As a child, I carried home a stack of books from the library once a week. I loved reading so much that my parents were forced to ground me on more than one occasion after catching me in the closet at 2 a.m. with a flashlight and a book.
Books have been companions for me during the hardest times as I was growing up. Divorce, broken friendships, loneliness and boy troubles could all be escaped temporarily through the pages of a book. I could travel the Oregon trail or set up camp with the boxcar children.
Fast forward to my college years. Nothing kills a boisterous reading habit like being inundated with chapter after chapter of assigned textbook reading. I set my much loved books aside to focus on homework, and then my young marriage, followed by my new babe.
The rhythm of life with a newborn has allowed me to pick up my reading habit again. I have become quite friendly with 2 a.m. once more. Now I read with a baby at the breast instead of a flashlight in a closet. On any given day you can find a book in my purse, on my nightstand, in the living room and in the bag that holds my breast pump.
Motherhood bleeds out into every nook and cranny of our lives. ... There are certain hobbies, however, that make us better people, better moms.
Last year alone, I read 45 books. That's almost a book a week! That kind of reading claims a good amount of my time, often more than an hour each day. With two little ones underfoot, a home to take care of, a "day job" and freelancing, do I really have the time to waste on such a time-consuming hobby?
Let me tell you, I don't feel guilty for a second for the time I devote to reading because I know that my reading habit has made me a better mom.
1. My reading habit is a constant reminder to look at things from another perspective
I am by nature a pretty black-and-white thinker, and as a mom it is easy for me to get stuck in a "my way or the highway" attitude—even though (shockingly) my way might be wrong. More than once I have discovered that my own life experiences were holding me captive in close-mindedness over parenting issues. Books provide an avenue for me to break outside of my biases. This can be through something as straightforward as a non-fiction parenting book or a character who is vastly different from me in my latest fiction read.
2. My reading habit makes me a better playmate
If we allow it, adulthood can become so repetitive, so mundane. Am I the only one who starts to feel dull and boring after performing the same tasks day in and day out? Books are a way for me to flex my imagination muscle, making me a more creative playmate for my girls.
3. My reading habit is a quick escape on a hard day
Some days at home are harder than others, and I have found that the only way to fix a morning turned sour is to simply start over. Sometimes this means sending my grouchy toddler back to bed for 10 minutes while the little one naps and I escape in a book. Other times, we all pile into my bed with a stack of books.
4. My reading habit teaches my girls to love reading
Simply telling our kids that reading is important is not enough. By reading in front of my children, I am a reading role model, and my love of reading will play a big role in raising my girls to appreciate books.
5. My reading habit is a way to wind down at the end of the day
I can't be the only one who has trouble turning off her brain after a busy day. Typically, I will lay in bed running through my list of to-dos. If I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I will have trouble falling asleep. I have recently discovered that a chapter at the end of the day is exactly what I need to turn off my mind so that I can sleep well. When I sleep, I am definitely a more patient and compassionate parent.
Motherhood bleeds out into every nook and cranny of our lives. Isn't the all-encompassing nature of becoming a mom what makes it so wonderful and so difficult at the same time? The demands of parenting young children may require us to let go of hobbies, habits and friendships that don't jive with the life you desire for your family.
There are certain hobbies, however, that make us better people, better moms. Maybe running is to you what reading is to me. As we are consumed by this new role of mama, let's remember to hold on tightly to the things that keep us happy, healthy and sane.