There are several habits I try to limit when I’m in front of my son. Watching mindless TV, scrolling through social media on my phone, cursing when some *%^#@! cuts me off in traffic.
But there’s one habit I’ve started doing more when he’s around: reading.
Not just reading to him—we do plenty of that, too. But reading for myself. Anytime he starts racing his cars or stacking blocks, I’ll pick up a book and sneak in a little reading time for as long as I can.
I think it’s important not just to have some downtime for myself, but also to show him how passionate I am about reading—and to cultivate that passion in him, as well.
After all, the kids in our lives look up to us and imitate our habits. They might as well be a force for good once in a while.
It shows kids how important reading is
It’s one thing to read a few picture books to my kid before bed. But when he glances up and sees me immersed in a book—is there a better way to show him how exciting books are and how important they can be in our lives?
I was inspired to prioritize my own reading when another book blogger, Jamie, discussed how the arrival of her daughter changed her reading habits—almost entirely for the better.
I realized that a quick dive into a book isn’t just a guilty pleasure. It’s instructive to show him how integral reading is in my life. I can say reading is fundamental until I’m blue in the face, but demonstrating it in my own life has a special power.
I’ve learned how to fit reading into my ever-changing schedule
I used to have long chunks of reading time because I commuted to work two hours every day. When I started working from home, I lost that set-aside time and struggled to find unbroken stretches of time to dive into books.
But now I’ve realized that I don’t have to read for an hour to enjoy a book. I can dip in and out of it, even after the kid is in bed and I need to finish up an assignment, or do some laundry, or (sometimes?) work out—I can always slip a little reading or audiobook time in for a few minutes.
Those 15-minute stretches really start to add up!
It teaches me to read in a new way
Reading in short bursts—and keeping track of the story even if I don’t have time for a deep dive—has been a really valuable skill to learn.
Now I think really carefully about what I just read, and because it’s incorporated into my life more—in between errands and work events and daycare pickup—I tend to think about the books I’m reading as I go about my day.
For instance, right now I’m reading Lilly Singh’s How to Be a Bawse, and it is absolutely perfect for sprint-reading like this. The chapters are quick, and they’re also very thought-provoking. If I were to read it all in a sitting or two, I very likely wouldn’t absorb each of her lessons and really think about how to set and achieve my goals.
I am not going to win any awards for finishing books quickly; I’ve been reading Singh’s book for about a month now. But luckily for me, it’s not a competition.
Setting personal boundaries
It’s absolutely vital for me, as a relatively new parent, to continue pursuing my interests and doing things for myself.
But even acting in my own self-interest has important implications for my son. I want to show him that Mama has her own life and her own passions—and that he too can build a reading life all of his own.
And I do it all by having a little reading fun. Win-win!