Hello! We’re teaming up with Leesa.com to bring you our tips and tricks when it comes to spending a day, or two, or heck, the whole weekend reading your favorite book(s). And since both Heather and I are moms, we decided to include a little twist to our tips….managing to read while you still have the responsibility of parenting. So without further ado, I bring you our Rainy Day Read-a-thon post…..
I have always been a great lover of books. More at ease lost in the worlds inked on written pages than the reality of the one that actually surrounds me. So, I am no stranger to spending hours, even days, in bed reading as though the cure for an impending blindness could only be obtained by reaching the last word on the final page of the book I was currently obsessed with. As such, I have required very little motivation or prompting to jump neck deep into one of these book gorgings. Side note: weekend long book submersions have always resulting in my losing a few pounds, as I don’t break my connection with my imaginary friends except to stave off dehydration and hygiene on the brink of attracting insects.
BUT, as I am now the mother of four beautiful, attention vying children, it can be extremely difficult to find an opportunity to indulge in hours, much less days, of book binging. The following are some of my tips and helpful hints at scoring a reading oasis for mommy, or daddy, without leaving your children with a feeling of abandonment that you will get blamed for later in therapy sessions. Yet another side note: if you’re the parents of children under three, finding the opportunity to read that doesn’t result in bodily harm to your child, your possessions, or sleep deprived under eye bags that more than surpass carry on, is akin to riding bareback on a unicorn, sipping thigh slimming wine from the Holy Grail. Believe me, I tried.
The easiest and most obvious suggestion is that if you have a spouse or life partner: tag, they’re it. Now depending on your kid/kids’ level of attachment to you, this will likely get you an hour, ideally hours, of reading time. But unless you can sell you teammate on the idea of taking the progeny on a weekend getaway, you’ll likely have to tag back in. If fate is feeling particularly cruel, it will be in the middle of the best thing you’ve ever read. Here, you will find yourself at the second tier of balancing parenting and binge reading.
If you are a single parent, as I am, you start out on this second tier. And if you’ve graduated to this level from the previously discussed one, it becomes a tricky balance of assuaging your guilt from ‘ignoring’ your child and sprinkling in well planned out, time reduced, quality packed dollops of attention. The key to accomplishing this is pre-planning.
First, your locale. Although a comfy mattress is the ultimate place to marathon read, unless you just have one kid, and an easily entertained one at that, I would suggest an more open venue, like the living room. Sofa/couch lounge reading is still a pretty lovely setup.
The easiest, no brainer choice at keeping your littles entertained for a solid chunk of time is movies. But if you’re anything like me, and you’re lucky enough for your child or children to make it through one entire film, your Mom guilt may start to flare up that you’re pushing your children off on a mind melting babysitting technique. In this case, it may be time to break up the monotony with some brain stimulating distractions. But hey, if your kids will sit through multiple videos at a time, you’ll get no judgement from me. Or many other Moms for that matter, as treats like extensive reading aren’t things that we get to indulge in often. I’d venture to say that my changing of tactics from movies has largely to do with the fact that if I’m lucky enough to get them all four to agree on one movie to watch together, it’s usually a sheer miracle if I can get it to happen consecutively.
So, the first low maintenance brain activity is coloring. I keep both coloring books and coloring pages that I have printed out. My crayons, colored pencils, and markers are all washable, so I may have cleanup to contend with, but no permanent damage. When that engagement runs its course, I like to fill in between activities with everybody’s favorite pastime: snacks. Prepacked, set up and on hand. And if anyone balks on eating, just move on to the next activity. They’ll come back to it, and you’ll have it ready and it will cause minimal downtime from your reading endeavours.
And I know that some people have older children. I do myself. And while it may seem beneath their age level, you’d be surprised at some of the things that older children will concede to do when they think no one is looking. My girls are preteens and pretty good at entertaining themselves, i.e. cell phones, but I still like to try to get them involved in more mind healthy exertions. Mom guilt is a beast.
Along some of the same lines as coloring, I’ll set up crafts for them to do. That being said, be smart in your crafting choices. Choose a craft that requires minimal supervision and results in minimal cleanup. Which means you should steer clear of glitter altogether. Find another way to bring some sparkle into your life.
Board games are another fun option. Again, you need to use discretion in choosing ones that require minimal participation from you. But I like to toss these in after they’ve been on autopilot for a while. It does mean more reading breaks, but it goes a long way in beating back that Mom guilt monkey on my back.
My next suggestion may look like the icing on the Mommy is being lazy cake, but hey, it is kind of the point in having a readathon, if you can get the gods to smile down on you, sometimes I will throw in getting them to do an easy chore: like folding and putting away clothes. I embrace that I am teaching my children responsibilities and life skills and try not to look at it as my kids are watching themselves and cleaning the house while I kick my feet up and read.
Also, in the game family, don’t underestimate the power of a game of hide and seek or charades. Tell them that Mommy is going to be the referee/judge. You can even be home base. This puts you in the position to get optimal reading done.
These are suggestions to get you started or in the mindset to plan your way into several hours, and hopefully maybe an entire day of reading. Plug in your kids’ favorite low maintenance activities and foods, be open to coming up with spontaneous options, and “may the odds be ever in your favor.”