Thursday, May 14, 2020

Resurrecting Reading as a Mom: Hands-Free Life (9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better & Loving More)

I used to be a voracious reader. I remember those first few years of marriage when Aron would be cooking (he loves to do it and does it well) and I'd be snuggled up by a fire (our first apartment had a fireplace!) reading a book. I remember Memoirs of a Geisha, Little Altars EverywhereDivine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and a ton more, many of them from Oprah's book club list. (by the way, friend me on Goodreads so we can share book recommendations!)

Then I had my first baby and ... I KEPT READING! I structured my life so that I had plenty of time to read. I nursed my baby to sleep and instead of putting him down somewhere else in the house, I kept him in my arms and picked up a book. Okay, sometimes I watched soap operas and daytime talk shows, but a read a lot. I read mostly nonfiction then ... books on attachment parenting and parenting in general and self-help books so I could try to be the best mom for my kid. After my second baby came along I was able to keep it up ... focus moved to homeschooling books and "how to parent boys" books, since I now had two of those.

After more of my awesome kids came along I still held them all in my arms while they slept, and this just meant that I might be homeschooling a couple while holding a baby. Watching cartoons with them. Chatting with them and journaling our days. After my fifth child stopped napping entirely at age 2, pleasure reading seemed to be a thing of the past. As activities and braces came into our lives, I dove into the world of being a work-at-home mom.

Now, after all these years of split focus and having my mind contain a zillion tiny details of playdate times and places, our sons' job schedules, teaching kids to drive, sports schedules, other activity details, homeschooling five at once, extended family situations, dental and doctor and vision and braces appointments, some travel with my husband for work (Wyoming, Houston, Chicago, Phoenix) — as well as now working part-time from home for the last few years — when I get a free moment, which is rare, I long to dive into Netflix.

(Oh, yeah, and there's that little tidbit I forgot to mention where I've been a proofreader online since 2013. So I do a lot of reading and often get GREAT projects that are educational and enlightening, but I also read a lot of resumes and college papers and fiction I would not normally pick up. So my job leaves me kind of reading fatigued.)

But I am trying so hard to resurrect READING in my life! Which made this book, Hands Free Life, so FITTING. Not only do I want more time to SIT and read, but I am hunting for more of those times where I just sit and wonder at the amazingness of my kids and REALLY listen to them — instead of trying to MANAGE LIFE.

Does this sound familiar to you at all?

So I want to recommend a book to you that I can't seem to finish because it is SO GOOD! I am aware more than ever lately that time with my kids at home is running out. It feels like I JUST had 5 kids under the age of 9 running around! We JUST took 5 kids to Wyoming for a 5-week trip for my husband's work and stayed on a ranch and had the time of our lives. But no, those times were years ago.

As you have probably figured out by now, I am not that mom who is excited for her kids to go off to college so she can have romantic times with her husband and volunteer and read books and work out and learn to crochet. And I know I can't freeze my kids at this age, but I also know I could be savoring them more.

To me, this means less time on Facebook checking in. This means taking the kids on walks with me when I go every other time instead of always going alone. This means getting my proofreading and writing work done by 9 a.m. then shutting down the computer and being available to them the rest of the day for homeschooling, park dates, trips to the skate park, playing basketball in the driveway. It means just being AVAILABLE. Yes, I am physically with my kids pretty much 24/7 but I have to admit I am not always PRESENT.

Update, because I originally started this post in 2018 and am finally getting around to posting it :-) Check out my Summer Reading List 2020 please, which posts soon. I'm going to see if I can grab a copy of this on Scribd as an audiobook to listen to while I walk. Our libraries are still not open around here, so I might just grab a copy off eBay for a few bucks and then I can pass it on to a friend when I'm done with it. I love gifting books (until the day I somehow carve out a huge library in our house!).

Happy reading!

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