10 Ways to Fit in Reading When You Have Small Children

In my pre-child life, I was a librarian. It probably will come as no surprise to you that I love books and reading.

I was one of those rare people who absolutely loved my 30-mile commute because it meant I had uninterrupted time to listen to audiobooks every day for an hour total.

Of course, once you have children, squeezing in time for reading can be difficult. Here are some of my secrets for fitting books into your life — whether you have a new baby or a couple of rambunctious little ones bouncing around your house:

  • #1: Keep a big stack of books on hand

    #1: Keep a big stack of books on hand

    I try to have several books on my bedside table and more by the couch so that whenever the urge to read strikes, I have something immediately available.

  • #2: Don't feel like you have to read serious books

    #2: Don't feel like you have to read serious books

    If you love the classics, great! Go for it. But if you’re the type that ends up not reading at all because you feel like you should be reading something hefty, cut yourself some slack and pick up whatever looks fun, whether it’s a young adult novel, some chick lit, or non-fiction.

  • #3: Take a book with you everywhere you go

    #3: Take a book with you everywhere you go

    You never know when you’ll end up with a couple extra minutes, whether it’s at the doctor’s office, in front of a friend’s house, in line at the post office, or sitting in your own garage while the baby sleeps in the carseat.

  • #4: Use a digital reader

    #4: Use a digital reader

    I have a Kindle, which is really bare bones and portable. I can toss it in my purse or read one-handed while I nurse.

  • #5: Embrace audiobooks

    #5: Embrace audiobooks

    I clearly remember laying on the floor of my baby’s room with her on my chest during the early weeks (at about 3 am) and listening to Little Bee. Obviously, I’d rather have been snoozing in my bed, but since I couldn’t be, at least I got to listen to something interesting rather than stare at the ceiling.

  • #6: Go to bed 15 minutes early

    #6: Go to bed 15 minutes early

    It’s hard for me to force myself to go to bed, but if I know I get a few extra minutes of reading, not only do I get through a lot more books, I also get a more reasonable night’s sleep. Win-win!

  • #7: Listen on double speed

    I know this sounds insane, but I promise within about 15 minutes, you’ll be totally used to it. And you’ll get through twice as many books!

    (Here are instructions to set your iPhone to play at double speed).

  • #8: Join a bookclub

    #8: Join a bookclub

    Not only will it motivate you to read, but you’ll have a great excuse to get out of the house at least once a month and meet with other book lovers. What’s not like?

  • #9: Let your children learn to play on their own at the park

    #9: Let your children learn to play on their own at the park

    The park is supposed to be its own source of entertainment for kids – you don’t need to be going down the slides with them. Pick a spot where you can keep a close eye on them, and let them be kids. Get a few pages of reading in while they wear themselves out.

  • #10: Have family reading time

    #10: Have family reading time

    Let your spouse read to the baby while you read your own book. Or give your toddler a stack of books and let him read them on his own while you read your stack.

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