I read as they grow

I love to read. I can tear through books, and at any given moment, I have a huge pile I’m working my way through.

The other day, I counted up the books I’d read since New Year’s and realized that I am finally, for the first time in a year and a half, making progress through the pile. What happened?

Here’s what’s been happening: my kids are starting to grow up.

Yes, I still have 3 under the age of 6. The baby is only 17 months old and is refusing all attempts at weaning. But unlike the other two, she goes down pretty easily at 7:30 p.m. The older two don’t go to bed until 8:45-9, but they are pretty independent, and are perfectly happy to play (or watch TV) by themselves.

In the past, they required more supervision, so I couldn’t get back to work until 9/9:15 or so. Now, I hang out with the kids from 5-7:30. Then I let the boys do their own thing from 7:30-8:45 while I work. I usually finish whatever I would have been doing from 9:15-10:30. After another 20-30 minutes with the boys doing their bedtime routine and reading together, that gives me the hours of 9:15-10:30 a few nights per week to read my own stuff.

Of course, that’s not the only thing going on. I’ve also made a habit of going to the library pretty regularly this year, so I have interesting things to read. Demand is important, but supply is too — and a good supply helps me resist the temptation to squeeze in more work from 9:15-10:30 (ok, sometimes I work then — or at least post on this blog!) or the temptation to watch TV. I also just joined a book club. We had our first meeting tonight. There was wine. And puff pastries from Trader Joe’s. But my kids‘ growing independence has helped a lot too. It’s a nice little glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.

When do you make time to read?

36 thoughts on “I read as they grow

    1. To clarify, that is either nursing or while in the bathroom. Although I have nursed in the bathroom, and I have read in the bathroom, I do not have the skills to nurse and read while in the bathroom. Not even with a kindle.

  1. I have a long commute, part of which is by public transportation, so the trip in (when I always have a seat) is my one dependable reading time. I sometimes read while pumping milk at night, but I’m usually too tired to handle anything that isn’t short or fluffy. Blogs often meet the “short” criterion. 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder that time use will change as children grow, just as it changed when they arrive. I love my daughter, but the prospect of being able to get some work done while she is at home and awake feels far off. (She’s nine months and was home sick from daycare today; meeting today’s deadlines was a bit of a challenge.)

    1. @Jennifer: Yes, my 17-month-old is a bit of a little tyrant. If she is awake, she is on you. So reading has to happen when she’s not awake. Fortunately, she’s a better sleeper than my other two ever were (I say after being up from 12:30-1:20 am with the little tyrant last night — she may be getting a cough).

    1. @Marcia – thanks so much for the review! I really appreciate it. And sure, setting reading goals works great if you have that sort of personality. It’s good to know yourself and know what works for you.

      I’ve been saying I want to read more fiction, so I probably need to set goals in this regard. The book club will help with that. One issue is that I can see the choices lean not toward the light side. Our assignment for this past month was Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. It’s provocative, got complicated characters, etc., but as someone put it, it’s not a book you want to read again. I know horrible horrible things happened in Germany in World War II, but I somewhat resist using my limited downtime to read about these horrific things.I’m not sure what to think about that, but I can see that tendency in myself — I would like to use reading, at this point in my life, to relax.

      1. I 100% agree with you 🙂 The only things on my list are 2 non-fiction a month and that’s simply to get through the huge pile of physical books I have… unread.

        As for the rest, it’s chick-lit!

  2. Daily nap time (for baby and toddler), which is “quiet time” for the older kids.

    We also do a nightly family read aloud, which is a kid’s book but I always pick something *I* love (recent picks: The Giver, Wrinkle in Time).

    Nursing, definitely!

    Reading is just de rigueur for me, it’s my favorite thing to do so it’s not a matter of finding the time. I have to “find the time” to clean my bathrooms. Teehee.

  3. I`m in a very different but still similar situation – as a first year university student, so many distractions prevent me from reading as much as I`d like to! Once I realized I needed to make time for one of my favourite things to do, I solved the problem by getting a Kindle app for my phone and I`ve demolished soo many books recently!!

    1. @Bethany D – I’m still getting comfortable with reading on the iPhone. I tend to like “real” books best, and the Kindle as a runner-up. The iPhone still feels a bit like work.

  4. I love the gentle accountability of a library due date. I’ll often finish those last few chapters instead of renewing.
    I read every chance I get, but one of my favorite times is sneaking it in to my commute. After my drive from work, I can usually squeeze in half an hour of reading in a quiet parking lot near my child’s day care before I’m due to pick her up. It makes for a lovely transition in my day.

    1. @Olivia – “the gentle accountability of a library due date.” So true — I’ve finished books for precisely this reason, too.

  5. I read the 1100 pages or so of 1Q84 during the great flu of ’13. Both kids ended up with pneumonia and didn’t want me to do anything but sit on the couch. Baring great illness, I just loaded up my kindle to take on our Vegas weekend away and I read a little before bed most nights. Not to be an Amazon shill, but I found when I have a book going, I can usually carve out little snippets of time throughout the day to read on my phone and then it all syncs up with the iPad or the Kindle. A great supply definitely increases reading time.

    1. @Calee- sorry to hear about the great flu of ’13, but at least it had an upside… I’ve been told that IQ84 should not be the first Murakami novel I attempt.

