Lately, I've been thinking about my own marvelous mother and what she did while I was growing up. I remember her doing laundry, dishes, driving us all over, having us clean doorknobs and mow the lawn, crying with me when I messed up at a tryout that I'd work so hard to be ready for....but I also remember her always READING!!! She took us to the library regulary (I even remember a time when we were at the libray, and I thought I was old enough to go in the elevator on my own, and I got stuck and cried for about a half hour...but that's another story for another day...) I remember her love of books and though I never have enjoyed the same type of books that she enjoys, I use to read a lot! However, since becoming a mom, I don't have time! I never read!...I take that back...I've read five books since becoming a mother. (Not including scripture reading.) The first was a manuscript a friend of mine wrote, so I began to read it as a favor...however, once I began, I devoured it and couldn't put it down. Every time my son napped, I read. Then I read two other non-novel type books that were easy to put down and pick up again months later because I wasn't having to remember a plot. I also read two other books that a single friend of mine highly suggested, encouraged and prodded me to read. I gave in but felt guilty starting to read a book. I mean, I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO THAT NEVER GETS DONE ANYWAY! How could I take time to sit and read?!!! The interesting thing is that while I read each book, I felt more calm in general. I was more patient with my son, sometimes he'd sit by me and "read" his own book or play with his cars, I was happy, somehow got the dishes washed faster so I could get back to reading, and when all the laundry wasn't done, our home didn't fall apart. (Let's be honest, even when I'm not reading a book, it still didn't get done...so what's the difference anyway.)
Now I know that everyone has different family dynamics, and maybe reading is something you've never enjoyed anyway. But I'm still going to push reading as personal time for several reasons. First, as you read, the world opens to you and you're not feeling like life is stagnant. It can be a great way to relax, and rejuvenate. Second, as your children see you read, their love and desire to read will grow (this is true...I really learned it in school and there are about two zillion studies done on it. Your example of reading will help them in school!)
* If you have a baby, don't be afraid to take one nap time to read until you also fall asleep, or until the baby wakes up.
* If you have older children, find a book that you might enjoy reading outloud to them as they listen. (Did you have any favorites from when you were their age that you'd like to read again?)
* You can have reading time while everyone else quietly reads or colors their own book.
* If your children have movie time, why not take part of it for reading time for yourself.
* Maybe after getting the kids to bed, read for a few minutes to settle down instead of rushing around cleaning up Cheerios and cracker crumbs.
* I even recently heard of a mother who would tell her husband it was time to do laundry...and they both knew it meant she was going in the laundry room to calm down and spend some reading time. She had a chair and book in there ready for those needed times.
* Choose one book to read a month, or before a certain holiday...set a goal
* Have a book in the car that's ready for reading when you're waiting at the bus stop to pick your kids up...after all, half the time the bus is late anyway.
Each family has it's own needs and is different. Years will pass, kids will grow, and things will change. There will be a time when you'll have hours of time to read...so don't wish away these busy times. At the same time, remember balance....reading books constantly and neglecting your children isn't good. But, it's also not good to never read. Don't feel guilty to take a little time to read. It's good for you. And it's good for your children's development to see you reading.