Thursday, June 8, 2017

Reading with Kid: A Work in Progress

My son turned two at the end of April. I don't know how my baby is now a full-blown toddler -- he has been for quite a while now to be honest. Looking back at "1 year ago today" or "2 years ago today" pictures on my phone kind of kills me. It's such a cliche, but the time really does fly by so fast. And, no, I was not prepared for toddlerhood. AT ALL. I thought having a baby would be the biggest life adjustment, but now I'm not so sure. Going from having a needy, cuddly baby to a stubborn, ants-in-his pants toddler has been an education for sure. Babies and toddlers change so rapidly that whenever I feel like I sort of have a handle on a particular stage, it's onto a new one! I feel like the same thing has happened with my reading since he was born. I figured my reading habits would change once I became a mother, but I didn't anticipate how frequently they would continue to change as the months went by.

In the early days, I read far more than I thought I would because I read when I was pumping. I really hated pumping, so getting to read a book was a bit of a treat to help the time pass. I wasn't reading anything heavy or difficult, but I really surprised myself with how many print books I was finishing during the newborn days. It also helped that I was awake for way more hours than usual, so while I was so very tired, I was reading quite a lot as well.

After that short-lived phase, when he was completely on formula, I would sneak a few pages while feeding him or rocking in the rocking chair. These were oftentimes when he was sleepy -- and small enough to basically fit in one arm. I'd prop up a book and read so long as he was content, which was pretty often. There wasn't much better than snuggling up with my baby and a book during that stage.

Then, as he got a bit bigger, but wasn't verbal yet, I went through a big audiobook phase. I read aloud and talked to him SO MUCH throughout the day, that I didn't feel bad popping in headphones while we were out on walks and he was happily looking out at everything around him and soaking it all in. (I think we both needed a break from the sound of my voice, to be honest!) I listened to multiple Diana Gabaldon marathon audiobooks with no trouble at all over the course of several months. And if I could get the audiobook for my book club selection, I never had any issues finishing before our meetings. I did have a really hard time getting through print books though -- they were taking me forever because I didn't have much time for sitting still, non-audiobook reading.

Now at two years old, my son is talking up a storm, so I no longer listen to audiobooks while he's chatty -- which he always is when we go on walks. Occasionally, I will put on a children's audiobook in the car or on my phone with the speaker turned up, but it doesn't happen all that often. At this stage, he's much more engaged when a real-life person reads to him and he has pictures to look at. So for now, I'm back to a slower pace for audiobooks since I am mainly listening when I am not on solo kid duty, doing housework, after he's asleep, or on the occasional kiddo-less walk or drive. But when it comes to print books, I'm finding I have more time again! My son is getting better at playing on his own (as long as I'm in the room or nearby), but I can't be on my laptop or he's all over it trying to push buttons and "play" with it. So that means I can't get any work done during playtime, but it's a lovely "excuse" to read a chapter of a novel, dive into a graphic novel, or even to read some more "advanced" picture books for my own enjoyment. I think it's good that he sees me reading rather than on a screen and will be even more important as he gets older. As it is, I still think I spend too much time on screens and it's something I am trying to work on. Just yesterday he came over to me at my desk in the evening and said "no more computer!" Out of the mouths of babes, right?

So, if you're a parent, I'm curious how your reading has changed since your kiddo(s) came along? Any tips or tricks to cut down on distractions and screen time also appreciated!


  1. It really is interesting hearing about your reading journey since having a child - and 2 already! Wow!

    Prior to having Alexander, I worked and did a large amount of reading on my public transport commute, usually ending the evening with a book in hand also. Now, I'm a SAHM and fit my reading in wherever I can.

    What I find works for me now is to plan my reading time... I do miss spontaneously picking up a book, and if the opportunity arises I take full advantage of it, but blocking in time slots for reading really helps me to keep on top of my books. I do most of my reading before Alexander wakes up, and after he goes to bed. Unfortunately not every day though, as this is the time I fit in blogging also.

    I agree with you; I think reading whilst in the presence of your child is a great thing, and much better than being on a screen. A wonderful way to promote reading as an enjoyable pastime.

    1. Time to read before your son wakes up sounds like a dream! We are currently in a phase where my little guy is up at 545am -- occasionally as early as 515. On an odd day he'll sleep a little later, but never past 7, and usually only a little past 6, if I'm lucky. I (or more often, my husband) am just barely able to drag myself out of bed when I hear him most days, and he usually waits for us longer than he would like!

      I downloaded an app called Moment to track how long I'm on my phone each day and it's definitely helping keep me more accountable and remind me to just put it down and forget about it more often (and to delete apps that are too much of a time-suck.)

      I totally get the fitting in reading wherever you can -- that's definitely how I operate these days! And making sure I'm not just picking up dense novels helps with not feeling like it always takes me forever to finish anything. Never enough hours in the day, right?

  2. Hmm, this all sounds familiar! :) I also was surprised by how many books and audiobooks I blazed through in the first few months of nursing and rocking. I still listen to audiobooks/podcasts on our walks and doing housework, but that's about it. And my print reading has definitely slowed down as well. My kiddo can occasionally play by himself for a few minutes at a time, and I've told myself that I can pick up a book while he's doing that, but not my phone. Just like you, I want him to see me reading. Every minute counts, right? :)

    1. The playtime will definitely increase as your kiddo gets older. It's the best kind of multitasking to read and show a good example, right?

      If I'm reading a graphic novel or even a picture book to myself (I've been reading some more non-fiction ones and others way above a toddler's level -- research for the future perhaps? Oh, who am I kidding, I just like them myself now that I've really dove in.), I'll ask him if he wants to look at it with me if she stops playing and comes looking for my attention.

  3. I have been using the Forest App on my phone to cut wayyyyyy back on my phone time when I am trying to be productive and hang out with my son. It's been awesome!

    I definitely saw an uptick in my reading once my son turned two or so, just because he was able to play more, for longer. Now he's obsessed with puzzles and coloring, which has been great for my reading. Him seeing my husband and I read so much has definitely paid off, because he is definitely a little reader himself.

    1. I got the Forest app a week or two ago, but I keep on forgetting to use it! Since I do work part-time from home, I think it will be particularly helpful for making myself take a meaningful break during my son's nap (as in, not just putz around on my phone or the computer and actually relax with my book while I eat lunch). This way I can actually be a little refreshed before trying to work instead of pushing through and finding my concentration is completely shot and I'm super easily distracted after so many hours with a toddler (which it always is).

      And I totally love that reading in front of my kid is good for him. I mean twist my arm why don't ya :)


I'd love to hear what you think :)