According to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February, so if one of your resolutions is flagging by now, you're in good company. If one of your resolutions was to read more this year, today I wanted to share with you some insider tips on how I read as much as I do (3-4 books a week) as a busy mom with a house to care for, dinner to cook, errands to run, and friends to socialize with. Maybe you'll find a tip here to help you get back on track to meeting your goal, or maybe you can share with me some of your tips and strategies for reading too.
Firstly, I love to read. I've seen little pictograms on Pinterest that say "She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live," and although I wouldn't take it quite that far, it is a fundamental love of mine, and is part of my daily life. I adore the written word, and have since I was a small child. If you're struggling with wanting to read more, I'd say that the more you do it, the more you will love it. If you already love it, you've got a leg up, as resolutions that aim to build upon an existing love, talent, or strength of yours are usually the most successful. However, I know that most people make resolutions about things they want to change about themselves, so if you are struggling to fall in love with reading, keep at it. If you're not loving a book, put it down and choose something else that you find more enjoyable. As you become immersed in books of different genres by different authors with different styles, you will find what you like, and then you're hooked. It's true that if you don't like to read, you just haven't found the right book- there is something for everyone out there.
As you find your favorite genres, it's great to have a favorite book or genre of books to fall back on when you're feeling in a reading rut, feeling uninspired by the book you're reading, or just having a bad day. I know that if I'm struggling through a tome, I can pop over to a little Victorian murder mystery and find my reading mojo again, then get back to tackling the first one. Also, I've read "Anne of Green Gables", "Jane Eyre", and "Persuasion" time and time again when I've been not feeling well or was going through something hard, and I love how they soothe my soul every time.
I have two small children who rise early, and are engaging from the moment they rise. until the moment they fall asleep. They need breakfast and clothes for the day, disputes need settled, the lunchbox needs filled, and my oldest has to be taken to the bus stop early in the morning. I've read advice from moms who say that getting up an hour before their kids allows them time to read in the morning and start their day. My hat goes off to them- I'm not an especially great early morning person, and so I stay in bed until my kids wake me up (which is still the crack of dawn), so early early morning reading isn't for me, but you may find it works for you. However, one or two mornings a week, my husband gets up with the kids and handles the morning routine, and I do often use that luxurious hour in bed to pick up the book on my nightstand and jump in where I left off the night before- and it is truly a lovely way to start the day, and something that makes me so happy every time I get the chance to do it.
Next, I allow my toddler to watch Sesame Street a few mornings a week. I sit next to him on the couch and read for a blissful half hour while he watches. It's not absolutely perfect- I don't prefer to read with the TV on in the same room, but I've learned as a mom to take reading time where I can get it, and this is a great time to get a few chapters in, and it leaves me much more fulfilled and centered than if I use the time to scroll through social media.
After lunch, my little one still naps. I often use naptime to accomplish things that have to be done that are difficult to do with a small one hanging off my leg (so most everything...), like household chores or working on Cozy Read tasks, but have made it a priority to set aside at least 30 minutes of his naptime for dedicated reading. It's a rare quiet time in my house throughout the day, and we are both more refreshed after his nap if I have used at least some of the time to refill and refresh my soul as well. Somedays (quite a few days actually) the 30 minutes extends to his entire naptime, and that is a treat too- it's easy to pop a load of laundry in the washer then read until it's time to put it in the dryer, move the laundry to the dryer, and read some more until it's done. Then I feel like I accomplished both the chore that needed to be done, and I got to read too.
Often after dinner, which is supposed to be family bonding time, but often feels more like WWIII at my house, I escape to my room and close the door for 20 minutes while my husband cleans up the kitchen with the kids. I take a few minutes to read and relax and take some deep breaths as I fortify myself for the epic battles ahead known as bath time and bedtime. Me and both of my children are highly sensitive people, and this downtime with a book has helped me immensely as a mother because I used to spend many of my evenings frazzled, exhausted, and teary. As they are learning how to recognize when they need some down time to recharge, I hope that I am setting a good example for them of what just 20 minutes can do for your soul. And, it's another few chapters of a good book for me...
Once I put my kids to bed, I usually enjoy a bath, and love to take my book in the tub with me, and after my bath, I often split my evening time between watching a few favorite shows on TV per week, journaling, and reading. I have about two hours after my kids go to bed that are mine to use as I please, and the bulk of my reading gets done this time of day. I love to read until my eyes are tired, and usually end up moving from my couch to my bed where I read until I feel sleepy, then turn on a guided sleep meditation and call it a night.
Outside of my daily routine, with little blocks of time interspersed throughout the day, I also carry a book with me when I go to appointments for the waiting room (although sometimes the US magazine with its celebrity gossip does win out). I suffer from migraines, and often read in bed with my Kindle on its lowest light setting when my head is hurting and I need to rest. The stories help distract me from how much my head hurts and help pass the time. I suffered from insomnia with both of my pregnancies, and often read for a few hours in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. When I worked, I always took a book with me to work and would read it on my lunch breaks or at times when things were slow, and loved having the little escape at work to recharge with a good story.
That brings me to one last tip- I adore print books, truly I do. I totally understand the love affair with the heft and the smell of a good book, the joy of turning the pages, and I read print books often, but I also have fallen in love with my Kindle over the years. It makes reading so very convenient. I check out a few books a week from the library online, load them up on my Kindle in 3 minutes from the comfort of my couch, and I never run out of reading material. If I finish a book at the Drs office, or when I'm in bed with a migraine, when my flight has been delayed, or late at night- bam, there's another ready to go at the touch of the screen. Also, there are more deals on new releases for the digital versions of books than at the bookstore, so if I'm going to purchase a book, the $3 price tag wins me over every time.
Finally, I have a few friends who have taken reading getaways- booked a hotel room and taken a couple of books, and went to stay a night or two alone, away from their kids, and recharged. That sounds amazing to me, and hopefully someday, I'll have the chance.
Now, to be clear, I don't get to read at all of these times and situations every day. Some days there is work to be done, some days I binge watch Netflix, some days I nap myself- but hopefully this has helped you to see the little blocks of time I find in my day to pick up a book. I'm sure you have these times in your day too- all it takes is paying attention for a few days to where you have a little time between tasks or during nap time, and asking yourself if you would like to use the time to read.
I hope these tips have been helpful, and that you find the time to read as much as you hope to this year. As you come to love to read, you'll find yourself looking for little blocks of time to squeeze in a chapter or two, and find that reading refills your soul when you are exhausted or stressed- like the quote says, "Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are." And that is my favorite part about it- that tiny escape into someone else's life, someone else's story, for a time.
How do you find time to read throughout the day? Love to hear your tips! What are you reading now? How do you find time to read with kids under foot or while working? I'm happy to help and give you reading tips and recommendations- just reach out to me!