My Organized Days Start with Organized Nights

posted by Andrea | 05/2/2014

organized days

One of the questions I’m asked on a very regular basis is how I seemingly stay so organized and “on top of things” with a toddler, an infant, lots of home projects, and an at-home business.

While I do make a very conscious effort to stay as organized and as “on top of things” as I can, I know it’s not always the case. So before we get too far, I’d encourage you to read this post if you feel even slightly defeated by comparing your life to what you THINK I accomplish on a daily and weekly basis. 🙂

Since Simon’s birth, and adjusting to a new person and a new schedule, I feel like I’ve had to get THAT much more organized in order for things to run smoothly. So far, things are going as well as can be expected — and as I thought about what Dave and I have done to help this transitional time continue to run so smoothly, I realized one key factor.

My organized days almost always start with organized nights.

To put it a different way:

The reason I’m able to stay organized and “on top of things” during the day is because I take the time to get organized at night.  


You see, every night after the kids are in bed, Dave and I spend about 30-60 minutes catching up on the current day and planning ahead for the the next day. During that time, we don’t do any blog or school work; we simply do all those little things that we might not have had time to complete during the day.

For example: 

We fold and/or put away any laundry that I might have washed that day. I might also get another load ready to go on a delayed cycle so it’s ready for the dryer the following morning.

We finish cleaning up anything in the kitchen, wash/dry dishes, clean out the dishwasher if necessary, wipe down the counters, etc.

We pick up toys, books, crafts, art projects, and any other baby/toddler items that don’t need to be sitting out.

We get the mail, take out the trash, respond to any voice messages, and reply to any emails still in our Inbox.

We fold blankets and pick up pillows (a.k.a. Nora’s forts), and declutter the main living spaces of the house.

Dave packs his lunch and I defrost anything I’ll need for tomorrow’s dinner.

Dave packs up his school bag and I make sure the diaper bag is restocked and ready for any activities the next day.

I look over the current day’s to-do list and try to cross off any of the little tasks I didn’t have time to complete during the day (sweep the floor, dust, file papers, etc.)

We make our to-do lists for tomorrow and “debrief” about anything we feel the other person needs to know.

After we’re finished with that, we take showers, get ready for bed, and then Dave works on school stuff while I work on blog stuff until we go to bed.

washing dishes

No, it’s not the most glamorous life — however, since we both have jobs that require working from home, the evening hours are often the best time we have to get a lot crossed off our to-do lists.

Here’s a general run-down of our nights from about 6pm – 11pm

6:00: Finish Dinner + Kitchen Clean Up

  • One of us cleans up the kitchen while the other one holds/feeds Simon and plays with Nora.
  • We start the dishwasher if necessary and wipe down all the counters
  • We stack any dishes that need to be washed next to the sink (we’ll do them after kids are in bed)
  • Dave packs his lunch and I get anything out of the freezer for tomorrow

6:30: Play

  • If the weather is nice, at least one of us will go outside with Nora or we might all go for a walk
  • If the weather isn’t nice, Dave usually takes Nora upstairs to play while I get some stuff done (Simon often takes a cat nap after dinner)

7:30: Bath time

  • Dave gets the bath ready and I give Simon a quick bath (usually every other day).
  • Dave then he gives Nora a bath while I get Simon ready for bed and feed him one more time.
  • Nora plays in the bath for a while 🙂

8:00: Winding down

  • I put Simon to bed (we’re lucky that he usually goes to bed relatively easy and WAY earlier than Nora!)
  • Dave usually gets Nora a snack while I take a shower and cross a few more things off my list
  • Nora gets to watch one show on the iPad while she eats her snack — which allows Dave to finish a couple things on his list, wash dishes, etc.
  • Dave takes his shower and gets everything ready for tomorrow while I read Nora a few books and we pick up her books and toys

9:00: The bedtime process begins

  • Since Simon was born, Dave has been taking over Nora’s bedtime process — which usually takes well over an hour. Basically, Dave brings Nora up to her room, reads her one book, turns out the lights, and then has to sit there until she falls asleep.
  • He often watches sports or a movie on his phone — or he’ll check his email.
  • Meanwhile, I’m downstairs folding laundry, cleaning out the dishwasher, and catching up on all those little tasks from earlier today that I didn’t have time to get to.

10:00: Back to work

  • Dave is usually finished putting Nora to bed by 10:00. He might wrap up a couple things and then he starts grading or doing other school work.
  • After I’m done crossing a bunch of little things off my list for the day, I try to get a few blogging things done before I turn in for the night

11:00: Bedtime

We try to be in bed by 11:00, but sometimes it’s a bit later, and sometimes it’s earlier — it just depends on how bedtime goes with the kiddos and how much work we need to do.


Keep in mind this is just a really general evening schedule. There are definitely nights when we let the dishes sit and items on our to-do list go undone. We don’t ALWAYS stay home at night — especially on the weekends or if friends/family are visiting. There are other times we’re just tired and go to bed at 9:30pm (honestly, I’ve been sleeping by 9:30 many nights since Simon was born!)

But for the most part, this is our nightly routine and we do it almost every night (even if we don’t necessarily feel like it) because we know how much it helps us to simplify and organize the day ahead. Plus it helps me sleep better knowing that I’ve finished all those little things and can wake up to a clutter free home the next day.

I realize many of you might think we’re too busy or trying to do too much — but this a choice we’ve made for the lifestyle we want.

This is how I look at it:

Parents who stay at home with their kids sometimes sacrifice income and a creative outlet.

Parents who work outside the home sometimes sacrifice time with their kids.

Parents who work from home (like me) sometimes sacrifice free time.

In many ways, I have the best of both worlds by being able to work from home, contribute to our finances, AND be there for all Nora’s hilarious quotes and Simon’s milestones. However, something has to give. And for me, I’m MORE than willing to sacrifice some of my free time in the evening to help the rest of my day, my family, my home, and my business run smoothly.

After all, I usually get at least some sort of afternoon nap these days 🙂

nap time

As I mentioned in this post, daily maintenance is key — so by doing these things EVERY night, they just become routine and really don’t seem like a huge chore. In fact, after a long day of dealing with poopy diapers, toddler temper-tantrums, and lots of tears, I often look forward to this super productive time of day.

For those of you who find it difficult to be productive in the evening, you could try waking up earlier and doing some of this in the morning. I just personally like to get it done before I go to bed.  Also, as a former “morning person” it took me a while to switch over to being more of a “night owl” — simply because I realized this often is the ONLY time of day when I could get a lot accomplished (you can read more about that process here).

I know some of you might think this is crazy — but I honestly do think my “crazy” evening routine is one of the key reasons I’m able to keep the rest of my home, life, and business simplified, organized, and running smoothly. 

In my experience, it’s not necessarily EASY to stay organized and live a simplified lifestyle. It takes work, hard work, but it’s 100% worth it if you ask me… and I KNOW Dave would agree too!

Do you have any other “staying on top of it” secrets?

top image credit

Filed under: LifeOrganizingHomeDaily Life

Leave a comment


  1. Kathy Maguire


    You are blessed with a very helpful husband. Many women don’t have that luxury.


  2. Weekend Reading: May 3, 2014


    […] My Organized Days Start with Organized Nights | […]

  3. Simple Changes: Get a Load of Laundry Ready at Night | littlemissdebbie28


    […] I started exercising in the morning.  Shortly after putting that in place I read a blog post on which triggered the idea of getting a load of laundry in the washing machine at night, but waiting […]

  4. Sandra


    Andrea that’s great now that you’re seeing it at 8 weeks and that you can have that bit
    of routine! 🙂



  5. Sandra


    I’d say humor is also a good way of staying “on top” of things.


  6. Interesting Links I Love


    […] is a mom with a toddler and new baby. I appreciated her motivation that Organized Days start with Organized Nights. I believe this has long been my Mom’s philosophy and one that I am now embracing, […]

  7. Shelley Dean


    I loved this post. I agree with all what you are saying, however sometimes I don’t have the energy to organized everything at nights. I have 1 daughter and I work full time. I wake up every day at 5 am. So honestly by the time i put my daughter to bed I am exhausted. Not sure what I can do to no matter what finish or get organized at nights. Any recommendations.


    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Shelley, I totally understand what you’re saying… Dave and I are both up around 5:00 and Nora takes FOREVER to get to bed at night. I think for me, it just comes down to the fact that I know (from lots of experience) that if I don’t “do it now” my life will continue to get more disorganized and more stressful. Yes, I’m sometimes tired and don’t feel like doing it now, but I know that in the long run, taking 10 minutes to do something now will save me lots more time and stress later on.

    Also, remember that even 5 or 10 minutes of focused work is better than nothing!


  8. Jennifer


    Your posts about productiveness always impress and inspire me. I have to try to get all those little things done throughout the evening because our house is small and my son is a light sleeper. I play with him and when something is holding his attention, I try to get one little task completed. Many times when I have tried to do dishes or laundry quietly I haven’t been very successful and have woken him up. I don’t even try to do things after he’s in bed anymore except check emails and read. I wish my husband was so helpful. I love him to death, but he just isn’t very helpful. He’s not self-initiating and doesn’t pick up on routines either, so I always have to tell him what needs to be done for bedtime, to get ready for school, etc. He’s very sweet and loving and supportive, so I’ll keep him!! Just gotta work on communicating my needs. Do you have any advice for that, or is Dave just perceptive and/or as diligent as you are naturally???


