Finding Time to Read as a Homemaker

We took an impromptu beach trip over the first part of this week, thus the delay for my next post. Aaron received some extra time off work this week, so we are enjoying some rest as a family!

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Every month that I post my reading list, I get the question: how do you find time to read so many books? Today, I’d like to share some of my ideas for incorporating reading into your lifestyle. Without reading, I would never be able to learn new things about natural, simple, and creative homemaking, nor would I be inspired to press on in my role through the struggles and weariness of everyday life. It is my source of inspiration on a daily basis! Reading the Word of God is my first priority as it enables me to find my daily strength in the One who is able. Beyond daily striving to abide in His Word, I aim to read another book to help stimulate my mind and strengthen me in my role.

I strongly encourage each women to cultivate the habit of becoming a reader. Make it your hobby! Each year I strive to read a godly title addressing all of my roles – womanhood, motherhood, wife, and missional homemaking. These four books – Womanly Dominion, Mission of Motherhood, Sacred Influence, and Practical Hospitality have been my top yearly reads and are essential for inspiring me further up and further in while pursuing daily faithfulness to the Lord. Beyond these titles I love selecting a few biographies to read to provide godly examples to model my life after. I like to read titles on natural living, creative homemaking, and Christian inspirational titles. As much as I would love to read more history and modern titles, I have to prioritize my limited reading time to those that will really build me up in this season of life.

Being a wife and mother who reads is essential for passing on that love for learning and reading to your children. They learn by example. What you love, they will likely love.

If you want to grow in your role as wife, mother, homemaker and follower of Jesus – please don’t neglect the art of reading!

1. Make a reading goal and seek accountability

Every year I make a reading goal. For me, I aim for 25 titles completed by the years end. I post it here on my blog and begin marking them off as I complete them. I add to the list throughout the year as I hear recommendations, but I often scratch out other titles if I loose interest. Make your list and seek a friend, spouse, or relative to help keep you accountable.

2. Set a weekly family reading night

Having Tuesday night reading night has been a challenge to maintain but it certainly has been our goal to have one night a week to read together or individually as a family. This encourages reading as a family exercise from which we can all find enjoyment.

3. Carry a book with you

Carry a book with you is a valuable way to make use of time while you are in the restroom, waiting for an appointment, waiting for the kids from piano lessons or sports, etc. Having a portable reading device is also very helpful in this way (Kindle for iPhone or iPod touch, or iBooks are great new additions to the portable world). I can read from my phone making it easy never to forget a book and easy to pack.

4. Read before bed to wind yourself down

I love to take 30 minutes before bed to just read to my heart’s content. This helps wind me down from the busyness of the day, or help relieve my mind from stress. Don’t read anything too stimulating at this time, as it could keep you up. This is my favorite and most productive reading time of the day because there are no distractions and the house is peaceful and quiet.

5. Don’t be afraid to put a book down

The key is not to get bogged down. If a book is not really interesting to me, I glean what I can and then move on. Even John Piper, one of my favorite theologians, explains that he rarely reads a book from cover to cover. He picks out the meat and leaves the rest behind. In this manner you can get a lot of reading it.

6. Get into the habit – read a page a day!

One of the key ways to start reading more is to just start with one basic goal – read a page a day! You will often find that you cannot stop after one page, but making the daily habit will far surpass your expectations. I often take a few moments after I lay the kids down for a nap to read a book and take a short rest myself. Yes, there may be many other tasks calling my name (clean the dishes, or organize something), but I deliberately stop and take a short rest to rejuvenate myself for the tasks ahead when my children rise up and hubby comes home.

7. Guard your internet usage and other distractions

Many people don’t have time for reading because they are using their free time for the internet or television. The average American watches over 4.5 hours per day – no wonder we don’t read! One of the reasons we don’t have a television is for this reason – too distracting for me. I still have to guard my computer time by setting a timer or using parental controls as a safeguard, so I have more time for more productive pursuits.

8. Read while you nurse – multi-task!

Reading while I nursed my littles ones has been the perfect time to read a book.

9. Take advantage of audio books

Subscribe to Audible or borrow audio books from the library to enjoy while you travel, houseclean, or prepare meals. I love to use these times to listen to my favorite podcasts - Revive Our Hearts or Homemakers by Choice – but it is another opportunity to listen and glean from books.

