Finding Time to Read

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Topiary on lawn behind shelves of books.Photo Source: Nufkin

It’s one thing to say, “I want to read more this year.” It’s an entirely other thing to do it. Unless we are intentional in where we focus our eyes and our attention, time will pass away, and we miss a lot of good things, including good reads.

At the same time, the life of a mom is a busy one, and it can be hard to find time to read anything other than Goodnight, Moon. But we all know how good reading is for our brains and our hearts. There has to be a way to fit it in. If you have a reading plan in place, you will know what to read — and have it at the ready — when you do find those precious, but elusive moments for reading.

The following are suggestions for when you might be able to snatch a few chapters of a good book.

Pack a book in your purse or diaper bag. Instead of flipping through a magazine while you wait at the doctor’s or dentist’s, read a chapter of your book.

Make use of little minutes. Stuck in traffic? Waiting for the bus? Counting the minutes until the end of school or soccer practice? Pull out your book and get reading.

Let ’em play. Kids want to extend their playtime a few minutes longer? Read your book while the children play happily.

Turn in early. Head to bed 15 minutes earlier, but spend that time reading a chapter of your book.

Tune out. Find yourself randomly switching channels? Turn off the TV and pick up a good book!

Skip the cereal box. If you keep your books handy, you can turn your eyes toward a solid read rather than memorizing the back of the Wheaties box.

Take off. Get a mom’s morning out! Make arrangements for childcare, grab your books, and head for the library or even the mall — during early mornings. If you arrive before the stores open, you’ll find a cozy chair and a quiet place to read.

Soak it in. Tuck the kids in bed, run the bath water, add some bubbles. Sink down into a warm tub and read while your body’s muscles relax.

And if these don’t work for you, well, keep a book at the ready in the one place a mother can usually find two minutes of peace.

How do YOU find time to read?

P.S. This is a great thing to add to your time budget!

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  1. gotta say that all my books are stashed in the bathroom because that is probably the only place I have time to read them. And, for the record, I don’t really get even 2 minutes of peace there either. I know this will never change b/c I’m 35, and when I’m at my mom’s I’ll still bug her in the bathroom. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. This is a great post! Don’t forget that your kids are a lot more likely to learn to love reading if they see you reading for pleasure! I read a LOT. I always, always have a book in my purse, and if I’m eating alone, I always read while I eat. I read before bed, and I used to carve out some time to read after lunch – I need to get back to that.

  3. I read while eating alone, I would read 15 min to the kids( when they were little) and as they got older they each read 15 min to me of their own books.I read at what I common call down time, appts, waiting while on hold for the phone etc, bathtub, 15 min in bed before lights out, and 15 min BEFORE starting my day( ok after I let dogs out, they just don’t want to hold it LOL)

  4. I graze all day long! When I put the boys down for a nap, I will usually lay down with them for a few minutes to get them to sleep. I almost grab a book, so I’m reading while they’re falling asleep. First I read a book to them, and then I get to read my book of choice.
    My oldest has stopped taking naps, but I heard a great idea about making quiet time reading time. Even though he’s not old enough to read, he can look quietly at a book while I also read for 20 minutes or so. Plus, this is great training for our kids to teach them to love books and reading.
    I also read while I’m in the bathroom with them while they’re taking a bath.
    Plus, if you put the kids in front of cartoons all morning, you’ll have plenty of time to read. Kidding, totally kidding! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I have every Thursday night “off” because I need a break from the children, the housework, the house, etc. No, I don’t go to the bars to drink. I go to my local library and sit down and read a book for two hours – uninterrupted! I always come back refreshed.

  6. Love all of these suggestions and do a lot of them too. I am finding that I really need time to decompress before bed now that I am so busy with everything. I try to get in bed by around 9 or 9:30 so I can read until 10. I sleep better because I’ve relaxed and let my brain shut down a bit on the life stuff.

    I would love to see what kind of books you are reading and share suggestions. Are you on GoodReads? I sent you an invite.

    1. I got your invite. Thank you! It may be a few days before I can check that out. I will for sure be sharing what I’ve been reading this past month on Tuesday at the link up.

  7. When my kids were small, I kept a book in the bathroom, just like you suggested. It worked! We also started what we called “reading lunches” where everyone brought a book to the table. We also have established “quiet reading times” where we snuggle with blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and a book. It is time worth fighting for!

  8. I admit that I have a hard time allowing myself the luxury of just sitting down and reading. There are always at least a dozen things I think I “should” be doing instead of reading: dishes, laundry, tidying/cleaning the house, starting breakfast/lunch/dinner, getting the kids in the bath, getting the kids out of the bath…I know that everyone understands. It’s terrible – I feel lazy when I’m sitting on the couch just reading.

