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If you’re a mom, you’ve been there.
You’ve felt that moment when you wanted to rip out our hair, get in your car and drive away, or completely give up. Some days, you wonder why you had children. Wouldn’t life be so much less complicated without them?
Inevitably, just minutes after those little kiddos drive you to the edge of your sanity, they offer a precious smile, a giant hug, and ask you to snuggle up and read a book together. And… you melt.
You Got Played
Have you been there? Did you feel played? Manipulated? Gamed? They know. But we always come back for more. Ha.
Few things are better than cuddling up with your kids to spend some quality time together. Maybe it’s for a movie or to talk about their day or to read their favorite book. No matter the subject matter, that time together always seems to make those tougher moments feel like distant memories (or at least memories we’re willing to ignore).
Reading Before Bed
One of my favorite ways to spend special time with my boys is just before bed with a few good books. When they were a bit younger, I used to consider reading a book to them before bed something I needed to do. It was a task on my to-do list because all good parenting resources celebrated the benefits. I sometimes skipped pages to check the item off my list faster. After all, they didn’t know the difference, right?
Over time, I changed my tune about the books. We sit together on the bed under T’s favorite red blanket, the boys snuggle up next me, and we read about planes and trains and colors. They often ask questions about the books while I’m reading, which sometimes drives me a little nuts when they’re asking a million questions per page. But then I remember that I’m not going to have this time for long (and the discussion about the book provides such great stimulation for their development).
T in his favorite sports t-shirt and J wearing the movie character shirt and socks that he asks to wear every… single… day, we read and re-read the handful of books that the boys can’t get enough of.
When I’m lucky, I sneak in a few of my favorite picture books from their collection. I tell them that, some nights, I get to choose what we read. At first, they were appalled at the change of pace. But I eventually convinced them of its merit.
All those nights of cuddling up with my boys (wearing and re-wearing their favorite shirts and socks) along with some good books and T’s cozy red fleece blanket means we give our washer a run for it’s money. We keep it plenty busy to ensure it earns it keep.
While some prefer scent-free detergents and fabric softeners, I’ve been on a fresh scent kick recently. Not that my laundry smelled dirty after I washed it (that’d be weird) but it didn’t have that amazing ‘clean laundry’ scent you all know so well. (If you don’t know, just walk down the laundry aisle at Sam’s Club or your local big box store. You’ll know what I mean right away.)
Recently, I picked up some Snuggle® Ultra Blue Sparkle fabric conditioner and blue iris bliss® Snuggle Scent Boosters® from Sam’s Club to make sure those favorite shirts and socks my boys wear day in and day out as well as our trusty red fleece blanket smell ‘laundry’ fresh. I’m no laundry expert, but don’t jam pack your washer or the Scent Boosters® won’t work. I got that laundry aisle smell I hoped for and it lasts for quite a while.
(P.S. If you are a laundry maven, you might like the Snuggle® Bear Den. After you sign up, you can be rewarded for sharing your opinions and completing various missions.)
While I love sharing a few minutes of time reading together before my boys go to bed at night, I also know how important reading is in general and love finding time to read with my boys during more than those precious few minutes before bed.
If you want to spend a few more minutes snuggling and sharing a book with your little ones, consider trying out these 10 Ways to Find 10 Minutes to Read to Your Kids
1. Bedtime ~ So this one is obvious, but it’s such an easy one and so helpful in calming kids down to transition to sleep, it’s worth including.
2. During Breakfast ~ We make it a priority to ensure our boys eat something before leaving for school. Some days that’s easier than others, but we always get a bit of healthy food into their stomachs. On mornings when you have ten minutes to sit together to eat your breakfast, pull out a book and read while you eat.
3. Waiting at the Doctor’s Office ~ It’s easy enough to carry a small book or two in your diaper bag or purse. Paperbacks are best for this option to limit the extra weight you’re lugging around. Appointments like doctor or dentist visits always result in at least a few minutes of waiting, so make the most of it.
4. Audio Books in the Car ~ We listened to audio books on our way to the airport last week when headed to see my parents. My boys, who normally chat up a storm in the car and ask a zillion questions, listened intently and asked for another story after each one was finished. It was great! (For the record, I appreciate all their questions and do my best to answer them. But sometimes, I just want a quiet car ride.)
5. Early Morning ~ Consider reading while the kids are just waking up. Our boys, especially T, are not morning people. T definitely takes his time waking up and getting out of bed. If you’ve got a little one that doesn’t pop right up, read them a story while they “warm up” and get ready to start the day. If you’re not a morning person (neither am I), consider these tips to Make Early Mornings Work for You.
6. Siblings’ Extracurricular Activities ~ You might spend quite a bit of time sitting at your children’s lessons and practices. Chances are, your other children are tagging along. While you probably want to watch the games, you end up sitting at practices without much to do but not enough time to head back home. (My parents definitely experienced that and I suspect we will too eventually). Bring a book or two and read with your other child(ren) on a hill next to the field or in the waiting area of the studio.
7. While Waiting in the Car ~ Maybe you’re waiting to pick up your spouse or another child. Maybe you’re waiting in the car while someone else runs into the grocery store or the post office. Wherever you are, pull out the book and read to the kids waiting with you.
8. Just Before Nap Time ~ Like before bed, but with a little sunlight peeking through the windows.
9. During Bath Time ~ Some kids love to play in the bath, and ours are no different. But it might be nice to mix things up and share a good story while they soak.
10. Read While Dinner Cooks ~ If you find a few minutes while waiting for water to boil or something to bake in the oven, bring your child into the kitchen and read for a few minutes. You could even just grab a seat on the floor and snuggle up together with your favorite blanket. Maybe you’ve got your own version of our little red fleece blanket. As an alternative to reading the book, you may even consider reading through the recipe with them. (I’m a big fan of bringing the Kids into the Kitchen.)
In addition to thinking just about those pockets of precious time you can enjoy a book together for a few minutes, consider starting some habits to encourage reading in general.
Keep a Stash of Books Nearby ~ This is probably a no-brainer, but you’re more likely to sneak in a few minutes of extra reading when the books are right on hand. Consider keeping one in your bag, maybe a few in the kitchen or near where the family spends most of their time. When those extra minutes (like while the water is boiling or during breakfast) pop up, you’re ready to go.
Make Reading a Reward ~ Most kids love quality time with their parents. Treat reading together like it’s an indulgence (and not a chore), and they might just believe it’s as special as you do. Then you can encourage them to do other positive things (like cleaning up their toys or finishing dinner) to earn extra reading time before bed or around nap time.
Set a Family Goal ~ Make a reward chart or progress chart to track how many books or how much time you spend reading together. When the chart or tracker is full, celebrate as a family with a special prize or event. Maybe you visit the library or buy a new book for your own family library. This also may encourage the child to seek out time for this as well, instead of you, as the parent, driving most of the reading time.
Hopefully you can pick out a few ideas from this list that will help you create a few extra minutes of quality time with your family. You can also find a host of other ideas for special family time, aside from reading together, from other moms who walk in our shoes.
If you try out any of these tips or ideas, I’d love to hear how they work for your family. Do you have any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments.