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.