5 Ways to Find Time to Read

Nov 10, 2017

I've been posting reviews of everything I've read this year on Instagram with #soobsessedwithbooks, and I recently got a great question on one of my posts from a fellow mom asking how I find time to read now that I have a baby. When I responded, I realized it would make a great a topic for a post. There are five tips that immediately came to mind, and I'll chat more about those below. But I wanted to preface with something first.

My son is eighteen months old, and he's my only child right now. Finding time to read as the mom of one is different than finding time to read as the mom of four, for example. I recognize that! And, as I mentioned to the commenter, I've read a lot more this year than I did last year because my son's age and stage of development has made it easier than it was before. I say both of those things to acknowledge that everyone has different circumstances -- and that my reading life could change again at any moment.

When I was pregnant, I frequently heard the same refrain from parents: "Oh, you love to read? Just wait until the baby arrives...." or "You won't have the time/energy/desire to read with a baby..." or "Reading once you have kids? Hahaha!" And honestly, it made me so mad. It's rude, discouraging and condescending. Just thinking about it now makes my blood boil. You know what a new parent doesn't need to hear? Someone else telling them that having a baby equals no longer doing the things that they enjoy. 

Last year, I wrote a post called Six in Sixteen: What I've Learned This Year. And I mentioned that I'd learned to "find the time." Whenever I've told my mom that I wish I did ______ more or had more time for _____, she responds by saying that if I wanted to do it, I would. It sounds harsh or simplistic, but her point was that we make time for the things that are truly important to us. She wouldn't say it to make me feel guilty or to be judgmental; it was just stating the obvious. If I cared about it, I'd find the time for it.

You'll have less free time with a baby, but you will have some. And you get to decide what you want to do with it. The people who told me they never had time to read after having a baby? What they usually meant was: "That's not how I chose to spend my time." And that's okay! Not everyone will prioritize reading. It's so easy to spend an entire evening watching YouTube videos on my phone, bingeing something on Netflix, looking at Pinterest, working on a blog post, etcetera... and sometimes I do those things. But I can't complain that I don't have time to read! I do -- it's just that I didn't choose to use my time on it. 

Everyone is busy in their own way -- and that doesn't just apply to parents. Choosing to do one thing always means you're choosing not to do everything else available to you. The only thing I took away from my college economics class was the concept of opportunity cost, but I'll never forget it. For me, choosing to read often "costs" me the opportunity to blog. I'd love to blog more consistently, but I know that doing so would take away time from reading. And most of the time, I'd honestly rather read!

But that's why my first piece of advice is to just make a decision that you want to prioritize reading. The practical, actionable ways that's lived out will look different from everyone. It could be a long-term goal of finishing one book per month or a short-term goal of reading for fifteen minutes each day -- the details don't matter as much as the actual decision to do it. It sounds so basic (and kinda dumb) to make this a tip, but I feel like it's the foundation. You have to decide first, and then you'll find a way to make it happen.

This is a two-part piece of advice. I'll start with early to bed! I'm a huge fan of early bedtimes (and sleep training and sleep schedules and all that debatable nonsense). Once my son was past the newborn stage of needing to eat around the clock, we established bedtime at 7 p.m. It occasionally fluctuates based on that day's nap(s) or evening plans, but we're generally pretty consistent. And honestly, that early bedtime is a lifesaver.

I can get so much done in the evenings because I basically never go to bed before 10 p.m. Most nights, I'm awake until close to midnight. That's between 3-5 hours of free time. And yes, sometimes that involves various chores or tasks that I have to get done, but still. Those are golden hours! Early bedtimes for kids won't always be feasible, but I highly recommend aiming for it. So much of my reading happens after my son goes to bed.

And then there's the second part of that phrase - early to rise. Unlike the first part of the phrase, this part of my advice involves your sleeping habits. If you can't already tell, I'm not a morning person. At all. But I wish that I was because the morning can be a wonderful time to work in extra reading. If you can get up before the rest of the household, you've got uninterrupted time right there. 

Rikki from The Ardent Biblio recently posted about being a morning reader, and I absolutely loved what she shared. While I don't see my night owl ways changing anytime soon, I do think this is a wonderful suggestion for so many people. The mornings can often feel a little frantic, especially if you've got to get out the door for work/school/etc., but how lovely to work towards a peaceful and rewarding start to the day.

Of all the tips on my list, this one has the biggest gamechanger for me. I listened to audiobooks before I had a baby, but it was pretty sporadic. It was hard for me to listen at work because my job often required too much mental focus, and I often defaulted to music while driving in the car. But ever since my son was born, I've developed a deep love and appreciation for audiobooks (and podcasts, too). 

At the time I'm writing this post, almost 30% of what I've read this year have been audiobooks. That's a big deal! Here's the biggest reason I love them: I can listen while driving, while doing chores around the house (laundry, cleaning, and cooking), while getting ready for the day, while grocery shopping or running errands, while walking around my neighborhood and while laying in my bed at night. In my opinion, it's the most versatile format!

