Guest post by Johanna Hanson of My Home Tableau.
Renee here, with just a short intro: I have always been an avid reader, and reading has been so important for my personal development, intellectual and spiritual growth.
But when you are a mom with young children it's hard to find the time. I know many of you are in this same spot so I asked Johanna to share her heart and wisdom with us on this topic.
As a mom of littles (4, 2, and 1), my days are taken up with changing diapers, passing out snacks, reading stacks of picture books, making huge messes that we call creativity, and cleaning up said messes, or pushing kids on a swing. I also try to cook somewhere in there.
There is very little time for myself. Most of the time I can't even use the bathroom without someone coming in to check where I am!
But self-education, usually in the form of reading, is highly important to me. It's a priority. And as anything in life, if something is a priority you somehow make time for it.
I don't view this as another item on a to-do list. (It's plenty long already, thank you!). I view it as a lifeline. A sanity keeper in the midst of busy days.
It reminds me that my world is bigger than a diaper explosion or another spilled bowl of soup.
Reading keeps my mind fresh and active, learning new things and learning daily about the world around me. Having young children is physically exhausting, but not necessarily intellectually stimulating. Reading provides that outlet.
Reading gives me new things to talk about with my husband and friends. My husband is very gracious, but he really doesn't need to know how many times I cleaned up the same toy in a day.
Reading also models to my children that learning is a lifelong pursuit.
And it is just enjoyable.
Reading and learning are important and even a lifeline for a mom of littles, but making it happen is another matter. I rarely have a moment in a day by myself, let alone time to get into a good book. I've had to find ways to fit it in.
Read multiple books
One thing that has helped me read more is having different books of different genres going at the same time. There are days when I am so physically exhausted by nightfall that I can't wrap my mind around anything too deep, but I can get lost in a great work of fiction or gain encouragement from a memoir.
If I know I am going to have distractions, a resource book is nice. I can learn what I want, but I don't need heavy concentration. I save the deeper reading for those times when I have a small block of time to myself.
15 minutes a day
Most of us, no matter what stage in life, can find at least fifteen minutes. It is actually amazing how much reading we can get through with just 15 minutes. Over a month and a year it adds up.
But you might find like I have, that once you have committed to 15 minutes you will benefit so much, that you'll find other times to squeeze in some reading.
How much time is not important, but committing to giving myself some time to explore my own learning goals reminds me that this is important.
Rest time is an invaluable part of our day. My oldest rarely sleeps anymore, but we still have quiet time in the afternoon. I need it, for sure. But they need it too. They need time by themselves (they may not realize it!) to get lost in a picture book or a simple toy without the interruption of a sibling.
It is tempting to tackle my cleaning, or jump on twitter as soon as my kids go down. But I've learned that if reading is a priority, it has to happen first. Having routines in place so I know when my laundry or other cleaning is going to get done is helpful to put my mind at ease. "I'll get to that later."
As soon as my kids go down to rest, I make a cup of tea or coffee and I sit and read. Rest time is the time to get into some of my best reading. It's that respite in the middle of the day that puts out of my mind all the kid squabbles of the morning, and gives me renewed energy for the hours left in our day.
Read in multiple formats
I enjoy borrowing a variety of books from the library both on my kindle and in book format. Each is a little different and better for certain situations. Another format that I have just recently started to enjoy is the audio book.
Audible.com is user friendly because it keeps track of exactly where you are and allows you to take notes while you listen, but you can also borrow audio books from the library.
I like to be completely present when my children are awake, but I find that if they are sleeping and I absolutely need to accomplish household tasks, listening while I work is an enjoyable way to spend the time.
I am finally figuring out that there is no perfect time for anything. Being a mom of littles has its particular challenges, for sure. But perfect is often the enemy of the good. The perfect book, the perfectly clean house, the perfect time.
Sometimes you just have to grab the book that is closest to you, take whatever moments of silence you can get, forget about that pile of laundry for the moment, and just read.
And oh what food for my heart, soul, and mind comes from those less-than-perfect times.
Reading is not a duty for me, it's a respite. That quiet in the midst of my day of answering endless questions and caring for my family's needs.
Thank you so much Johanna for sharing this with us. I was nodding my head a lot, especially about having house routines that let you enjoy moments of rest.
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