The Reading Life
“How do you find time to read?”
“I’d love to read more, but I just don’t have the time.”
Those specific statements or some variation on them are the things I hear most often if the topic of books and reading comes up. I do read a lot, and I always have. My childhood was punctuated by library trips, and if my bookstack was not partially blocking my vision by the time I made it to the checkout, my mom had given me time limit 😉 I don’t think I’ve ever truly slowed down. In the past 12 years (the years since Goodreads became a thing and I started tracking my reading) I’ve read between 100-140 books per year. And that does NOT include the hundreds of picture books I read to the kids for pleasure and school!
But here’s the thing–I don’t have any more time than anybody else. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. However, I do know that it is difficult to find those pockets of time to devote to a personal interest, especially when you’re in the trenches of motherhood. It is hard to find the mental energy to do something that you feel requires effort, even if you know it would ultimately benefit you. There are seasons where it is more difficult to find stamina for these pursuits than others. But I have found it to be so rewarding, and such a good way to hold onto a piece of who I am outside of motherhood.
And if reading isn’t your thing, you may at least get some ideas to carve out time for whatever your thing is!
5 Tips for Finding Time When Your Hands Are Full
- Track the time you spend on your phone. Most phones now have an app or widget that will do this for you automatically if you look for it. I know, I know, we all use our phones for good and useful things. I rely on mine for critical information about my son’s blood sugar. I use it to do banking and pay bills. I also waste an appalling amount of time on the thing. Setting up the time tracking doesn’t force you to do anything except get honest about the amount of time you spend on your phone, and what you’re doing while you’re on it. What you decide to do with the information is up to you.
- Listen to audiobooks during repetitive work. My favorite time to pop in an earbud with a book is when I’m washing dishes or folding laundry or making dinner.
- Have different books or activities suited to different levels of energy. I don’t always feel like reading my hardest book. However, reading is more relaxing to my brain than anything else I do. So, I make sure I have an easy fiction read going for those times when reading something more challenging is just not going to happen. Without those easier activities already chosen, doing something mindless is always going to be your fallback.
- Figure out what part of the day is your most productive and do your most difficult brainwork there. For me, it’s morning. Once the kids are up, we have to move through breakfast to school pretty quickly, so for me, I try to get up about 2 hours before the kids have to be up and doing. They start doing morning chores at 7:30. I get up at 5:30 and read until about 7. That is my only concentrated period of reading during the day. The rest of my reading time is in much shorter increments.
- Try to get comfortable with smaller amounts of time being your largest currency. This one took me a long time, I’ll grant you. I had it in my head that I couldn’t do anything EXCEPT scroll instagram or youtube because I only had a few minutes here and there. But little minutes add up. It is worth the practice of picking up a project or opening a book, even if you re-read the same page over and over, or only get a few stitches into your crochet. You’re laying a foundation here. Not just that of your children becoming accustomed to seeing you pursuing your own adult interests (though that has value too), but you are preparing the habit for yourself. You are preparing for the day that you have 10 minutes instead of 5, 20 instead of 10. Trust me! That day will come! I learned this one the hard way. If we don’t build the habit in the day of small things, we will still be scrolling instagram and looking at youtube when we DO have larger chunks of time.
Facts of Life
Hope this has been helpful and encouraging! If I could just share one thing with younger moms, it would be the simple fact that everything is a season. Time passes. Children grow up. The things that limit your time and ability will not always be the same. But I do think it is our privilege to show our children how rich and varied life can be. We can read picture books for a while, and thoroughly enjoy giving all of our attention to our children. And then we can get up and read a page or two in a novel for ourselves, or crochet a few lines on a blanket, or play part of a Mozart concerto. We captain the ship, Mamas. We don’t just swab the deck.