If I take my son to the grocery store, I'm going to talk to him and narrate our trip instead of listening to an audiobook. But if I go by myself? Hello, headphones! The same goes for all the other things I listed. I don't necessarily listen to an audiobook every day, but having the ability to get stuff done and read a book is incredible. Being able to multitask is way more important to me now than it was before I had my son.

I have an Audible membership, so that's one audiobook per month. Plus, I have library cards for two counties (one I live in and one I pay to access) which gives me access to Overdrive through one and Hoopla through the other. Both have extensive audiobook selections! I started with re-reads and have since branched into new-to-me books now that my brain has finally trained itself to pay attention. I'm so glad this format exists!

People have always asked me how I have time to read as much as I do (even before I had a baby). Some of it goes back to the first thing I shared - I want to spend time reading, so I do. But many of the people asking didn't love to read, so they couldn't necessarily envision all the unexpected opportunities to squeeze in a little extra reading. Looking for the little moments is one of the keys to my reading life!

Sometimes I approach reading as something that needs to be done for an extended amount of time for it to count. I don't do this on purpose -- it's just my mental default that I have to tune out. Because honestly? Sometimes managing to find 15 minutes to read is the best I can do, and that's okay. But it also means that I need to be aware of those small windows of opportunity so that I don't miss them. 

Those windows often come from reading on my phone while waiting for something else to happen, like sitting in a doctor's office. For the first year of my son's life, the biggest and most obvious window was while I was nursing. I spent so much time looking at Twitter and Instagram before I thought, I ought to be reading right now! And now that he's no longer nursing and is beginning to play a little more independently, sometimes that window is while I'm sitting on the couch watching him build a tower out of blocks.

Reading this way can sometimes make a book feel disjointed, and some are definitely more suited to being read in small increments than others. But I've learned to accept it because it's a huge reason I've been able to read as much as I do! And honestly? You could only read a page per day, and you'd still be a reader. My husband reads one chapter of a book before bed (and less than that if he's tired) -- he's a reader.

And my final piece of advice? Remember this is a season of your life and won't last forever. If you just don't have the energy or desire to read, don't beat yourself up for putting books on the backburner. I've had long stretches where I just didn't pick up a book. Sometimes I just want to watch TV, work on a blog post, paint my nails, decorate my planner or do any of the other random things that bring me joy. Including sleep.

I always remind myself that I'm reading for pleasure and it's not worth it if I'm forcing myself to do it. Reading slumps where you want to read something and just can't find the right book for your mood are frustrating. But some slumps leave me wanting to do anything but read, and I don't fight those feelings. Books will wait for me -- no matter how long it takes.

Reading isn't a competition. There's no finish line to cross, award to accept or benchmark to reach. It's something you do for the joy of it. And I know how frustrating it can be when life makes it difficult to find the time do the things you love! That's why I remind myself that I can choose my attitude and perspective in this season. I won't always get it right (because some days are truly exhausting), but I can do my best.

How do you find time to read when you're busy?

October 2017: Recap + On My Shelves

Nov 1, 2017

OCTOBER, I LOVE YOU. Please come back? And bring Kelly with you, too? Since that's not possible, I guess I'll look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and all those festivities instead. I see you, 2018. Hold your horses.

1. Fall is My Favorite - In my opinion, fall is the best season! When I found this adorable mug while on a trip to Monroe with my mama and my boy, I had to have it. It says "What I Love About Autumn" and lists basically ALL the reasons this season is a winner. Plus, it's a reminder of a fun adventure with two of my favorite people!

2. Kelly Comes to Town - Kelly visiting for five days was definitely the highlight of October! I've gotten to see her twice in one year, so I'm basically spoiled. I loved every minute with her and wished she'd stayed longer! We traipsed around Athens, explored lots of bookstores and talked about anything and everything.

3. A Decade of Friendship - Two days after Kelly left, I got to reunite with three of the sweetest friends in Atlanta. We met ten years ago at the University of Georgia and were all in Zeta Tau Alpha together. It was so lovely to catch up with them over delicious food and made me so thankful for friendships that have lasted so long!

4. Hello, New Happy Planners - I've mentioned before that I've become obsessed with Happy Planners, and I swear I'll post about them at some point. They recently released their 2018 planners, and there were two on my wishlist. The small one is my new reading log, and I've got some blogging things in store for the colorful one.

