The One Thing You Should Do Before You Get Home From Work for a Relaxing Evening

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Transitions are hard. Switching gears throughout your day takes mental strength and focus as you go from sleep to morning routine, from home to work, from meeting to meeting, and most importantly in my opinion, from work to home.

For toddlers who have trouble transitioning between activities, many parenting coaches will recommend giving advance notice of the upcoming transition. Some even suggest setting some sort of timer so your child knows that in 5 minutes it will be time to put on his coat and go to school, for example.

Set Your Intention

It’s a good thing to know what’s coming and to be prepared. But because as adults, we’ve had so much practice transitioning, we don’t typically afford ourselves the same privilege that we do our kids. We rush from activity to activity without much preparation, without much thought, and without much intention.

If you’ve ever caught this episode of Marie TV, you’ll know that expert Brendon Burchard recommends that whenever you’re shifting gears between very different activities throughout your day, you:

“release tension and set an intention”

It’s a quick and easy exercise that you can do from anywhere. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths making sure that with every exhale you are letting go of any stress and tension from wherever it is you’re coming. Let’s say in this scenario - WORK. And then you set an intention for how you want to behave, what you want to focus on, or how you want to feel in this next stage - HOME.

That exercise alone can work wonders in the evenings as you’re coming off of a full day at work where who knows what happened. And you’re heading home with the kids or to get the kids and start in on the evening’s routines.

You can do it when you pull in the driveway at home before walking in the door to your kids. You can do it before you start your car in the parking lot at work. Or you can do it as you’re walking into daycare to do pick-up. All you need is a minute.

Take It a Step Further

If you make no other change to your evening transition, this one will be enough. It brings focus and intention to how you create an evening that you can enjoy. And It gets you thinking about your breathing so you can let go of your day and leave your work at work, at least for the next couple of hours.

But if you want to take it a step further and really set yourself up for a relaxing evening, here are some other things that have really helped me come home in a good mood, ready to enjoy my family, while others dread the “witching hour”.

1. Drink a glass of water

Whether it’s before you leave the office, while on your commute home, or the first thing you do when you walk in the door, drink a glass of water. I think the cure for many things is water. It’s awesome fuel and cleansing for your body to prepare it for the energy and stamina you need as you get kids through the evening meal and bedtime routine. Bonus, you can do it while you are setting your intention. Almost like a mini meditation.

2. Remind yourself of what’s for dinner

If dinner is one of the first things on your agenda for the evening, as it is for most working moms, remind yourself of what the plan is. Don’t walk in the door and immediately waste time looking in the fridge, checking your meal-planning notebook or trying to come up with something. If it’s take-out, where are you ordering from? If it’s an already prepped meal, what assembly is required? If you’re cooking from scratch, roughly know the steps. Having a game plan for dinner can relieve so much stress. Give it some thought before you get home. Have some sort of a plan, however loose.

3. Create tomorrow’s to-do list before you leave

It doesn’t matter how much you crossed off your list for today, you get to start fresh for tomorrow. Spend a few minutes before you walk out that office door to think about the most important 3-6 things you want to accomplish tomorrow, and put them in your schedule. Pick something that will feel so good to have done. Then walk away and head home. Tomorrow morning when you get in, you’ll have your plan already laid out for you and you can get right to work making the most of the work hours. And for your evening, you won’t have to think about what you didn’t get done, what you need to remember to do for tomorrow, you’ve already done that. Now, it’s time to focus on your kids.

4. Crank up the jams

I love a good podcast or audio book and advocate for using commute times to get in some of that learning and “self-care”, if that’s what you enjoy. But I also know that on some days, when you need a little energy, or you need to let off some steam, or you need to feel into whatever it is you’re feeling, nothing does the job like a good tune. Do what works for you. But I find that when I can find a song that I love, you know the kind that makes you want to belt out the lyrics and dance in your seat, I am in a significantly better mood when I get home. I’m smiling, I’m ready to have fun, I’m relaxed and ready to handle whatever my kids throw at me. Leave it to chance and try the radio, or curate your own “transition to home” playlist.

5. Name 3 things you’re grateful for

It’s no secret that everyone is jumping on the gratefulness/gratitude bandwagon, and for good reason. When you’ve had a stressful day at work, when you feel like life has just been one thing after another lately, it can be hard to get out of your head and into the present moment. And when you are headed home for the evening, your kids need you in the present moment. Not off in the land of stress, worry, and overwhelm. Do a quick gratitude practice before you get home. Say them out loud, think them in your head, jot them down in a notes app or on paper (depending on whether you’re driving or not). Name 3 things that you’re grateful for. Remind yourself that despite whatever type of day you’ve had, life is still good. And if you’re headed home with your kids following a pick-up, do the exercise with them. Make it a fun game to pass the drive time and instill a habit of gratitude in them.

Create The Evening That you Want

As a working mom, we all want to make the most of our evenings at home with the family. Our days at work feel long sometimes, or we feel guilty that we’re not at home with our kids all day. But then we waste those evening hours in a frantic pace of task after task. We bring home the stress of our workdays and create an environment that is not what we want. We want to be fully present, we want to have fun, we want to be relaxed.

The good news is, that is all up to you. And it starts with how you prepare yourself to have an evening like the one you envision. Whether it’s setting your intention, cranking up the music, or practicing gratitude, use what works for you. Set yourself up for a relaxing evening, a fun evening, an evening that you and your kids will enjoy.