A Low-Stress Week Starts With a Reliable Weeknight Routine



If you’re a full-time working parent, you already know that there’s not a lot of room for error if you want to keep things running smoothly at home during the week. However, if your kids are also starting back to school (as many of them are at this time of year), you’ll soon find yourself having to keep up with things like sports, projects, grades, and special events on top of your regular responsibilities.

Keeping on top of everything gets much easier when you follow a solid weeknight routine — one that will make sure you’re always prepared for the next day.

Here are just a few of the ways you can simplify your weeknight routine to reduce stress and mistakes throughout the week.

Eliminate Dinner Deliberations

After a long day of work and all the pickups and drop-offs that accompany a typical school day, it can be a chore to come up with a hot, nutritious meal for your family.

That’s why one of the simplest ways to improve your weeknight routine is to remove the worries and energy it takes to make dinner decisions — and you can do that by planning ahead.

There are probably a million strategies and blog posts out there on meal planning. The key is to find a strategy that works for you. Whether you choose to invest in an InstaPot, “batch” your cooking by making larger meals and freezing leftovers, or simply just buy all your ingredients for your fresh meals for the week in advance to eliminate extra grocery trips.

Meal planning doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend hours of your Sunday prepping every weekday meal down to the last detail— unless that works for you. Instead, you may also choose to take advantage of one of the many meal subscription services that aim to make meal planning and grocery shopping easier. You can also invest in simple meals straight from the grocery store. Fresh spinach ravioli or frozen skillet dinners  are both easy to prepare but still lighter on preservatives than junk food and easier on your wallet than takeout.

Once you have your week’s meal plan ready, you can make things even easier on yourself by ordering groceries for pickup or delivery instead of spending hours on an in-person grocery trip.

“Stack” Your Weeknight Habits

As James Clear pointed out in his book Atomic Habits https://jamesclear.com/books making a new habit is easier when you link it to an existing habit that you’ve already established. He calls this practice “habit stacking.”

If you want to make your evening routine easier or more consistent, try “stacking” some of the essential evening tasks to make them second nature.

For example, it might be easier for kids to start their homework every night as soon as they finish dinner. Or, it might make sense for you to pack the family’s lunches for the next day right after you start the dishwasher. In another example, if you want to get into the habit of checking the family calendar together each night to plan for the next day, you could make it a habit to do so before you get up from the dinner table.

Making important evening tasks part of a routine will also help make sure you don’t forget anything important.

Start the Week with Clean Laundry

It can be a good idea to incorporate choosing clothes for the next day into your weeknight routine. That way, you can make sure everyone has what they need before they’re in a rush the next morning. And if this is part of your evening routine, it certainly helps if you can start the week out with all clean clothes.

Of course, “all the laundry” isn’t exactly an easy task to check off your to-do list.

You may be able to make a big difference in your weeknight routine by outsourcing some of your laundry to a drop off service or even a delivery service. (A few loads of cleaned and folded laundry each week often costs much less than the price of a biweekly house cleaner, but can make an arguably bigger impact on your more urgent daily to-do list).

If you can’t afford to outsource your laundry, you may be able to make things easier on yourself by doing all your laundry in one day — Sunday night, for example, or even Monday evening. In the book Laundry Love, textile expert Patric Richardson suggests that you can safely use the “speed wash” setting with warm water for pretty much every load of laundry to drastically reduce the time that it takes to do all your laundry for the week.

Dedicate Time to Unwind

As you design your weeknight routine and plan which essential tasks need to get done each night, don’t forget that relaxing is also an essential task.

If your routine isn’t realistic and doesn’t accommodate your need to stop and take a moment before you transition from work to chores, or from childcare back to computer work, or from cleanup to bedtime, you may just find yourself ditching the routine altogether.

Remember that you need time to be present, too. It would be a shame to just rush through the week without taking some time to take stock and appreciate the present.

On a closing note, I’d like to mention that I really believe that living in a well-designed home makes it much easier to relax while you’re spending time there. It’s easier to help your kids with homework and cook dinner when you have beautiful spaces to do those things in. If you are looking for design help for your home and feel like my work is a fit, please reach out to me.