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March 23, 2015

Where I Find the Time to Read

reading2I read a lot. I read for a living, and I read to save my life, and, “Where do you find the time to read?” is a question that continues to baffle me. It’s like being asked where I find the air to breathe. The time, like the air, is out there in abundance, and having children hasn’t changed that. It just means I have to be creative in finding a way to make that time my own.

The following is a list of ordinary occurrences disguising excellent opportunities to steal a moment with a book.

  • Extended Breastfeeding: Of the many benefits of breastfeeding, the time to read in is paramount. Once you’ve mastered holding a book open with one hand, it’s effortless, and oh so efficient—nourish a baby and your mind in a single shot. When my first daughter finally weaned at age 2 ½, I so mourned the loss of reading time that I had to have another baby.
  • IMG_20130606_151120Before Bed: Every night, there is a window of sometimes up to ten minutes between the moment my head hits the pillow and when the baby awakes, and so I read then. And when the baby does awake, I breastfeed her. (See previous point.)
  • Weekend lie-ins: Obviously, I don’t get out of bed in the mornings. Would you? On Saturday and Sunday mornings, there is always time to get a chapter in before I return to the vertical life, and if I stay in bed long enough, somebody probably will bring me a cup of tea. And then I don’t have to get up until I’ve drunk it.
  • reading4Walking: Walking while reading is walking the one risky behaviour I indulge in on a regular basis. Doing it while pushing a stroller is even more reckless, I realize, but sometimes one has to live on the edge. Also, I could make it to kindergarten and back with my eyes shut, so there’s no harm in doing with text in front of my face.
  • At the playground: I will argue that reading at the playground is not entirely the opposite of being present for my children, mostly because there are only so many mud-pies I can pretend to gleefully devour. Also, every time they look up at the bench and see me reading there, I’m increasing their own chances of being readers by setting a good example. Everybody wins.
  • reading6During interruptions: Basically, I find the time to read by always having a book in my bag. Sometimes two. And this means that when my husband takes the kids to the bathroom after a restaurant meal, I can finish a chapter along with the dregs of my tea.
  • Sitting alone in restaurants by myself: And other times, I forfeit the husband and kids altogether, and take myself out for a chai latte and oversized cookie, or even an entire lunch, and read the entire time. Cultivate your own company, is what I mean, and you will get so much reading done.
  • In waiting rooms: As a parent with a book in her bag, there is nothing more luxurious than having to wait for appointments while the children are asleep in their strollers or in the care of somebody else. I’ve spent some of the best afternoons of my life in recent years reading for solid blocks of time at the passport office, my doctor’s, or the dentist.
  • While flossing: Regarding the dentist, I have never before been so attentive to dental hygiene. I’ve become a vigilant flosser since I learned to floss and read, which is a skill involving holding open a book with my feet. I do this daily. For ten to twenty minutes at a time.
  • In the bathroom: Also, for ten to twenty minutes at a time. My digestive system is getting a bad reputation. But there is a door that locks and a stack of books nearby—why would I ever leave?
  • reading1Pancakes: I don’t spend all my time avoiding my family, however. Every Sunday, I make whole-wheat banana pancakes from scratch, which sounds selfless and well-meaning until I explain that once the batter is mixed, I pull out what’s left of the Saturday paper, flipping the pancakes between articles. (“Go away. Mommy is cooking.”)
  • But not at the table. Unless it’s breakfast or lunch…We don’t permit reading at the table at our house, because meals are a time for togetherness. We bend the rules for breakfast and lunch though, because bendy rules are useful for teaching flexibility. And because tables are so useful for having the Saturday paper spread across.

14 thoughts on “Where I Find the Time to Read”

  1. “Bendy rules” are, indeed, useful in the teaching of flexibility. I so enjoyed seeing your girls reading the newspapers. 🙂

  2. kate says:

    rah! all that, me too… its the one thing that keeps me from being a total tech/facebookaddict…. the books are over there, not in the laptop, so away we goooo…. although no one here is nursing anymore, i still have a naptime each day… glory be.

  3. Kristin says:

    Me too! Except for when walking…that is pretty impressive!

  4. Dora Dueck says:

    You’re exactly the kind of momma I was — love it! In my day we stayed in the hospital post-birth for about 2 or 3 days. Other moms would be chafing at the bit to get out of there but for me it was like this beautiful time to read, punctuated with awe-filled times with my new baby but not entirely responsible for him/her yet–goodness, I had years and years to get to know that kiddo, but these hours of bedrest
    to read would never come again! 🙂

  5. This is one of my favourites of yours. Life makes room for a love of reading!

  6. AK says:

    Reading at the table will change once you have teenagers. There’s nothing more delightful than my teen reading an 11,000 page book on his iphone. It reduces the amount he complains about my woeful cooking. But how do you feet, floss and read. I’m short, have bi-focals but cannot see text that far away. Or are your feet up on the sink?

    1. Kerry says:

      I haul my leg up to the counter—it keeps me limber. I also sometimes floss cross-legged while sitting on my bed. Sometimes I also floss while peeing, and hold the book open on the floor with my feet, but it really is a bit too far too see properly. I may have to start getting large print books.

      1. urban ranger says:

        An e-reader lets you adjust the text size. Just a thought….

  7. This is awesome!! Hilarious. And, crap. It almost made me feel like I should have a baby. BUT NO.

    I do read while brushing my teeth or going to the bathroom. I read while waiting anywhere. I read before bed, and when I get up. And it is never enough time. The chunks are too small to get even a book a month in. It MUST change. Maybe I should start reading while I drive. Or instead of therapy appointments. Think of all the time! Maybe I could just read in the therapist’s office instead of us talking. She can do her thing, and I can relax, uninterrupted. Possibly all the therapy I really need.

    1. Kerry says:

      I have started reading while I get my hair cut. For a while, I thought this was rude (because it was in lieu of talking about the TopCuts stylist’s recent trip to Florida) but I give her a big tip now and don’t worry. (And maybe the therapist wants to read too??)

  8. Rohan says:

    This is perfect! My own list would be very similar but like some of your other readers, I am not up to the challenge of reading while flossing!

  9. Adrienne says:

    Kerry, you inspire me so. Love this post!

    1. Kerry says:

      I love that I inspire you by admitting that I spent vast amounts of time hiding on the toilet.

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