  6. I also love/live to read. A few years ago I made it a priority to read. One of the things I gave up was mindless tv. I’m not a tv hater but will read while my husband watches tv. The few programs I do follow are via Netflix/On Demand. I also always have a book with me particularly during my son’s hockey practices!

    My son is 7 and last year really struggled with learning to read. My heart just soars when he grabs his book and joins me reading; me with my book and him with his. Those with little children, this is something to look forward to.

    I really believe that if you’re passionate about something…you’ll make the time to do it!

    1. @Arden – I really do think this is the trade-off most people don’t see that they’re making. TV time is often equally suited to being reading time. This is an easy conversion, in a way that TV time often can’t be turned into exercise time, volunteering time, etc. (since it happens later at night and you often need to be home as the adult in charge). If you get the right book, it can be equally gripping/relaxing/humorous (or whatever you look for in your TV time). If you have time to watch TV, you probably have time to read. Simple as that.

  7. Definitely before bed. I was fooling around on my phone (reading blogs and such) before I went to bed, and I quit that completely and usually read for at least 30 minutes most nights—sometimes more, if I go up to my bed right after putting the kids in theirs, I might read for over an hour. I’ve read 5.5 novels already this year, and quite a few interesting New Yorker articles, too. It actually is a sense of accomplishment to finish a book. I’ve been stocking up on $1.99 and $3.99 Kindle deals and have a good stash to read—I need to look into ebooks from our library. I know there are long wait lists for everything, but if I get on the lists, I can just read books as they come.

    1. @Ana – brilliant to go read as soon as the kids go down. it is so easy to putter around online, and while I like it if people’s puttering takes them to my blog, I understand that it is not the only way one can spend one’s time 🙂

    2. I need to tweak the online surfing…boards/blogs/etc…i’m spending too much time doing it. I’ve tried timers/deadlines but nothing seems to work. I would hate to do the abstinence thing but it may come to that.

      Thoughts anyone?

  8. My children have recently lost the bedtime plot and will constantly pop up unless one of us keeps vigil outside their door. Perfect time to read. I carry my nook around and can fit reading into little scraps of time (e.g., cooking, waiting for someone else, in the car on the way to and from somewhere if the kids have fallen asleep). This works better if I am in the middle of a book, rather than the start. While reading right before is my favorite, I’ve been so tired lately that I don’t make much progress then.

    I have a friend who reads off her smart phone, and reads while waiting for her work meetings to start.

    1. @WG — Currently reading The Secrets of Happy Families. Will tackle the Sheryl Sandberg book when it comes out. I am supposed to (re) read A Separate Peace for my book club. I have an advance reading copy of David Stockman’s manifesto on the corruption of capitalism sitting in the pile too. Predictive Analytics. Hmm… what else? I’d like to get something a little more fun in there.

        1. @NicoleandMaggie- there’s a whole story on A Separate Peace and its teaching in my 10th grade English class that could probably be its own post. The good news is I came out of that horrible experience with an independent study in English with the head of the English department, he had me reading novels every week and writing papers and stories like crazy and he made me learn grammar, every little rule of it, and all of that was instrumental in my career choice.

          1. @WG – Strunk & White usually helps… But I’ve gotten some refreshers off Grammar Girl, too. (like which vs. that)

      1. @Laura – I would love to discuss Sheryl’s book once released/read. I haven’t even read it yet and I’ve got some “ideas”. 🙂

        1. @Arden – oh, don’t worry. I’ll be writing about it. I’m probably a lean-in kind of gal so I’m inclined to agree with her, though we’ll see how the book comes across in execution.

  9. ONCE I have all the animals fed (we are farmers) and due to the fact we only get half the television channels available in our area and we don’t have the interest in getting our TV aerial fixed so we can receive the other half of the stations which only show mind-numbing dullness anyway,
    I have from around 8pm until X-ray-my-eyelids which generally happens around 9:30-10pm. That’s a nice enjoyable amount of time to leisurely read.

    Currently reading Bryce Courtney’s last book Jack of Diamonds over 700 pages and I’m a slow reader so I’ll be happily reading for quite some time 🙂

    1. @Zakgirl – yes, don’t get your antenna fixed! In 168 Hours, I write of doing a time makeover for a woman who really wanted time to read. Her TV was broken that week, and she got a new Kindle and… she read like a madwoman. She solved that problem herself.

  10. I love to read and clear my head of the day’s events and worries before I go to bed. I am extremely drawn to nonfiction and feel that it is time well-spent. I love to learn. Lately I’ve been keeping up with RSS feeds, but I find that reading on a computer winds me up and gets my mind going, whereas old-fashioned printed pages lend themselves to a more thoughtful and relaxing experience. I have no experience with e-readers and the like.

    As for TV, I literally took the last one I owned to a gravel pit and shot it years ago (a fun story to tell). While a couple of hours of TV each week is fine, I catch my news on the radiio during commutes and a once or twice a week with newspapers; but I can think of so many better ways to spend my time.

  11. My children are a little older – in elementary school. I carry reading material – ideally a book but sometimes a magazine -with me everywhere I go because I spend a lot of time sitting and waiting for them. Right now I’m reading Wild (Cheryl Strayed) and at both their school talent show rehearsal and softball practice other moms started conversations with me because of my book, either commenting that they wished they’d thought to bring something to read, or sharing that they’re reading the same book.

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