Maybe you want to read more but you're thinking your life is too busy to read. I promise you, you do have the time. You know how I know? I thought the same thing before I challenged myself to read more four years ago. Now that reading is a habit of mine, I can't believe how much space I actually have in my life for reading, even though my life has gotten busier since then.
Why Should You Read More?
You don't have to read one hundred books a year to be a "reader". How much you read isn’t really relevant.
You don't have to read what's popular, you don't have to stick to one genre and you certainly don't have to devote your entire life to reading for it to have value and benefit in your life. But reading more as a habit will change you.
In an age where our attention spans our dwindling, our leisure moments are being stolen from us by buzzes and pings and our culture, as a whole, is losing the ability to reason and discuss or even correctly use common vocabulary from 50 years ago, reading is more important than ever. Reading expands our awareness, sharpens our focus, allows us to see from other perspectives, informs us and sharpens us and stretches our academic muscles.
As a mother, especially as a homeschooling mother, reading is one of the greatest habits I can form. From it I've gain skills that I'm asking for from my children. I have grown in my comprehension, vocabulary skills, memory retention, and general literacy skills, not to mention the enjoyment it has brought!
Five Ways To Find Time to Read
Okay, but how to find the time? I promise you, it's probably hiding in plain sight. Here are my favorite places to squeeze in reading to a busy mom life:
1. Reading Aloud Together: We make it a priority to read aloud to our kids. Between our chapter books before bed, the books we read on long car trips and the books assigned to be read for school, I read a lot of books aloud!
2. Reading in the Shower?: This sounds strange, I know, but it is honestly at least an hour of "reading" for me a week. I listen to my current audiobook in the shower each morning with a bluetooth shower speaker.
3. Reading While I'm Getting Ready: I also listen to audibooks when I'm getting ready. I used to listen while I was doing other chores but found I wasn't comprehending as much. When I'm getting ready for the day or for bedtime, I have space to listen. You'd be surprised how much ten or fifteen minutes a day can add up over a week! Especially with an audiobook, you can make it through a lot of material.
4. Reading Before Bed: Did you know that reading before bed has been proven to lower your blood pressure, stress levels and overall give you a better night's sleep? I love winding down from the day this way. Sometimes I will listen to an audiobook after the light has been turned off if my mind needs to settle a little more (though I do carefully choose what kind of book! Some get my heart racing and I find myself wanting to stay up late to hear more).
5. Reaching for a Book, Rather than a Phone: If I wanted to make reading more of a priority, I had to put my phone away. I found that if I left my phone in another room and brought a book with me, I would be more likely to read when I have down time.
I read when my kids are playing nicely but I'm still supervising (like in the backyard or when we're at the beach). I read when I have a break in the day (either before my kids get up or when they're occupied or resting). The more I read, the more I find myself reaching for a book rather than a phone.
The Ongoing Habit of Reading
Just stacking a few of these opportunities together gives me hours of reading each day. Before, I used to sit and read one book at a time, until I was done (usually finishing one book in a handful of days and then not reading another for months and months). I still like to read this way from time to time, but now, when I live with a habit of reading, I usually have upwards of four or five books going at once.
Somewhere in the Charlotte Mason world I came across the concept of always keeping three books (besides the Bible) going at once-- a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel or one of poetry--and always choosing to take up the book you feel fit for in the moment.
I have grown to love this approach because the ideas in each book seem to always make connections somehow, and I love being able to always read something I feel "fit for" rather than trying to slog through a book I don't feel right for in that moment.
In 2024 I’ve committed to reading books I already own with the #readdownyourbookshelf challenge, but no matter how you go about reading, I hope you find more joy in your life through books this year!