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jennifer! It sounds like you’ve found a routine that works for you and your family. Nora was/is a really light sleeper too, so we didn’t do as much at night when she was sleeping on the main floor. Now she sleeps upstairs and we can get A LOT more done.

    As for the hubby, here’s a post I wrote kind of about that. However, the main thing I would say is you DO need to ask. When we first got married, I would often get frustrated with Dave because he would pile dirty dishes in the sink after noticing that the dishwasher was clean (when hello, just clean it out!)

    He flat-out told me that he wasn’t used to naturally looking for things to do and that if I wanted him to do something, I had to ask. So I asked, and he really never complained. Now, 8 years later, he’s better and seeing those things that need to be done (and he likes routine so that helps too).

    I just read your comment to Dave and he busted out laughing because we BOTH joke about how he is one of the LEAST perceptive people ever… and he knows it. He’s getting better at noticing what needs to be done but mostly, I still have to ask.


    Jennifer Reply:

    Ok–maybe it’s a guy thing, and not just my guy. Thanks for sharing, and for sharing with Dave. For some reason, thinking about him laughing makes me laugh and not so frustrated with my guy. I’ll just keep asking and telling and hope it sinks in some day.


  9. Organizing Life With Less


    Andrea, I always LOVE how personal, practical, and real you are in your posts! You write about topics that most people think about, but rarely talk about (or even dare talk about at that!) I really appreciate your candidness and even though I do not have kids, it is still refreshing to read these type of posts and read about how you live a REAL life. Thanks for sharing Andrea!


  10. Jane


    One too many days waking up late has trained me to get as much done at night as possible. If I can do it the night before instead of the morning, I do it. And on those few odd days when the alarm doesn’t go off for whatever reason, I have less stress knowing most stuff is already to go (backpacks, lunches, clothes).


  11. mary willis


    I do the same thing with my 2 year old as Dave does except I breastfeed my 4 month old and use my phone to make list, email until she falls asleep. My husband works for the railroad so most nights its just me and I do not always get laundry put away but try to at least have kitchen clean we have 5 kids.


    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — you must be super woman! I can’t even imagine getting 5 kids to bed every night without Dave around. Sounds like you’re doing OK if you even get the laundry put away SOME of the nights 🙂


  12. Kerrie


    That is so encouraging! As a fellow morning person, it’s good to see how your schedule can change to make life a bit easier. I’m having baby #2 any day now, and our toddler gets up really early, making it hard to get much done in the mornings. I haven’t been able to figure out how to get everything done, but your schedule has some great ideas. I love how practical your tips are for different stages of life!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kerrie, and congrats on baby #2.
    Nora gets up pretty early to (sometimes by 6:30) but fortunately, if I can fee Simon around 6:00, he’ll go back to bed until around 8:30ish. This means, I can get Nora dressed, fed, and working on something (playing, coloring, etc) while I quickly get dressed and ready — all before Simon gets up. Obviously, I’d rather sleep in later, but it’s also nice to have a little time with Nora in the morning.

    Give yourself at least 4-6 after the new baby and I’m guessing you’ll start to see a few small “patterns” or “routines” start to fall into place. I’m starting to see it now at 8 weeks and it makes me feel like theres hope of more productive days ahead!


  13. Elizabeth D.


    We have had our house on the market for almost 9 months, and I have an almost 3 yr old and a 1 yr old. We get about 2 showings a week on average, so my house has got to be clean all the time…oh did I mention both are boys? And my husband works 24 hours shifts at the fire station?! Organized nights are my KEY to the past years survival ( though I’m about to stop cleaning if no one is going to buy this house!); I have found something as small as setting out clothes for the next day is so much better, and having an unloaded dishwasher and clean kitchen makes the morning better. I used to have a laundry “day” but now I just do a load whenever a basket is full so I don’t get caught with piles on unfolded laundry or baskets of dirty laundry for strangers to look at! Waking up to a dirty or even cluttered house can make my day seem like a drudge. I would rather give up my “free time”, which is usually wasted, and have a happier, cleaner home.


  14. Debbie W.


    I like the idea of getting a load ready to wash early in the morning! I don’t have a timer on my washing machine but after reading this I’m thinking it could be helpful for me to load the washer at night and just push the “start” button as soon as I get up. Then I can have a load washed a lot earlier than I do now. This is a good post to read – it’s making me think of what else can I do in the evening that I don’t currently do.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie. And yes, even if you don’t have the delayed start feature on your washing machine, it’s SOOO nice to just be able to push the start button in the morning and have a load of laundry going right away. That’s a huge time-saver for me!