You always find time for that which you prioritize! Make reading a priority for your day and you will always be blessed with fresh inspiration for your calling!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

45 Responses to Finding Time to Read as a Homemaker

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  2. Emily September 2, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    Lindsay,

    I am so glad you are a reader, its what makes you the fabulous gal that you are, and I love how you read what you need in this season of life, it does take priority and sacrifice to do that, which inspires me. I enjoy reading, but I love sewing so much more, that this really does motivate me to allow reading to be a top priority. Especially in this needed season of motherhood. I LOVE your idea for reading together on a night of the week. That is such a sensational idea. We’ve got family home evening on Monday, and Friday Fun-day, but those entail studying a topic of the gospel, (Monday) and usually a movie, on Friday. Why not get a bunch of blankets spread out and enjoy a read-a-loud, or just everyone burrowing in their own book of choice. :) :) :) Fun fun fun! I love the weekly tradition idea too. I have a book in my purse, To Kill a Mockingbird, but its been there two years and only 1/4 done! I need to do the accountability list! :) I enjoy quality books, but it isn’t priority enough, so thank you for inspiring me to make reading my Passion!!! :)

  3. lynn September 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    What great ideas for getting your reading done. And thank you for posting your lists of books. I love to read homemaking books, too, and many you’ve listed are already favorites. And some are new to me — maybe some NEW favorites :)

  4. Fruitfulvine2 September 2, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    Reading has always been my passion ever since I was a little, little girl. These days with the amount of information available through the internet I am one happy reader. Besides reading stuff on the internet I usually have about 5 or 6 books going on different topics. I read as I go through the day – on the toilet, just before I rest, just before bed, waiting for my hubby after church in the car after I’ve done my own meeting and greetings, waiting in line. I could go on and on but the basic of it is that because it’s my passion I snatch time for it whenever and wherever.

  5. Amanda August 30, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    I have been trying to finish a book for 3 months now and have a long list of books that I feel like I will never get to. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Jen August 30, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Question: where do you purchase/borrow your books? Do you find them mostly on amazon.com, buy used, borrow, etc?
    Thanks :)

    • Lindsay August 31, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

      I actually get most of my books through the inter-library loan system at my local library. I also usually request books for Christmas and birthdays. Amazon would be the top pick price wise when I actually purchase a book.

  7. Beth at God's Everyday Blessings August 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    Lindsay: Thanks for your great blog! I’ve been a lurker on here for months and love all your great recipes, tips, advice and inspiration!

    I’ve an avid reader too, but like so many things in my life, it’s comes and goes. I don’t sweat it. I know reading will always be there for me, even if I neglect it :) My recent fav thing to do is scout books at thrift shops, garage sales and my library’s sale rack. That way I have a stack of novels waiting for me when I’m ready.

    I can agree as well with you and some other posters re: nursing and reading. I’ve nursed two kids–read a lot with the first, but couldn’t quite swing it with the second (probably because my toddler was around), Now, nursing by 5 mo. old I don’t get a lot of reading done anymore. Mostly because he starts looking up at me with those big blue eyes and grinning and the book gets forgotten because I’m so smitten!

  8. Elisheva August 27, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    I love to read but sadly not quite as much as I used too. I have quite a few books sitting on my bookshelves that I have not even read yet. The only main book I am reading at the moment is His Word which goes without saying really :)

    The majority of my books are Christian/Jewish books. I do have some non Christian books (cookery books don’t count) but not very many.

    I love to read in the mornings and sometimes at night but I end up falling asleep before getting very far. Novels I can read through in a day to two days though, that’s when I read these :) .

    Anyways excellent post and thank you for your inspiration and thoughts :)

    Blessings and shalom
    Elisheva

  9. Katie Dickinson August 26, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Lindsay,

    Have you read Karen Ehman’s “Life that says Welcome?” I noticed it the other day and it appealed to me. I really like how she addresses opening one’s heart as a part of hospitality. I often end up as a cranky, tired hostess because all of my preparation goes into practical, not spiritual. I never even thought to spend time the day we have guests preparing my heart. Martha, martha, martha.

    Katie

  10. April August 26, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    I love your post, but have one caution. As a mother of 5, who is seeing her children grow so fast, I can say cherish it. Do not try to multitask while nursing, don’t try to read. Live in the moment, watch your baby, absorb every little detail because your baby will be finished with the nursing stage before you know it and that book will still be there. I am an avid reader, love learning and as a homeschooling mom there is always something to read. But a wonderful woman gave me that piece of advice when I had my 3rd baby, and it was invaluable. I have cherished our nursing time as our one on one time.

    • Lindsay August 26, 2010 at 8:58 am #

      I can definitely see your point, and value that, but there can certainly be a balance between the two. When you are nursing 6-8 times per day, choosing to read a book for 3-4 of those times will certainly not hurt the relationship. I never felt like our relationship was hindered in any way. In fact, I think it has just increased my children’s interest in books as they observed mommy reading. I would often read out loud to them while nursing as well, which helps expose them to good vocabulary and such. We had plenty of time for cooing, talking, and singing to my little ones. As they got older they would start reaching and grabbing for the book so I might have only got in 5 minutes of reading anyway, but every little bit helps make progress. I always use the last feeding as a time to pray and sing to them, which has been such a blessed time.

