Monday, April 7, 2014

The Bookish Mum: Reading to Feed Your Soul and Intellect - A Series

Welcome to a little series where I hope we'll be able to explore why reading is important to mums, how to make time for reading books, and how to find books you'll love. I'm hoping to write a couple posts here and there that can be part a series that will help us all feel a little more encouraged in making time for ourselves through reading. Many people have asked me how I make time to read, and although this isn't groundbreaking I'm going to try and answer some questions and if you come up with more ask away!

First, let's talk about why reading books is still important for Mums.

In the midst of babies, toddlers, small children, and all that comes with them like the sleepless nights, the every day need for food at least three times a day, (or if you're two years old, 50 times per day), maintaining some level of household cleanliness, and maybe even getting out of the house every once in a while, there comes the question: How do you find time to read?!

We all know that motherhood completely changes every part of our lives. It changes our everyday to the point where we have to re-evaluate all our priorities. Discovering this new everyday mothering rhythm where we find that sweet spot of nurturing and loving our babies while taking care of ourselves can take awhile. It took me until after the birth of my first, second, and even third child, to figure out my mothering rhythm where I could make time everyday for things I enjoyed, like reading.

It's good to remind ourselves that when we become mothers we still remain ourselves. Our personalities, interests, passions, and hobbies are all still there but need to be refocused. Reading can help in pursuing our interests as well as continuing our love of learning but often gets sidetracked. But once we haven't read in a while it can be daunting to get back into the habit. Or we may have misplaced pressure from our reading days at college, or our previous profession. If we begin to look at reading as an opportunity in our days to feed both our soul and mind without the pressure of jobs, deadlines, and papers reading can become both easier and a source of personal renewal.

Reading really does feed our hearts and souls. We spend busy days and exhausting nights giving to our children. Books invite us to enter into someone else's story; to feel joy, sadness, excitement when our days feel remarkably alike. Our hearts grow through stories, we see humanity in a new light, and experiences in a way that which we could never imagine. Moving outside of ourselves in this way can bring us relief on the tough days.

It can be really difficult to find quiet and solitude in the everyday when we're raising small children. Another advantage in reading is the solitude and quiet is can give us in the midst of chaos. Spending even 15 minutes while babies nap, or while older kids are enjoying quiet time of their own, or an occasional dose of Dora, can refresh us in surprising ways. The concerted effort it takes to create quiet time for ourselves is so important for our peace of mind and sanity sometimes. The refreshing of our attitude is good not only for our souls but our kid's as well.

Another way of looking at the value of reading as a mum is thinking about how we're trying to raise our children. We want to encourage the growth of the whole child;  his heart, his moral understanding, his manners, his physical well-being, and of course his mind. We see the natural curiosity of children as a beautiful gift that should always be welcomed and supported, we have the goal of raising life-long learners with a passion for wisdom, knowledge, and truth. Why then would we let our own minds flounder? It can become easy to coast through our days without the intellectual stimulation of the workplace, or ignore our interests and curiosities. Reading is an easy way to keep our need to learn alive and continue to pursue what interests us. There are always new books to read, new things to learn, and it can happen at home in the midst of our mothering lives.

We can't abandon our intellect when we become mothers just like we can't abandon other important aspects of life. We don't want to let how we look and feel about ourselves through fashion slide, or give up working out and fitness, so too we have to view our intellect as an integral part of ourselves. Just like it can take a little time to regain our confidence with style, or getting back in the groove of working out after having babies, we can get back on track when it comes to exercising our intellect.

Although we need to look at our intellects as a vital part of ourselves that need attention, I also don't want us to look at reading books as another thing to add to our already too long to-do lists. Reading should give us refreshment and add to our lives, not feel like drudgery or another chore. In the next instalment of this series I'll talk about concrete ways to sneak reading into our busy days and I hope we'll be able to share what works best for us bookish mums!

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  1. David and I just signed up for a gym membership (with childcare!) and I think of it as my reading and shower alone membership. Lucia goes to the childcare. I get to sit on the bike and read for a while, then take a long, hot shower without being interrupted!

  2. Excellent post & I'm excited for the rest of this series, Christy! I really liked how you likened reading to exercising and fashion; it's so important to work that mind muscle! I was struck a few years ago by a particular part of the graduation speech made by David McCullough Jr. in which he encouraged the graduates to read out of principle. I definitely need that reminder because I'm not a naturally voracious reader, but I do believe it's important, and it's important to give that example to our kids.

  3. Great idea for a series! I often get caught up in a book and read too much! But I'm looking forward to your book recommendations. Judging from the photo at the top you have good taste. :)


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