Read 15 Books | Favorites:
Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
No Limits by Ellie Marney
“And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time
wasn’t because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.”
Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

“Oh, life was thick with irony now. Sort of like baklava, layer after layer pressed down on each other,
with grit in between the layers and honey glossed over everything to make it sweet.”
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

“We don't learn to love each other well in the easy moments.
Anyone is good company at a cocktail party.
But love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right,
when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up uninvited with magazines
and granola bars, in an effort to say, I love you.”
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.
It's about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

 “The human heart is a big thumping miracle, I decided.
What else in the world could keep beating after being so broken?”
The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

 “She said fear is just a flashlight that helps you find your courage.”
The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

“We can put on a topcoat with glitter,” said the manicurist. “We've noticed you like attention.”
Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly

“You won't remember how it started with us, the things that I know about you
that you don't even know about yourselves. We won't come back here.”
Lift by Kelly Corrigan

“It's a strange thing to discover and to believe that you are loved
when you know that there is nothing in you for anybody but a parent or a God to love.”
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

“This isn’t like the way I felt about Rachel. It’s different.
Rachel made me feel as if I was worth something. But Amie makes me face myself,
the whole unvarnished truth of me. And she accepts me. The bad shit as well as the good.”
No Limits by Ellie Marney
I felt pretty good about my blogging life in October! I still wish I posted more often, but I'm learning to accept that I just can't do everything. I started the month with my September 2017 recap. Next, I shared my review of First Comes Love by Emily Giffin for September's Picky Pledge Challenge prompt, "A Book I Pre-Ordered." My September Quick Lit was another long one and featured nine books. Finally, I re-read Erika Johansen's The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling before reading The Fate of the Tearling, which was a huge letdown. I hate when the final book makes me hate a series!

But my very favorite post in October was Creating a Capsule Library! I had the random idea to take the concept of Capsule Wardrobes and apply it to books. I asked Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, Kelly from Belle of the Literati and Rachel from Hello, Chelly to participate with me, and it honestly exceeded my expectations. (PS - If you posted your own Capsule Library, please leave a link in the comments so I can see!)
1. Capsule Libraries: Andi from Andi's ABCs, Lauren from Bookmark Lit, Kristin from Super Space Chick and Bleu Bailey from Booked & Busy - I was so excited to see people start sharing their own Capsule Libraries! These are four I found, but leave a link if you've posted one, too. I love what it reveals about people's reading taste!

2. Plan to Eat Review & Walk-Through by Cassie from The Casserole - I'd mentioned to Cassie that I was interested in trying Plan to Eat, and she had the brilliant idea to test it out and write a review first! Reading her post - and talking about it with her - made me even more convinced that I need this in my life.

3. On Being a Morning Reader by Rikki from The Ardent Biblio - How I had not found this blog before this month?! It's so lovely, as is their Instagram. This was one of my favorite posts from them in October. I'm not an early morning reader at all, though I wish I was, and this post certainly highlighted the benefits of being one.

4. The Stories We Shared: A Family Book Journal (Review + How I'm Using It) by Christine from The Buckling Bookshelf - When Kelly was visiting, I mentioned that I wanted some kind of journal to record what I was reading to my son. So, this post was perfect timing, and I'm totally getting one (at least) for our family! 

Favorite Album #1: Every Little Thing by Carly Pearce
Bethany Chase introduced me to the title track a few months ago, and I was so excited
for the album's release. It didn't disappoint! I've had it on repeat all month.

Favorite Album #2: Be Held: Lullabies for the Beloved by Christy Nockels
I saw two friends recommend this on Instagram, so I immediately went to investigate.
It's such a lovely album of quiet worship songs, and I enjoy Nockels' voice.

Audiobook: The End of the Affair narrated by Colin Firth
I bought this on Audible earlier this year and finally listened to it.
While I wasn't crazy about the story, it was worth it for Firth's narration!

The Bold Type, Season 1, starring Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy - I felt like I was hearing about this show everywhere, so I decided to binge it in October. It was fun and had such great female friendships, but I didn't love it. I'd be curious about the second season, if there is one, but I wouldn't rush to watch it. 

Pretty Editions of Favorites: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and The Memory Book by Lara Avery 

Book Outlet: The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhy Menon, Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan, French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater by Nimali Fernando & Melanie Potock and The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Costco Prices Convinced Me: The Beverly Cleary Collection (I can't find this exact set online!) and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!

2nd & Charles: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Royal Diaries: Jahanara by Kathryn Lasky, The Royal Diaries: Kaiulani by Ellen Emerson White, and The Railway Children by E. Nesbit (Blackberries for Sal?)

Gifted: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Thanks, Alexa!), 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up by Bianca Schulze (Thanks, Mom!) and The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (Thanks, Kelly!)

My New Puffin Classics Collection
From The Story Shop, 2nd & Charles, Book Outlet, Amazon & Book Depository 

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, Goodnight Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Unsolicited For Review: The Texan Duke by Karen Ranney, The It Girls by Karen Harper, The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano, Craig & Fred by Craig Grossi and Monster by Michael Grant

NetGalley: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Audible 2-for-1 Sale: To All the Boys I've Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Kindle: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart, No Limits by Ellie Marney and How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
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