Published on November 17, 2019

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We spend a third of our lives asleep—that means our bedroom is the most lived-in space in our home. It’s the room where we start and end our days, and that’s why the rituals that happen there are extra-important. In The Wind Down, we’ll be exploring the nighttime routines of people we admire and taking their advice to make the moments just before bed feel our best. 

Kai Avent-deLeon loves to unplug at the end of a long day. And we’re not talking about a put-your-phone-on-vibrate-and-leave-it-in-the-other-room type of unplugged—she turns the WiFi off and all. 

You probably know Avent-deLeon as the creative force behind Brooklyn’s über-cool concept store–meets–coffee shop Sincerely Tommy and the more recent S, T, Eat x Stay, an outpost of the former with a boutique hostel upstairs and a seasonal, plant-based eatery below. The entrepreneur’s early mornings are reserved for reading and snuggles with her 11-month-old son, Ché, followed by meditation—then it’s off to the races, juggling her time between running errands, overseeing the build-out for a new location, and holding down the fort at ST. 

With two growing businesses and a family in tow, finding time to decompress is no easy feat—so in the evenings, she chills out like the best of them. Ahead, Avent-deLeon shares her nighttime routine in full. 

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Photography by Meghan McNeer

Family and food first: I get home around 5:30 p.m.; then it’s bath time for Ché. I love to cook, so I often make dinner. There’s a Senegalese grain called fonio that I’ll whip up with ackee and okra, and I’ll pair it with a big salad of baby arugula and microgreens. After dinner, Ché and I will take a walk in the neighborhood. My grandmother lives in the brownstone next door and my mom is around the corner, so we’ll pop in for visits. 

Deep breaths: I treat my home as my sanctuary. We’ve worked hard to maintain a lot of the original fixtures in our historic house, but we can’t say where all of the materials came from or how old they are. That’s why I love my Dyson—it not only purifies air allergens but also toxins like formaldehyde, which could have been used when the building was first constructed.

Skin-care saviors: I barely had a routine just a year ago, but as I’m getting older, I’ve realized that I need to be more mindful of taking care of my skin. I use a light cleanser at night and again in the morning. Then I finish it off with a drop of oil and vitamin E. 

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Photography by Meghan McNeer
imagePin It
Photography by Meghan McNeer

Best bed: I just got a eucalyptus-based comforter and I couldn’t be happier—it’s so light and fluffy. I sleep on linen sheets because they’re lightweight and easy, and they’re almost always white. As far as pillows go, I sleep with one even though we have four on the bed. 

Midnight snacks: Right now, I’m really into pickled okra. In the evenings, I’ll have a cup of rose tea, but I’m also a huge red wine lover, especially biodynamic ones. If I can have a glass occasionally, I consider it a success, though I have to be mindful because I’m still nursing.

Dance party: Ché loves to dance, so we put on lively music like Afrobeat and go for it until he’s tuckered out. Afterward, I’ll nurse him and put him to bed. To prepare his room for sleep, I cool it down using Dyson’s Pure Cool Me—a personal purifier—and I feel better knowing he’s getting a good night’s rest with purified air.

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Photography by Meghan McNeer

Aromatherapy: My partner, Anthony, loves to burn incense, which I find so nice and comforting. It has a light musky smell that’s not too intense. 

Nightstand essentials: My bedside table is a sacred space for me. On it, I keep a photo of my parents that was taken in the ’70s, a sound bowl, notebook, a few books and crystals, and about 50 photos of my son.

Unplugged: We want to be present with Ché, so we do our best to not be on our phones when we’re with him, and we avoid having the TV on or our laptops open. Once he’s in bed, I’ll answer emails, but I try to put the computer away by 9 p.m. I’m a big fan of watching or reading something that will help me relax—right now it’s Mindful Parenting by Kristen Race. It’s all about being in the here and now and making sure your child feels that, as well. At the end of the day, I shut down the WiFi and place my phone in another room.

Cleanup: I shower at night because I like to have that extra time in the mornings to sleep. I start getting ready for bed around 8 p.m. but don’t fall asleep until midnight or so. My dream bedtime, though, is 10 p.m. One day…

Lights-out!