Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Finding Time to Read in the Nitty Gritty - The Bookish Mum
We're back talking about how to love reading and books as a mom, the first part of this series on why we should keep reading can be found here.
Now for the tough part -- actually figuring out when to read while you're cleaning up messes, nursing babies, containing meltdowns, and making supper in a haze of exhaustion from no sleep at night!
You don't need free hours - but stolen minutes add up faster than you think
Before we begin practicing new habits in our daily routine it's easy to believe we need to clear out empty blocks of time in order to do accomplish one more thing. But what happens more often than not is that we can accomplish and enjoy things even in small amounts of time. This is definitely a skill I've gotten better at since becoming a mom, and in some ways it necessitates a letting go of ideals of perfection we may have, and only tackling things we can finish properly.
We don't need to expect that reading requires endless free hours to devout to thick, impressive books. Sometimes all we can manage is to read five minutes here, five minutes there. Maybe instead of picking up the phone as the kids play outside we read a few pages of a novel. These few minutes add up to pages, then chapters, then books faster than we'd think. As little as ten or fifteen minutes a day spent reading can refresh your mind and see you through a good book faster than you'd think.
If we want to be successful at building a routine of reading everyday it's best to look at your day and the demands of your kids and babies and find the spot where it is typically easiest to get a couple minutes to yourself. Of course every day changes, and you don't have to read every day, but if the routine of reading is built into your normal day you'll find it easier to read and build the habit of reading books into your life. Just like in prayer when we turn our minds to God at regular times, our prayer life then becomes much easier, so too any other habit that we wish to get better. If a regular time of day allows you to sit, sip a warm drink, enjoy some peace and quiet (or as close as you can get) while reading you'll feel much more successful.
For many moms nursing a baby provides a good time to sit. If you're driving kids to and fro and have to wait in a car -- bring a book. Maybe you have a built in relaxation time of a hot bath after the kids are in bed-- that is a perfect time to read. Or those twenty minutes the kids are enjoying a little screen time could be devoted to reading instead of folding laundry. Sometimes we need to reorganize that chores come second to caring for ourselves when we have peaceful time in our day. There will always be laundry, but the precious commodity of quiet time needs to be spent in the way it serves you best. It's your best bang for you mama buck, so to speak!
These are just some ways to help you discover time you might not have thought of, but it really depends upon what suits you best. I get a little squirrely if I don't read even a little every day, I usually manage to fit in a couple minutes in the afternoon during my mandated quiet time for the kids while the babies nap when I'm not out of the house, but I always read before going to bed. I'm a major creature of habit and I've found if I don't read in bed I can't fall asleep anyway -- my nerdiness impacts my sleep.
Don't worry if you're not plowing through books at a harrowing pace. Sometimes it takes me months to finish a book, but the time spent reading it was much more rewarding than the end goal of a finished novel.
Read what you love with no guilt
I know most of us moms are brilliant. We've got degrees, we've got blogs, we've got past jobs where we worked circles around other people, we may still be working circles around people and so we feel as if we should be reading "Important Books" all the time. But the beauty of being at home, being our own bosses of our days (my two year old just laughed at me typing that), and being able to freely pursue what we love means that we can choose to use our reading time and our minds on what we find the most enjoyable, not just what seems practical.
Do you love young adult fiction? What about favourites from your own childhood? If you're a fan of mysteries or thrillers, then by all means start reading them! There's nothing wrong in giving yourself the time to relax and enjoy the light-hearted beach read or the science fiction you'll never admit to reading.
If we're going to feed our souls with the wonder and inspiration that comes from story, then reading should bring us joy -- not a feeling of burden. Choose to read what brings your heart happiness.
These tips aren't groundbreaking, but I think that these three ideas of appreciating the small, short moments we can use for reading, building a routine of reading into our day, and reading what we love are the easiest ways of picking up reading again or reading more as a mom in the midst of a busy day. What works best for you? Or, what doesn't work at all? I'd love to hear about your experiences!
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