Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finding Time to READ to your children

Previously posted on Tuesday, Mar 18, 2008 on my old blog.

I am like many of you mom's- BUSY! And yet- I remember a time, a few years ago, when my children were small(er) and life was less hectic and I felt busy and overwhelmed and "Who has time to read to their kids every day?!" was a plaguing question in the back of my mind...
Just another failing of mine as a mother that was going to scar my children for life. (OH! Common- you do it too! We beat ourselves up as mothers... always comparing ourselves to the "ideal" mom we dreamed we would be... when we were 6 years old and playing with our baby dolls.)
But I am lucky- because I have a wonderful sister, who is an avid reader and whose home looks more like a Borders Book store than a typical home. ( Huge bookcases in every room- stacked FULL of books. I'll try to get a picture from her...) And her children are readers- readers- readers!
Anyway- she really has been a great resource in my personal journey of helping my children read more. So I thought I would share some of my findings with you ( my Internet friends) who maybe don't have such an awesome big sister to inspire you.

First- have books around. In every room. ( bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.. etc..) And display them- don't have them just lined up in bookcases- with their colorful covers hidden... have them out propped up on your coffee table, side tables, with the toys... so they are available.

Secondly- take cues from your children as to what kinds of books might interest them. For example, one son LOVES dogs. We have a ton of picture books with dogs but also non-fiction books about dogs. My son reads out of his, "How to Train Your Dog" book at least every other day. (When he was 5 or so- it was dinosaurs... and same thing- Fiction and non-fiction books were available...)

Third tip- keep books in your car! ( This really surprised me, when I saw the book box in my sisters car. I would have NEVER thought to do that- because I've always gotten so car sick if I even look at a book in a car. But not all people are like that- especially kids. For example- as I child I could swing for hours without getting motion sick.. now I sit on one for a minute and I feel sick to my stomach.)

Another advantage if you have books in your car... you will have books to take with you while you wait at the doctors office, dentist, while the oil is changed in your car, while you are waiting for one child's hockey practice to end... it is a GREAT time and place to fit reading in- everyone is already sitting down! :0)

It is a lot easier to fit reading in- when the books are just a finger tip away..

Now as far as finding the perfect time to read to your kids... I've found "at the end of the day" isn't always the best time for me mentally. Some days I am just sooo tired and just want the kids to just go to bed so I can catch up on my housework or accomplish something for me- like shower.. ... So I try to not wait until 8:30 at night.

Sometimes I read to them in the morning to wake them up. ( My 8 year old always has a hard time starting his day.) If I was good and woke up early to walk the dog with my oldest son, I usually have 15 minutes before the school age kids need to get ready for the day. It is always a nice, quiet, snuggle moment and they wake up happier too.

For my preschool age son- I try to wait until my 2 year old is napping. That is my quiet moment with this son. It usually is his the only time where he gets my full attention... and this leads into our "quiet" time-- where he can read books, or watch a movie, or take a nap. ( I usually fall asleep first. )

And my 2 year old.. we read/look at books before his afternoon nap. I keep a few board books in his room on my rocking chair.. so we sit for a few minutes... look at a book or two and then I lay him down. ( Lately he has wanted to bring the book into bed with him! How cute!)

And lastly- my 11 year old. I don't read with him daily. I read what he is reading and we talk about what he is reading, "Where are you? What did you think of ---??" And of course do book club! Sometimes- rarely- I'll read a chapter or two out-loud to him- before he goes to bed...sometimes.. . not as often as he would like.

And my last bit of advice for finding time to read- I've heard a few people say this...
When they had children they made a decision that if their child ever came to them with a book- they would stop what they were doing and read it to them. PERIOD. (Stop washing dishes, stop folding clothes, stop cooking dinner, etc. etc... stop watching OPRAH-- (huh???) stop stamping and card making.. (WHAT!?!- okay sometimes a line has to be drawn! Just kidding)
But I really thought that was a great idea.. and I've tried to do that... when I remember. Because really, the dishes will always be there but your 4 year old won't. And those things can wait- especially for a story that will take 5 minutes- TOPS. The times I've done this.. I sit, read the story, and the kids jump up and are off playing again. It really isn't that big of a interruption- but what a great moment for the both of you!
Okay- with that... I have to stop and read to my 5 year old! :0) He can't stand it when I get on the computer!
Enjoy your children and read to them!

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