How Do You Make Time for Reading?

I thought life would slow down a bit once school ended. How wrong I was! After a month filled with baseball and softball games, Boy Scout meetings, talent show rehearsals, a ballet recital, field trips, eighth grade graduation, and many other activities and events that I’ve already forgotten, I was sure life would return to a manageable pace.

Kindle in the wild

My feeble attempt at a Kindle in the wild.

Instead, the end of the school year culminated in a 3-day trip
out-of-town followed by the installation (thank you, Jesus!) of air conditioning units throughout the house and eight days of swimming lessons for the three youngest children.

I’m constantly flailing around for ingredients to turn into some kind of dinner as I do dishes, laundry, keep the kids happy and active, and traipse behind the child whose new moniker is “he who will not be potty trained.”

I’ve had little to no time for writing, which stings when my mind is churning with ideas. I have, however, managed to do some reading.

Years passed early in my marriage during which I thought I had no time to read. In retrospect, I find that laughable. Yes, I worked full-time and had a home and husband, but I had no children. I was busy, I’m sure, but I couldn’t find any time to read beyond work-required periodicals. Really?

When I quit working outside of the home in 2005, I went on a reading binge and never looked back. Here’s how I manage to read more than ever:

  • My Kindle. I can easily prop it on a window ledge or pillow or tote it inside my purse. It enables me to read easily at home or on the go.  I’ve read while nursing babies, doing dishes, or folding laundry.
  • While my kids go to sleep. Our kids have always wanted someone to lie down with them while they fall asleep. I’ve done that for more than a decade. But not until we acquired a good book light and a backlit Kindle have I been able to use that quiet time to sneak in some reading. I can lie alongside the little ones in the dark and keep from falling asleep myself by doing a little reading.
  • Taking advantage of idle time. Okay, I don’t really have much idle time, but now and then I do, and I use it to read. Take for instance these past two weeks. Three of my kids have swimming lessons at two separate times. If I made multiple runs to the pool, leaving 1-2 kids in the teenager’s care, it meant I had about 40 minutes in which to read while they swam. Parents were not permitted in the pool area until the last five minutes of lessons, so what else could I do but read?
  • Audiobooks on trips. I rarely, rarely have extended time alone in the car, but when I do, I listen to an audiobook.
  • Instead of watching TV. Truth be told, I generally prefer a book to a TV show or movie. So, while my husband and son are watching Agents of Shield, The Flash, or Arrow after the little kids have gone to bed, I often sit nearby, reading. Sometimes I even read while I’m watching TV if it’s not something that requires my full-attention. I’m not sure if I’d recommend that distracted habit, but it’s what I do.

I find that we make time to do the things that are important to us one way or another. Reading is one of my great pleasures, and therefore I make the time. Some days it just doesn’t happen as other things take a higher priority, but usually, where there’s a will there’s a way.

How do you make time to read?


12 thoughts on “How Do You Make Time for Reading?

    • I’d love to have a stationery bike or something that I could get some exercise on while I read! I imagine I’d have a hard time getting off the bike!

  1. Love the “Kindle in the wild” picture! Not feeble at all!
    I try to read before bed. I’ve noticed that I sleep way better when I read a paperback instead of watching TV or even writing before bed. The only problem is I want to read just one more chapter until I’m up past my bedtime and finally have to force myself to close the book.
    I also have a few audio books for long trips, which I listen to with ear buds. But then I get accused of ignoring my husband who is driving!

    • They say screens are bad before sleeping, so that makes sense. My husband has a tendency to fall asleep at the wheel, so I have to watch tuning out with the ear buds too!

  2. Whenever I can! I read while eating breakfast or lunch since those are not sit-down family meals. I watch very little TV so I use my down time to read instead. And I do bring my Kindle in the car when I’m picking up TheKid from rehearsals or practice. They’re never done on time, so I sit there and read.

    When I used to go to the gym I was able to put my Kindle on the exercise bike and read while pedaling. But the gym and my morning schedule don’t mix anymore. I have an exercise machine at home but it won’t accommodate a Kindle so I watch the news while I work out.

  3. Great post! I’ve been struggling to read more – as Stephen King says, ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’ I should be phasing back on the TV I think!

  4. Personally I’m a full time freelance writer & author, and my biggest issue with making time to read is that I always feel like I should be working on one of my projects instead! But I do make sure I carve out at least 20 minutes a day, even if it takes a lot of work to shut up that guilty voice.

    • Making a daily commitment is a great habit. I often feel more of my reading time should be spent writing, but reading takes much less concentration and is so flexible compared to writing.

  5. I am trying to make more time for reading. The issue I have is that a book has to ensnare my attention from page one. I blame myself because I watched a lot of TV and movies, and didn’t read outside the obligatory books for school. I feel like I’m paying for it now. But I am trying to be more proactive in reading. And not just in my favorite genre and format. I’m trying to branch out in other genres, making a conscious effort to stick with a story from the exposition to the denouement.

    • I find that the more I write, the pickier I am about books and ones I’ll actually read to the end. Like you, I went through a whole period where the only reading I did was “required,” and it does dampen your enthusiasm for reading. Reading outside your favorite genres is a great discipline – keeps you from getting stuck in a rut!

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