Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Salon: My Reading Life (or How I Read with a Baby)

The Sunday Salon.comThe Wellness Office is sponsoring a two-month reading challenge, cleverly called The Well Read Challenge. There are some prizes, and each week has the opportunity for bonus points. The main piece of it, though, is to beat the weekly reading goal for number of minutes read per week. The first week, I got the calendar in campus mail, and I saw the goal was to read 125 minutes that week (each week the goal increases by 10 minutes.) That day, I read for 180 minutes (to be fair, I was on vacation that day and spent three hours driving from the Kansas City airport back home to Des Moines.) Going into this challenge, I didn't have a good sense of how much I read each week. After the first week, I had an answer: 900 minutes. That sounds like a lot, but it's really not that much. The second week: 900 minutes again, despite very different numbers day-to-day.

I started thinking: when I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was not having time to read after Hawthorne was born. (It's a first world problem, I know, but I feel most like myself when I'm reading, so it's really part of my fear of not being me after he was born.) So far, I'm feeling pretty good about how much I read, even if it isn't always when or where I want (or how I used to.)

How I Read 900 Minutes a Week (Give or Take) With a Baby:

1. In the morning
I'm the one who gets up with Hawthorne in the morning. He's now sleeping through the night, which means we're both waking up happy and ready for snuggles, even if it's 6 a.m. We go downstairs, I make my coffee and Hawthorne's bottle, feed him, let him play in his exer-saucer, while I enjoy my morning coffee and my book. After a full night's sleep and a bottle, he's usually content to amuse himself for close to thirty minutes. It's not like the old days, when I would read for an hour over coffee before work, but it's still nice to sneak in a few pages before work. When he (briefly) slept until 7 after the time change, I got up before him to read, but 6 a.m. is early enough.

2. Audiobooks
The biggest change in how I read with a baby is audiobooks. Mr. Nomadreader and I work fairly opposite schedules, so when I'm with Hawthorne, it's usually just the two of us. We listen to audiobooks in the car, while I was dishes, while I cook, while I feed him, and every chance we get. I average about an hour a day during the week and up to four hours a day on the weekend.

3. Naptime
Hawthorne is not a regular napper. He naps 2-3 times a day for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. His naps are my time to read. I don't when he will go down for one, but I do know when he does, it's my reading time. You won't find me cleaning while he sleeps. His naps, even on short nap days, are one of the reasons I still read a lot more on the weekends than I do during the week.

4. Play time
Since he was born, I've encouraged Hawthorne to play independently. When he's in his exer-saucer or on his playmat, it's as though he steps into his own world. I sit nearby, sometimes on the floor next to him or sometimes on the couch where he can see me, and I read. It's not usually the best reading time, as I spend as much time marveling at him as I do reading, but it's still nice. I also try to read a print book at these times so I'm modeling a reading life for him.

5. Nighttime
Hawthorne goes to sleep at 6 p.m. It's earlier than I would like, and I was really hoping his bedtime would become 7 p.m. with the time change, but he has a mind of his own. On the nights Mr. Nomadreader and I are both home, I usually don't read much after Hawthorne goes to bed. But on the nights I'm home alone, I sneak in a couple of hours before switching to television.

I'm glad the hobby I'm most passionate about is reading because I can take it anywhere. I can stop at any point, even though I prefer to stop at chapter breaks.

Now tell me: whether you're a parent or not, when do you sneak in reading time?

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  1. I am a parent, but mine is long grown and gone. I did a lot of what you mentioned when mine was little. She grew up knowing that her mom read. Now, I go back and forth with reading. A little here, a little there, and depending on what's scheduled for the day, listening to audio more or sometimes less. Always when I'm in the car alone. And, I didn't do "housework" when my daughter slept either. LOL

  2. You are amazing! Since I'm homeschooling three kids and a little one on the way, I have to snatch whatever time I can get to read. It's usually not much since I'm usually fast asleep by 8 p.m. :-)

  3. These pics are so cute.

    I read a lot when my kids were young. It slowed down a little when they were mobile and curious and into everything but not by much. I found that I needed reading more when I had kids. I needed that tune-out time so most of the time I read at work or once they were in bed.

  4. That sounds about right. I have to say, congratulations on letting Hawthorne play independently. You don't know how important that is going to be as he gets older. I know too many people who feel that they have to provide entertainment for their children, and then watch them struggle when in a social setting because the kids honestly have no idea what to do with themselves.

    As for your reading, I think you have found a great balance. You know your priorities and have found a way to make it work for you. I love this post and hope you share it far and wide with others.

  5. I'm not a parent yet, but I love seeing how parents fit reading time into their lives!


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