  11. Becky R August 26, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    Hello! I think we spend so much time watching tv and then wonder why we can’t do other stuff, so we have none (we have kept it and watch an occasional dvd.)
    Also I second the idea to bring a book with you. I leave one for me and the kids in the car. I get chapters read sitting in doctor’s offices, waiting for my kids activities to finish up, and such.

    My goal is to read a book a week.

    I love that you value reading so much too.

    I also really enjoy reading your blog.

  12. Angie August 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    Could you ask your husband to suggest some solid books for our husbands to read?

  13. Trish D August 25, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    Great ideas – I personally can’t read at night as I tend to stay up way too late (who needs to sleep when you’re sucking good stuff from a book?!) but have found that carrying a book in my purse has been a great habit – I often end up waiting for my kids or a friend somewhere, and can often read a page or two… plus it has the added benefit of helping me not grow impatient ;)

  14. Amber Cullum August 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this. I constantly want to read more, but I allow things to get in the way. I think I will make a list, as that should help me.

  15. rachel g August 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Great blog entry! I love to read, but somehow I let my love of reading blogs ;) and message forums overtake my reading time. Thanks for inspiring me to get back to my books. :)

  16. Jessica Lynette August 25, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    I love your gentle encouragement to the “simple” things.
    Pre-babies I read a lot but somehow with the birth of my first born I let everything else distract me and got away from really reading. I committed at the beginning of the year to read more and have enjoyed such quality books this year. It really makes such a difference to my entire life to be involved in good books.

    I saw you are going to be at the Relevant conference – I just won a ticket to it (!!) and look forward to meeting you there!

  17. Fruitful Harvest August 25, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    I love to read as well!

    I read every night and sip a cup of herbal tea and then read again once in bed.
    I read at 4:30 am after I pack hubbys lunch and send him off to work. (It helps me fall back asleep until 7:30 or 8.)
    I also just started a book on tape (11 hours of listening) I fell asleep during the first side of tape one!
    The story is good, I was just tired.

    I also love to look at ALL my cook books. I have over 100.
    I sit in my beautiful backyard watch the kiddos play and do my meal planing by flipping through my cook books!

    I also from time to time will read a novel to my littles (I have 6 kiddos but only 4 still love to be read to)
    They love to listen to a on going novel…..its a great bonding time for us.

    My 11 and 8 yrs old love for me to read them these kid detective books (short stories you have to figure out who done it) Jigsaw Jones I think they are called.

    Oh well I could ramble on and on…..Reading it awesome……it can take you anywhere!

    Peace and LOve,
    Georgiann

    PS I’m having a giveaway….come see!

  18. Shayna August 25, 2010 at 4:33 am #

    Great reminders! :)

  19. Joy Y. August 25, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    Okay….maybe I’m the only one who does this…I never asked… Saying that, I do love to read, yet with baby #5 on the way it gets a little harder. If I don’t have a larger chunk of time to read….I, well…I read when I go potty! I have a few “stolen” moments, hopefully by myself if my 2 yr. old doesn’t catch me. So, I have a really good book in there with a bookmark to find my place quickly, and I read for a couple minutes at a time. Sounds funny I guess, but if you added it up, I have spent many hours learning a lot in there…hee,hee. Multi-tasking at it’s very best, no?

  20. carmen @ life blessons August 25, 2010 at 2:57 am #

    I am always impressed at how much you’re able to read with little ones around! I really like your Tuesday Reading Night; that’s a great idea that I’ll have to stash for when we have kids :)

    I also make frequent use of audiobooks, especially when I’m doing chores around the house. I recently blogged about it and one of my favorite sources for downloading classic books legally for free!:
    http://lifeblessons.blogspot.com/2010/07/inviting-anne-shirley-over-for-dinner.html

    • Lindsay August 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      We started reading night before we had kids in order to get into the habit…its such a delight to cuddle up next to my hubby and read together. Most of the time we actually read in this manner after the kids go to bed anyway, as neither of them can read yet. It’s well worth starting now!

  21. Amy Jo McMorrow August 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    WOW! It seems that the Lord is telling me to put more time into reading… I have been reading “The Core” by Leigh Borgis and today I read her chapter on teaching your children to read. She talks about a lot of the same tips that you wrote about: read, read, read to your kids…be the example and you will create masters of reading…expands their vocabulary…and creates a life-long love of learning/reading. Good Stuff!
    Thanks!
    Amy Jo

  22. Autumn August 24, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    I’m finally reading ‘Practicing Hospitality’ based on your recommendation from a long time ago. I’m glad I’m reading it now and not back when you first wrote about it. I’m in a much better position to practice it (both logistically and spiritually) than I was back then.

