk through the door. After they’re in bed at night I make sure the house tidy and then I either read or watch something with the husband.

  10. Linda Sand

    I’m not a morning person; no one wants to be around me before mid-morning. At an early age my daughter got herself up, dressed and poured her own cereal. That made both of us happier.

    That also meant I had long evenings after she went to bed to hang out with my husband and read and do crafts.

    She’s grown up now but we still keep those schedules when she comes to visit.

  11. Emily

    Two of my boys are early risers, so I get up, make coffee, and help with their individual schoolwork.
    My evenings are my free time! I read , watch a series, sew, or study. I may do a few quick chores so the laundry is set, and the sink is clear. I can’t function if the house is a mess!

  12. Ginny

    Mornings, I love to get up early but I don’t want to be rushed. I like to take my time. I prefer to run first thing in the morning but because of our schedules it doesn’t happen until kids are dropped off at school. I love to have time to read my bible and a few pages of a book (non-fiction). If I had the time I would love to spend my mornings painting. I’m a morning person so I slow down about the time that dinner is over. I have to have the kitchen clean, dishes put away and counters and tables wiped, sink cleaned and fresh towels for the morning. It makes me think of my working days when I was in Retail. We made sure the store was “closed ready to open”. It stuck with me.

  13. Theresa

    My morning routine. Drink a glass of water. Tidy any part of kitchen that got dirty after I tidied it the night before. Send husband off to work. Take shower. Time for tea and my day. My evening routine is try and get some reading done. Have some alone time, or after a few days I get crabby.

  14. Ally

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I love this format, I’d love to see you do more of it (maybe favorite podcasts as an idea?)

    I’m neither a morning or night person. All I can manage to do before the kids get up is pray and I use an Jesuit audio prayer app, called Pray as you go. It’s 10-15 minutes and it’s guided, so I don’t have to do a lot of thinking on my own.

    At night, I’m not productive either, I just connect with my husband, read or listen to an audiobook and we always do at least short prayer together.

  15. Anna

    I love this topic! So interesting but so useful, to figure out a good plan that starts and ends the day on a good note. As a homeschooling mom of 4, I get up before the kids, do a 10 minute workout, dress for the day and get something warm to drink while I do my Bible reading. Evenings are for long chats with my hubby, a bath or shower and getting to bed early.

  16. Melissa

    Up at 5 because I have one young child that’s an early riser. 5 minute meditation, short devotional, and then a workout. Evenings I’m reading which is my favorite. Not a lot of time because an early rise time requires an early bedtime.

  17. Leanne

    “My days are made when my mornings and evenings go well.” I’d never thought about it quite like that, but it’s so true. I use my mornings to get started on all my most important projects, and my evenings to wind down. If I don’t get my solo morning time, I almost never feel caught up or productive for the rest of the day. If I don’t get my time to relax in the evening, my happiness takes a dip. That one line really put those things into perspective for me, so thank you!

  18. Laura

    Thanks for your tips on the podcast! I started doing the 10 minutes of yoga right away and feel better already, even though I do a workout later in the morning. It’s nice to feel connected to my body. At night, I make a short list of things to do the next day, so that I have a focus when I get going since I am a night owl living in a morning person’s world. 🙂

  19. Lana Wilkens

    MORNINGS: I am seeing a trend (something relaxing or inspiring and some kind of warm drink!). I just had a baby and have had 7 weeks to get off my regular routine. I used to get up and spend time in prayer and reading my Bible before the kids got up, then I’d start making breakfast and get ready for my day. I love the kids waking up to me making breakfast, or me waking them up saying, “Breakfast is ready.” This saves sooo much whining for me. My kids LOVE food. I look forward to getting back into a routine…although it’ll probably look a bit different with another child in the mix.

    EVENINGS: Again, our routine is different than it used to be cause of the baby, but also cause my husband is about to start a new schedule. He used to be here and we’d do stuff together like games, movies, or read, but next week he’ll work from 2-10 and I’ll have time to do stuff on my own. I will probably use that time to study and learn about some of my interests (herbalism, homeschooling etc), but I usually set out stuff for school the next day and that’s the only routine I have…I have a lot to learn about this part of my life. 🙂

  20. Katie B

    Morning: I have to at least get a shower before my kiddos get up to feel like I can function. Evening: a nice cup of decaf hot tea while reading or watching a show (or Mets baseball during the season!) with my husband. Working on getting to bed earlier.

  21. Maurie S

    Morning: I lay in bed, awake, and enjoy the stillness.
    Evening: go to bed early!

  22. Moira

    I have an baby who wakes up at around 6.30 everyday, so my mornings are not my own anymore! But in the evenings the first thing I do after she’s gone to bed is to put all her toys and things away and out of sight, so my husband can feel like we have an ‘adult’ space. It makes such a difference! Then we can relax, talk about our day, eat dinner and usually watch a home renovation show as it’s our guilty pleasure.

  23. Patricia

    I love to drink 2or 3 cups of strong black tea in the morning while I read my Bible and pray. This is such a luxury now that I’m sort of retired. All the caffeine turns me into a very middle aged version of the Energizer Bunny. By evening I have pretty much run myself ragged, so relaxing with my hubby in front of the TV is all I can manage.

  24. Alicen

    My morning could use some work…

    I’ve been working on the evening routine and it helps so much with making my morning go smoother. Clean up from supper, make lunches for the next day, do a load of laundry, watch a show or two on tv, and head to bed.

  25. Nicole

    I teach grade two in Bangkok, and school starts early because of traffic issues. But, I still get up extra early (4:50) in order to start my day off right. This gives me an hour to have coffee, pray, journal, stretch out, read a few things online, sometimes message with friends back home in the states. Around 6:00 I get the kids up so they can also get ready for school, and I am out the door to walk over to school by 6:15.

    For evenings, I am tired and ready for bed by 8:30 usually; sometimes I stay up too late just trying to catch some more me time though. Evenings right now are basically just saying good night to kids and husband, checking the calendar for the next day’s happenings, spreading some lavender oil on the pillow, praying, and crashing out.

Join thousands of readers
& get Tsh’s free weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)

It's part of Tsh's popular newsletter called Books & Crannies, where she shares thoughts about the intersection of stories & travel, work & play, faith & questions, and more.