    The funny thing is, before I had children, I always had my nose in a book! My husband used to complain about it. I never felt bad about laundry piling up in the hamper or dirty dishes in the sink. I’m not sure what changed my mindset.

  9. Even with 3 girls and working full time outside the home I still find time to read. Mostly I read at night after I have tucked the girls in bed. But if I’m really into a book, sometime I will read while they are in the bath. I just sit on the counter and read while they play. Books on CD are a great idea too. I used to have a long commute and listened to them all the time.

  10. I read while I am nursing….all the time. While the big boys are playing video games or hubby watching something I don’t care for….I will snuggle up on the couch next to him but with my book. My books are always beat to shreds because I leave them lying around the living room so I can pick them up and have a quick moment. (kids are 9,6,2 and almost 6 mo). Love to read before I go to bed too and any moment that I am going to be waiting (doctors office) I am either stashing my reading in the purse or my knitting whatever I feel like doing that day.

    1. I used to get some great time in reading when I nursed my firstborns (twins). When the 3rd came along, the boys were needing too much direction/intervention for me to read while nursing.

  11. When my husband was driving to his office each day (he works from home now), he would take the time to listen to scriptures on cd. Even though he only worked 10 minutes away, he could often get 2-3 chapters in.

    I find that evenings work best for me, right after I’ve tucked the children in bed.

  12. I go to bed about 30-60 min early each night to read – but that is all I really get. I’m a librarian so I feel the need to read daily.

  13. I just discovered another great way to get some “reading” in, while being a busy mom {or soon to be mom and current babysitter, in my case}. I always thought books on tape/CD/MP3 only worked for people who have long commutes to work or some other such thing, but I recently checked out two books on CD from my local library and just listened to them while doing normal household tasks {cleaning the house, fixing dinner, baking bread, making cards, doing the dishes, etc.} and I “read” both of those books within two days. It is a little more difficult if you have little children underfoot, but it still works for those times when your hands and eyes have to be busy but you don’t need much brain power to do what you’re doing {like dishes}. It certainly worked for me!

  14. In the bathroom. I always keep a book there. I do a lot of your other suggestions too. I am currently reading Les Miserables with a couple friends. The fact that we are reading it together keeps me focused.

    1. I do this too! Every time I go to the bathroom, I “take my time” and spend a few minutes reading. I’m able to keep up with two bible studies and my personal goal of reading one book every two months this way. In fact, I’m usually ahead of schedule!

  15. good ideas- my 4 yr old is finally old enough for swim lessons by herself so I get to read for an hour every saturday!

  16. I steal away to Barnes and Noble! I’ve been trying to read Tribes by Seth Godin since Blissdom. I’m on Page 14 ๐Ÿ™‚

    My Bible reading is making progress though!

  17. I guess I am the odd one out when it comes to reading. I read several books a week. During the school year I can usually only get through 5-7 books a week, but during the summer I can get through at least double that. Those are just books for me, if you include the kids books it’s a much greater number. I read a lot and very quickly, one of the benefits of having to have read so much during graduate school I guess.

    It also helps that my boys read a lot. The 9.5 year old can easily go through 4 Goosebumps books a day, which amazes me because a year ago he would fight me to read One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. We read out loud a lot. I’ve discovered that the boys will sit there and listen while I read for hours, even my 11.5 month old will lay there or play nicely while I read to them. It probably helps that I’ve been doing the reading out loud to them daily since birth for long periods of time.

  18. In all fairness, all my kids are grown now, pretty much, so I can read whenever I feel like it. Mostly, I read with my morning cup of coffee, in bed. I know I did some reading-for-grownups when mine were littles, but I had 4 under 7 at one point so I’m not sure I read much more than the expiration dates on coupons back then. Or else it took me a year to read anything. I will tell you this: when the two youngest were about 5 and 8, I read grownup chapter books like “Jurassic Park” and “Watership Down” to them. The five-year-old probably just liked hearing my voice, but the eight-year-old was really into it. (I just skipped over all the ‘technical’ parts. I was happy to see most of Creighton’s books–we read a few–were pretty much void of things-I-wouldn’t-want-my-grandmother-to-hear passages.) We read a few pages or a chapter a night. They got to hear me read, and I got to ‘revisit’ some of my favorite books. And, of course, it was fun to read the Little House books to my daughter and the Boxcar Children series to my older boy!

  19. That’s a funny article and you’re right… who does have time to read more than “Goodnight Moon.” Cute suggestions and a laugh ๐Ÿ™‚