The Tuesday morning book club

photo-32Mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. I wrote a whole book about that! And yet weekday mornings remain one of my biggest time management challenges.

My challenge is different from many other people’s. While the day has a very good chance of starting early — I have instituted a rule of not getting my toddler out of her crib until 6 a.m. even if I lose the game of baby roulette and she wakes up a bit earlier — my kids and I aren’t racing to be anywhere. My oldest kid is in half-day kindergarten…in the afternoon. I work at home. So if I plan to start work at 8 or 9, I don’t need childcare coverage until 8 or 9.

In theory, this could be a great chunk of family time, or at least mommy time (I seem to be doing a lot of solo parenting during the week at the moment). But it’s been a struggle to use these 2-3 hours per day in ways that are enjoyable, and not just muddling through. We don’t need nearly that much time to eat breakfast — even elaborate breakfasts — and get dressed (not that I can shower with the kids underfoot). I don’t want to turn on the TV in the mornings since that’s my night time parenting strategy. It’s been too dark and cold and/or wet these past few months to be outside. So what else can we do?

One answer is that we can read. In the past few weeks, my toddler has started — just started — to tolerate sitting and listening to books. Or at least she’ll amuse herself to a degree while I read to her brothers. So the Tuesday morning book club (I start work at 9 on Tuesdays) meets around 7:45 a.m. We read chapters in chapter books, and picture books for the younger members. Pajamas are welcomed — even encouraged! If you wish to sit inside the basket we normally keep blankets in, that’s fine. Sometimes people need little hiding spots to listen to stories. You can sit on mommy’s lap, but if one of your other siblings wants to sit on mommy’s lap, too, you need to make room, or at least not pull his hair.

We can read for 30 minutes or more. I’m aiming for more — partly by keeping up my supply of children’s books. I am now planning in advance to always have some good, new ones ready. So if you get my newsletter, start looking for more children’s book reviews. Peter Pan has amazing prose. The Magic Tree House books are exciting, and you can pretty much get through one from 7:45-8:30 a.m.

The net result is that Tuesday mornings are a lot more pleasant than if we don’t plan to sit and read. How do you handle long mornings?

In other news: I’m working on a piece for a business publication on what families can learn from business (a la Bruce Feiler’s new book) and what business can learn from families. If you used a strategy you developed at home with your kids and spouse in your job — and are willing to let me use your name — I would love to hear from you. Managing conflict? Getting input from lots of people? Motivating an employee? Email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.

7 thoughts on “The Tuesday morning book club

  1. the book group sounds awesome! also if they are up reading like that maybe they will go to bed early too !
    your family like your business and your biz like a family.. would like to read that… ha ha if only you could manage your spouse like an employee !! how many of my friends are like keep a whiteboard…. i just don’t want to whiteboard my love life if though i know i should ; )

  2. I just realised from reading Laura’s and nicoleandmaggie’s posts that my mother was doing a version of this about 25 years ago while driving us to my grandmother’s house at some ungodly hour so she could then commute for an hour and a half by train (both ways) to her job. I have very vivid memories of my mother telling stories and singing songs from the front seat of the car, with us either listening along or singing along as appropriate in the backseat. I can remember some of the stories and songs to this day.
    It is clear that even mothers commuting long hours with two small children can still carve out some quality time with their children early in the morning! While I also remember her reading us physical books at other times, she did not let the constraints of the early morning get in her way of enjoying some time with us 🙂

  3. What a great idea! It could also be a theme for creating a playgroup, especially in winter. Instead of playground time, the parents and kids get together for story time in pajamas. I would have loved that as a kid!

  4. My kids are 13, 15 and 17 and we still have book club. Recently we began looking for an old favorite, but alas, it seems we had donated it. And why not. It’s a toddler’s read for Pete’s sake. But still they moaned until we finally found another copy. So you ask what was this fabulous book that they just had to have? The Napping House By Audrey Wood They all had misty eyes after the third read. I have raised some mushy people.

    1. @Elizabeth – I love that you guys still read together (at an age when many kids want nothing to do with their parents!) I hope that we can continue the tradition as well.

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