Most of us are busy. We’ve got relationships to nurture with a spouse, parents, siblings, friends, and possibly kids. We’ve got jobs that consume most of our waking hours. If you do have young ones, they consume much of your at-home time, caring for their needs and also capitalizing on the privilege of building a solid relationship with them.
I leave for work before 7:30am, and I am NOT a morning person. I couldn’t get up consistently early to read a book (or for most reasons actually) if my career depended on it. I know this because in college I had to coax myself out of bed for those 8am classes by feeding my alarm with a pep talk I had recorded for myself… “It is time to wake up! Whatever excuse your mind is giving you that you don’t need to get up right now, it is not true!!” Fast forward to motherhood, and my kids are not permitted to get up before 7:00am and even then I try to push it to 7:30 (or as late as possible on Saturdays!) You may be asking how I got through the sleepless nights of baby-land. I had a really hard time, and I have not yet cleared this phase of life. In fact, my one year old has just recently started consistently sleeping through the night. However, my five year old tries to climb in bed with me almost every single night. Depending on my level of wakefulness, I either take her back to her bed (which is obnoxious because then I need to stand there until she is groggy enough to not notice that I’ve left), or pretend not to notice that she is climbing into bed (because I don’t want her to think it is okay to sleep with us).
All that to say, there is no way I am getting up any earlier to read.
I get home from work at 5pm. Just in time to start making dinner while my two older kids incessantly ask me for snacks, which I have to serve them because we don’t eat dinner until 7pm. Once they are settled down with their pre-dinner, I make the meal with my one year old usually doing one of two things; either banging pots that he has yanked from the cupboard he loves to play in, or, standing at my feet crying for me to pick him up. Usually it ends up taking over an hour to make a 30 minute meal because of all the stopping and starting, refereeing, and occasional yelling I need to do as I cook.
No reading, or even audio booking to be done successfully here.
My husband gets home just in time for dinner and the baby bedtime routine. After that, the kids want to hang out, of course! They haven’t seen us all day and they love us, and particularly for my oldest, his love-language is Time. Neither I nor my husband find this particular love language a fundamental need in our relationship building perspectives. But of course, we know that Time is important to him and so we sit and play games and read, or run around and wrestle etc. until bedtime at 8:30pm (on school nights). I should point out that if we did not have a particularly Time loving child, this hour before bed would still be spent building relationships with the kids, but it might look a little bit different, maybe, from my viewpoint, a bit less engaged but still together.
After 9:00pm, my husband and I can spend uninterrupted time together and work on our relationship, and other nights we each pursue our own ‘me’ time doing things that (hopefully) replenish our energy. As I mentioned, neither of us are Time hungry people, which allows for a good potentially productive three hour chunk of time each evening (we are both night owls).
So, in all that organized chaos, where do I find my ideal 2+ hours to read?
My morning and evening commutes are 50 minutes each. For this type of situation, and many others, audiobooks are a wonderful innovation my friend. Some might say it is cheating, but too bad. I (mostly, with certain narrator exceptions) love audiobooks! I can read or listen to a book for the entire trip, including the 20 minute walking portion, without falling into an open manhole or something equally as dangerous or embarrassing. if I don’t get a seat for the 30 minute train journey, I continue with the audio. If I am lucky enough to snag a resting place, I pull out a “real” book, or perhaps my iPad.
My commute is such a blessing because it affords me over an hour and a half of reading time each day, which I do pretty faithfully use.
When lunch rolls around, sometimes I do the social thing, and other times I hole up in my office or go for a walk (in the beautiful downtown core of Vancouver) and read for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. As long as I fit this in, I know I am approaching my 2 hour goal.
And then, that glorious 3 hours of at home, do whatever I want time. Often, this means audio while cleaning up the dinner mess, or relaxing in a nice, hot, bath. Sometimes, it means heading out to the well equipped workout facilities in our strata complex. Other times, it means sitting in bed and actually using my eyes to read until I am too tired to comprehend the words.
While I do not use this time to read every night, I absolutely appreciate having the choice of whether or not to take advantage of the opportunity.
In the end I have to laugh a little because I realize now that I actually have about five hours worth of reading time each weekday. Easily even. However, I have not effectively utilized all of that on a regular basis as of yet. Reading that consistently could allow me to consume 150+ books per year. in 2014 so far I have read only 16. I am excited about the possibility of drastically upping the input of quality information and storytelling I am feeding my brain.