Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How busy moms can squeeze in more reading time

Mom2MomEd Blog: How busy moms can read more...where to find the time
So many of my mom friends love to read, yet so many have next to no time for their favorite hobby. I totally understand! I barely have time for reading myself, but honestly, if I could make a living reading (but reading the things I want to read), I would be so, so happy! I'm not sure there is a word that actually describes that level of happiness!

For the last several years, I pretty much read next to nothing. I was so busy trying to make ends meet that I rarely had time to read--or rather, I found myself so exhausted that I never MADE time to read. The result?

I was grumpy.
I was in a creative slump.
I was out of hope for the future.
I felt like my best friends (books and their characters) were missing from my life.

I slowly rebuilt my reading habit, carving out time here and there to read, and occasionally kept track of my reading--a little habit I started after reading The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby which is basically a book about carving out time to read and tracking your reading.

{{Side note--I am a huge Nick Hornby fan and highly recommend pretty much everything he has written, although The Polysyllabic Spree and A Long Way Down are my two favorites! Find his books HERE.}}

More recently, life has still been chaotic, but I got so tired of feeling crappy all the time that I decided to make a conscious effort to read more. I was certain that increasing my time spent reading would improve my mood and general outlook on life.

I was right.

When I spend copious amounts of time reading, my introvert brain is nourished. I feel refreshed, renewed, and re-energized. My creativity starts revving up, my mood softens, and I am able to imagine a more joyous and abundant path for my future.

Carving out time to read is still a challenge though.

I have to consciously work at it.

Here are a few of the ways I have managed to carve out reading time this year and other ideas that may resonate with you:
  • Read while brushing your teeth
  • Read while walking (very carefully)
  • Take a few extra moments while sitting on the toilet to finish a couple of pages
  • Read only what you enjoy--don't force yourself to slog through something you don't like.
  • Quit television and watch Netflix only very selectively
  • Always carry at least one or two books (or a loaded Kindle) with you
  • Wake up earlier or stay up later to read (but only a little bit...you need your rest to support your reading!)
  • Make it a family affair--kids keep interrupting your reading? Insist that they read alongside you.
  • Stop driving and take public transportation so you can read while you ride.
  • Read while you wait for dinner to cook instead of doing other mindless tasks as the water boils or oven works.
  • Find an hour every week to take yourself on a reading date--choose a coffee shop you love or one you've always wanted to try, set your kids up with a babysitter, and go read for an hour.
  • Join a silent reading group--this is not your typical book club! A silent reading group is a group of people who want to spend time with others and to read, but not necessarily to discuss their reading. The point is to actually read, not necessarily to discuss the book--have you ever noticed how most book clubs end up not actually discussing the book? 
  • Take a book with you to appointments--just prior to finishing this post, I had a doctor's appointment and got in several pages in the waiting room and a couple more in the exam room.
The more you make a conscious effort to read more, the more you will find yourself carving out additional moments to read. I think you will also become a more selective reader, narrowing down what you will enjoy and what you won't, and thus you'll waste less time on reading material that you just don't like.

I've gone from reading maybe twenty minutes per week to a minimum of twenty minutes per day. That may not seem like a whole lot, but compounded over many days, weeks, and months, twenty minutes per day actually adds up to quite a bit of reading. On the very best days, however, I get in a few hours! Those days are GLORIOUS!!!

I could have read more if I enjoyed speed reading, but to be totally honest, I like to read slowly. I like to savor what I am reading, to think about it, and to take my time. If I read as fast as I am capable of, I end up feeling like I didn't get as much out of the book as I could have--I certainly don't enjoy it nearly as much when I read quickly.

Below are all of the books I have read so far this year (that I finished), as of the end of November, along with my rating on a 5-star system--while I firmly believe in using your local library (most of the books on this list were checked out from my library), I have linked all 4-star and better titles to their corresponding listings on Amazon:

5 out of 5 stars--MUST READS!
Shades of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide, and Feeling Blue by Amy Ferris (non-fiction; essays)
Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chodron (spiritual; personal development)
The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT by Debbie Stier (memoir, study guide--truly more memoir than study guide, but many excellent tips if you have a teen needing to take the SAT!)
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (non-fiction, creative development)
Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod (non-fiction, creative and business development)
Midnight Sun by Jo Nesbo (fiction, Scandinavian Noir)
Girl on a Train by AJ Waines (fiction, suspense)
The Dip by Seth Godin (non-fiction, personal and creative development)
Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso (memoir, business development)
Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall (cookbook, heavily dairy laden--just in case you are allergic, as I am, but all recipes are tasty with a few alterations as appropriate!)

4.5 out of 5 stars--EXCELLENT READS!
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (non-fiction, personal development for women)

4 out of 5 stars--PRETTY GOSH, DARN GOOD!
A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford (non-fiction, memoir)
What Now by Ann Patchett (non-fiction, essay/speech)
Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze (non-fiction, personal finance; read my review HERE)
DC Trip by Sara Benincasa (young adult fiction) 

3 out of 5 stars--EH, READ IT OR DON'T!
Cracking the GRE Premium (study guide--yes, I read the whole thing)
The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks (non-fiction, personal development)
Gamelife: A Memoir by Michael W. Clune (memoir) 

1 out of 5 stars--SKIP IT!
The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz (fiction, Scandinavian Noir; the 4th in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, but written by a different author and filled with discrepancies!)
What have you read recently? Anything I should put on my TBR (to be read) list?
Be sure to check out these additional reading, literacy, and bookish posts:
We do urge you to visit your local library,
but if you choose to purchase any or all of the linked books above,
please note that the links are affiliate links. Thanks!

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