Monday, March 19, 2012

Making Time to Read

I love reading. It's been one of my favorite ways to spend my time since I first learned how to read. I was one of those bookworms that never spoke on car rides, disappeared for hours (only appearing for meals), and measured time by the books I had recently read. 

By the time I got to college, leisure reading was pushed aside for hundreds of pages of textbooks and hours of studying, not to mention club meetings, group projects, and softball practice. As I emerged from each semester, I took full advantage of the time off to catch up on a few good books.

Martin and I were married the summer after I graduated college, and one of our favorite pastimes together has always been reading. We'll have two different books, each read a chapter, then switch and read the chapter the other just read. And we've enjoyed reading books aloud to each other, or listening to audiobooks together.

Having young children has definitely cut down on my time to read, and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way! So, I'm going to share a few ways that I make time to read.
Read less news/blogs/facebook and more books. The Internet has a wealth of knowledge, but it's hard for me to find a cut off. There's always another article, another post, another status update. But books have pages and chapters and good stopping points (sometimes!).

Avoid relaxing with the TV or a movie. Oh, I'm so guilty of this. When naptime hits, I often find myself wanting to veg in front of the computer or a movie. But grabbing a book instead (or even just first!) is so much more rewarding.

Redeeming the time. When I'm waiting for water to boil, I'll grab a book and read a few pages. I've been known to read and blow dry my hair at the same time (granted, I don't blow dry often, but multi-tasking by reading gives me a nice excuse!). I found that the greater my desire to read, the more creative I am about snatching those few minutes here and there to get through an exciting book.

Listen to audiobooks. I love that I can be deep in a book while I'm washing the dishes or folding laundry. And Martin and I often listen to the same audiobook -- me at home and him on the commute to work. Usually I prefer my audiobooks to be great fiction, but I know some people that like listening to books on history, current events, or biographies too.

Keep a list: recent reads and to-reads. Goodreads is great for this. I try to write down a few sentences about each book I read within a few hours of finishing. I love being able to look back at my thoughts on each book, and often its interesting to see that what I remember 3 or 6 months after reading a book is slightly different than my initial opinion.

Let your children see you read. They model our examples, so make sure you model what you want imitated. I'm so grateful to have children who love books too, and I know that in large part that is because we place such a high priority on reading as a family.

Side by side reading. This requires training for both you and your kids, but I've found that its great for all of us. I sit on the couch next to one or both kids, set them up with a book (or basket of books!). The instructions are that they are going to read their books and I am going to read my book. I set a timer and we aren't going to talk to each other while we read. When the timer goes off, I usually read a number of books aloud to them.

I started small, just 5 minutes of side by side reading. It's really good for my kids to be able to focus on one task without skipping around, and to be self-sufficient even though I am right next to them. I don't usually set a timer anymore, but I'll tell them that I'm going to read a chapter in my book while they look through theirs. And now that my daughter is a little older, she often asks me about the book I'm reading too!

What is important to you? Most of these tips could apply to whatever activity is important to you. For me it's reading, but maybe for you it's sewing, or a home-based business, or something else. My house isn't neat as a pin, though it probably could be if I spent my reading time tidying up instead. But reading is more important to me than having everything perfectly put away. And I'm happy with that, and I'm so thankful that my husband is too! Of course, there's a point when the bathroom has to be clean and the clothes folded...and thankfully then I have audiobooks!

Is reading a favorite activity for you? I'd love to hear other creative ways you make time to read. And if its not reading but something else that you want to make time to do, I encourage you to set some big goals and break it down into small goals today!


  1. Hi, BA, and thanks for this post. Your creative ideas have given me incentive to try them to create some more time to play guitar, as well as read. I need to remember to keep the TV off, and do something else.

    1. Everything I wrote applies first to me! But I'm glad it helped too :-)


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