As a mom, it’s difficult to find time to read. When I was a kid, I was always reading. I loved fiction and poetry. I devoured both the classics and The Baby-Sitters Club. I fell in love with the rhymes of Shel Silverstein and identified with Jo March’s independent streak. When I was in college, I majored in English. I can still picture the chest in our tiny apartment with a stack of books a foot tall and covered in all directions.
Fast forward 10 years, and I found myself in tears after trying to read one page only to be interrupted again and again by my little people. Eventually, I’d lose my place so many times (not to mention my sanity) that I would give up and leave the reading for another day.
As time went on, my longing to find time to read never left. It just seemed like a distant friend who I could never really find the time to connect with.
Flash forward another five years and four kids later, I had an epiphany. These adorable and somewhat needy people in my house may be able to stop me from leisurely Saturday mornings, sleeping in and long talks with my husband, but I could no longer allow them to stop me from finishing a book. I became downright insistent that I was a reader and I was going to read.
So if you’re a word nerd like me and constantly frustrated by how few books you have time for, these have been my go-to strategies for making reading a priority in the midst of a busy mom life.
How to find time to read:
1. Keep a book with you at all times.
I can’t stress this one enough. Is there anything worse than finding yourself with 10 minutes of unexpected downtime or wait time and no book to read? I think not. I try to always make sure there is a book in my purse or my car for those unexpected moments. When I had two kids in elementary school and a baby, I would purposely arrive in the carpool line early because the baby would typically fall asleep or at least be content in his car seat and it gave me a chance to get some reading time to myself.
2. Delete social media from your phone.
This is the most radical, and hands-down most effective, thing I’ve done to increase the time I spend reading.
Think about those extra minutes you probably have every day when you’re waiting in the carpool line or waiting for water to boil. What do you reach for first? If you’re like me, the answer is your phone. Social media is such a quick and easy distraction that I think we are often not even aware of how much it fills our extra minutes in the day. A few months ago, I became aware of how often I was reaching for my phone without thinking so I deleted all the distractions. Whatever your thing is (Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest), try removing it from your phone and only check it from your computer a few times a day. If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed how much more time you will have for reading and other important tasks like remembering to move your clothes from the washer to the dryer. Just saying.
3. Don’t waste your time with books you don’t enjoy.
When you have minimal time to read, I think you have every right to give up on a book early. I used to feel like it was my duty to finish any book I started.
At age 42, I feel like life is too short to waste on a book I’m not enjoying.
I’ve made it a rule to read a book up to the halfway mark and if it’s not doing it for me, I’m done.
4. Don’t give up because you’re slow.
I think when it comes to reading and motherhood, perseverance is the name of the game. Just because your husband travels for his job and reads twice as many books in a month as you do in a year (oh wait, sorry that’s my stuff); just because it takes you forever and a day to get through a single book doesn’t mean the pursuit isn’t worth it. I really like the app Goodreads because I can keep track of everything I want to read and even better, mark off the books I actually finish. I also love the library for due dates that turn the heat up on my need to finish a book in a reasonable amount of time. You can’t renew that book forever moms.
5. Try audiobooks, so you can listen while you do other things.
OK, this is one that my friends tell me is life changing, but I can’t personally vouch for it. I’m super old fashioned and like to have a physical book in my hands. But my friends that love to read swear that audiobooks have changed their ability to get through a book quickly. Give it a try and report back.
And just in case you need more reasons to make time for reading, this article by Natasa Lekic explains how reading gives you the same benefits as taking a vacation including experiencing new things and restoring calm to our mind.
Don’t give up, and if you’re a busy mama who’s managed to make time for reading, I’d love to hear how.