The Everyday Spruce: 5 ways to make the most of my evenings

5 ways to make the most of your evenings | Growing Spaces

You may remember the collaborative project with Sarah-Lou that we named The Everyday Spruce. We posted regularly for the first half of last year, and then the busy summer months hit us. We never managed to find our groove again after that, so the project got shelved. However, Sarah-Lou and I both fancy reviving it, albeit in a much looser form.  It won’t be a full-on as it was before – I may try to post something monthly but we’ll see. It’s more that if and when we think of something that fits, we’ll blog about it.

Here’s a little reminder of what #TheEverydaySpruce project is all about..

‘To spruce’ in its most basic definition means to make neat… by association, it can also be used to describe the acts of fixing up, organising and beautifying. Simplify, clarify, beautify.

We’re using the term to describe a more general idea of shaking things out and hitting refresh. We’ll be sharing easy and useful tips, projects and ideas that we hope will inspire and encourage you to revitalise things a little, both around your home and in your daily routines. This isn’t about making things perfect, but about focusing on simple things that can help to make the everyday just a little bit easier, and, perhaps, more beautiful for you, too.

Now our home is mid-spruce at the moment as we tackle our seemingly endless snagging list, and I continue my mission to declutter. But it’s not my home that I want to write about today, it’s about me and my evening routine. How I think I need to put a little effort into improving it, and share some practical ways that might help you if you’re in a similar boat.

My evenings: I get the kids to bed (they’re usually in their rooms by 7pm). I cook dinner (if I didn’t already eat with the kids). I eat dinner on the sofa. In front of the TV. I stay sat in front of the TV until my bedtime (usually 10pm-ish), when I head upstairs and read for a bit before going to sleep. Every. Single. Night (pretty much). Depending on Ben’s shift pattern, he’s either with me, doing the exact same thing, or I’m on my own.

It’s actually pretty embarrassing, and I feel a little ashamed sharing the details of my evenings. Because I’m pretty sure this isn’t what most fulfilled and creative adults do. I am quite obviously watching way too much telly. It’s not the kids’ screen-time I need to address, it’s the amount of time I spend binging on box-sets and Netflix. These are hours upon hours of time wasted, when I think there are things that I could be doing instead that would make me feel happier and more content.

So I’m going to set myself five, easily-achievable goals to help me make the most of my evenings. I’m in no way promising to give up TV, but at least it will be balanced out by some other, better stuff.

Nominate TV-free evenings – two a week to start off with – whether Ben is working or not. Quiet time to myself is what I spend a good portion of my days craving, yet I completely ignore the potential hours that are there for the taking after the kids have gone to bed. Plan what I want to do with that time – it might be a craft project, some blog brainstorming, or to get engrossed in a really good book. I keep bitching about not making it to yoga class so I could actually get my mat out and do some at home.

Go out at least once a month with my husband. I can’t bear the term ‘date night’ (I don’t know why but it just makes me shudder), but sitting next to each other on the sofa night after night staring at a screen and not talking is probably not the secret to a wonderful relationship. We have agreed a once-a-month reciprocal babysitting arrangement with some friends, so we’re off to a good start here.

Cook more. I’ve fallen into the ‘quick and easy’ category of dinner that requires no planning, minimal thought, and very little in the way of effort. I love food, and I enjoy cooking, so why not do more of it? I want to get more organised and meal-plan so I have the ingredients I need, and then simply throw myself into the task. I think it’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day.

Eat dinner at the table. No more balancing my plate on my lap on the sofa. Dinner at the table doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out affair but it’s a great opportunity to chat. My phone should be nowhere near the table when we’re eating. Oh, and when it’s lighter and warmer we could even eat out in the garden.

Clear up before bed. How nice would it be to wake up with no washing up stacked by the sink, or dirty mugs sat on the side waiting to go into the dishwasher? This is part of a wider approach I’m taking to household chores and tidying (I’ll write more on that soon), and I think it’s a worthwhile use of some of my evening time. When I get undressed, I should put clothes that can be worn again away there and then. I set myself a mini challenge a few weeks ago to make sure my bedroom chair was clear of clothes before bed every night, but this week I went one step further and removed the chair altogether.

How do your evenings look? If yours are great (and it doesn’t take a lot for them to be an improvement on mine) have you got any tips on how I can shake mine up?









  1. March 11, 2016 / 10:59 am

    You’ve basically just described my life. I do yoga on Wednesdays, but every other day is as above. Definitely need to try to do more interesting things in the evening!

    • Heather Young March 11, 2016 / 11:01 am

      At least we now know we’re not alone in this! I’m determined to make a change..

  2. March 11, 2016 / 11:33 am

    I’m still struggling with carving out some time in my evenings – not helped by Littlest not being a great sleeper. I don’t get home until 7.15 and then it’s at least an hour before all 3 are settled. On a good night I can start dinner before I do bedtime but we don’t eat before 8.30 (N doesn’t get in until around 8) and then the best I manage is a bit of knitting whilst watching rubbish – not ideal

  3. March 11, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    You are not alone! Your post just made me feel so much better about myself… I’m really trying to get my act together and launch a creative business but a couple of hours nap times a week spent trying to get stuff done is never going to cut it! I should be using my evenings, but I am physically incapable of peeling myself off the sofa in the evening…

  4. March 12, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Love this revival! I’m so guilty of the same things, Heather. It’s a slippery slope into a creative rut when every night is played out the same. Joining you on shifting things up! x

  5. Oliveandiris
    March 13, 2016 / 6:21 pm

    Apart from the fact we eat at the table (my husband is obsessive about it) my evenings are pretty much identical to yours.
    I long for time to read / have a hobby but moan I don’t have the time .. Your post is definitely food for thought!

  6. April 12, 2016 / 9:03 am

    So pleased the project is back. I’ve been thinking about blogging some stuff like this a Bit so I’ll link it to this project and hopefully it’ll motivate me to keep going!

    But yes, evenings, me and Dave had a massive chat about it a couple of years ago after following a v similar sounding pattern to you and Ben, and have been pretty good with them since then. We got rid of the telly and only watch stuff once every couple of weeks now. We eat at the table and clear up every night too. But meals are thrown together, our issue is meal planning, would really like to tackle that. Second issue is since we sold the telly and committed to hardly watching it, we end up working almost every night! (Both freelance). So we need to designate time to just sit and talk! Anyway. Love this series and glad it’s back!

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