    That’s exactly the kind of routine I had when my kids were at home – except the working at home part. After they went to bed, we put the house back together and prepared for the next day and then sat down on the couch and watched a little tv. Pretty much the same general routine every evening.

    But preparing for tomorrow the night before is definitely the way to go. By the time tomorrow gets here, things are already moving fast. I don’t have kids at home anymore but I still have a similar schedule. It works!


    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like a good routine to me — and Dave and I are usually watching something on Netflix or a show on TV while we work. Multi-tasking 🙂


  16. Amy


    I so have to show my husband this post. You could almost be looking in our window at night!

    We both work outside of the home and it is much easier to get everyone going in the morning when you walk downstairs and don’t see dishes, toys, blankets etc. There is also less temptation to get off the morning routine.

    I also have my own “zone cleaning” I do every day from 4:30-5pm. That is right when we get home and the kids need a snack and downtime from the day. One half hour show and I challenge myself to get the mail sorted, dishes put away and one “area” cleaned up or organized. Alot can be done in 30 minutes when it’s just maintenance.


    Andrea Reply:

    I love the zone cleaning — doing a little bit every day is a fabulous way to stay on top of things! And I love that you set those challenges for yourself to get so much accomplished during on TV show. I do that with commercials — try to get XXX done during each commercial break!


  17. Demaroge


    I think I was reading here on your blog and this really has been helping me. ‘Do it now; the person I am in the morning will thank me.’ (That is a loose quote off the top of my head!)

    It really has been helping me. I actually think…. I will do it now and thank myself in a few minutes! LOL! So silly the ‘tricks’ I have to do to trick my darn self! LOL


  18. Rochelle


    I love this post, because I can so relate! As a mom of 5 (soon to be 6), night time is the only time that I am productive. People often ask me, why I stay up so late at night & what I do during the evening. I am not a “veg out” in front of the TV kind of person, so I don’t mind getting organized at night to make the next day run more smoothly.


  19. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving


    I’m becoming more of a night person, too, for the main reason that I have both hands available to do things then! My baby is a good napper during the day – but prefers those naps to be in my arms! Until he learns to do otherwise, I’m getting good at doing things one handed (like type this comment) and use the night time hours to be productive. And yes, afternoon naps help!


    Andrea Reply:

    I never used to be a napper (and honestly, I’m still not) but I can tell if I don’t get my 15-20 minute “rest”. I’ve become used to it and it really does help me energize for the rest of the day!

    Enjoy all your one-handed tasks 🙂


  20. Kim {Pinspired Home}


    I try to sit down on Sunday night or Monday Morning and make a plan for the week using a “week at a glance” notepad I picked up at the dollar store. On it are appointments, tasks that need to be accomplished, and our weekly meal plan.
    I’m not nearly as organized and disciplined as you, but on the weeks that I take the time to write out a game plan, my weeks go much more smoothly. 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Kim, we also do something similar to you — sitting down on Sunday afternoon and going over the plans for the week. Obviously, this isn’t too difficult for us since we don’t have older kids with busy schedules, but it’s still really helpful to look ahead. In my opinion, ANYTHING you do to plan ahead is worth it. Sounds like you have a good system 🙂


  21. Organize 365


    🙂 I started taking baths at 8 pm when my kids where little too. I LOVE my nighttime bath.

    I love these peeks into your day. I can always glean something to make my routine run a little more smoothly too.

    Looks like you have had a MUCH easier transition to being a mom of two!



    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lisa! And yes, it has been an easier transition — mainly because I actually had some idea of what to expect this time 🙂


  22. Carrie


    It is so nice to hear from another night owl. I have tried to be a morning person, but it just doesn’t work. I also try to get everything done at night.

    One thing that you do that I always find very helpful is to shower at night. It saves so much time in the morning, plus I can’t stand going to bed without being clean.


    Andrea Reply:

    Haha — I’m actually a MAJOR morning person. I’m not sure if you read to the end of the post or not, but I had to train myself to be more of a night owl — and it took many months to do. I would much MUCH rather get up early and be productive then, but that just doesn’t work with our schedules right now because Nora usually wakes up by 6:30 and Simon is up several times in the night yet. Plus, if I wake up early and make any noise, Nora will be up ever earlier!

    I will say that I ALWAYS take my shower at night — no matter what, because yes, it does save time in the morning. Plus, I sleep better when I’m clean 🙂