    I love your tips, particularly about guarding our time on the internet. If I let it, the internet can be a big time-sink for me, which keeps me from reading books.

    BTW, have you read “Gospel-Powered Parenting”? It’s a *great* book!

    • Lindsay August 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

      Yes, I read Gospel-Powered Parenting about two months ago and absolutely loved it! Definitely one of my favorite titles on parenting.

  23. Melissa August 24, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    I’m an avid reader and have WAY too many books going at one time. I’ve been asked the same question and one thing I do is have a book always at my place at the table. I often eat lunch or breakfast at different times, and there’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting down with my great friend, the book. I think it’s easy for me to find the time because I love it so much. Everyone has something they spend more time on because they love it….the trick is just figuring out what that is, is it fruitful and is it replacing something else?

  24. Lauree August 24, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Always enjoy reading your posts! :) This has nothing to do with this post….I was wondering if you might have any tips on how to hide stretch marks? Like a cream…or if there is anything that really works…thanks so much!! :) God Bless!

    • Lindsay August 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

      Unfortunately, no. They are my battle scars! ;) I don’t believe they can be truly prevented or hidden. I am thankful my hubby doesn’t mind in the least.

      • Danielle August 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

        Maybe it’s genetics… but I used Cocoa butter cream from the time we were trying and AFTER giving birth, and I never got one stretch mark.

        Keeping your skin MOIST is key.

  25. Debra Worth August 24, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    I’m currently trying to find time to read “Getting More Done In Less Time” by Donna Otto. Ironic.

  26. Sarah August 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Love this post! Reading is a passion of mine as well! I started a book club with some friends to discuss some of the great books out there.

    My husband has a long commute to and from work and has started spending that time listening to audio books. I don’t think either of us can remember a time he read for fun besides the Bible…. But now thanks to Librivox.com (public domain books are free) and christianaudio.com (has one free book you can download each month) he is flying through tons of great books (without spening money) and now looks forward to his commute! He’s listening to the bible now with all those doing the bible in 90 days plan but will finish it much sooner!

  27. Holly August 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing your reading tips! :)

  28. Sara August 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Thank you for such a great post. I also read often, but should focus more on books to improve my relationship with God. We cut off the tv in January for the same reasons you described, and I have a problem with the internet absorbing my time. What parental controls do you use to help?

    • Lindsay August 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

      In the settings on your computer, you should be able to set up parental controls. You can designate a time frame that you can access your computer, and then it will shut down after your time frame is up. Works really well! My husband set them up on my computer so that I could only access the computer between 1-5pm and then only for a 2 hour period.

  29. Julie August 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    Love your blog and your encouragement. Great one today as well but worry about the suggestion to read while nursing. This should be an exception not a habit. The bonding that nursing promotes stems from the interaction between mother and child not just between child and breast – too much reading while nursing could interfere with this.

    • Sally August 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

      You sound like a very attentive mother. I also suspect you might have quick/efficient nursers! My second was like that and I read little with her. But I read a TON with my son and it helped me to be patient with the process. I also read so much of value to my later parenting of that same child and 3 others. You are still bonding by nursing even if you don’t always talk to or look at your baby. You won’t bond less if you talk to you other children, or your husband, or listen to music, or read toddler books to the older kids. I sit next to my husband while we both read. We are enjoying each other’s company, and we are bonding. When we hike, or drive, or work in the yard we are focused on certain tasks, and may or may not speak. We are still bonding through the time spent together. Much work on bonding points to skin-to-skin contact as a primary bonding mechanism, And nothing prevents you from caressing your baby while you read. You can even read grown up material to your baby and let him hear your voice and the way your language is constructed. Even if your focus is elsewhere, you are still giving of yourself and still bonding through intimate contact. Just my (obviously biased) perspective!

  30. Kelly August 24, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    I am listening to The Count of Monte Cristo while I paint our fence. While it may not be the most spiritually edifying book, it has been great to finally listen to a book I’ve always wanted to read while getting something productive done. :) Thanks!

  31. Melissa August 24, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I am an avid reader but fear I read too many entertainment Christian fiction books than I do spiritual growth/homemaking/marriage books. I’m trying to make it a goal to read one of each each week. Bedtime is my time to read. :)

  32. Corrie August 24, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    People often ask me the same thing – how do you have time to read? I think another important point is reading is a great stress reliever. When I am stressed out I love to pick up a fiction book and jump into someone else’s life. Or, perhaps read a non-fiction and learn about something completely unrelated to whatever is stressing me out.

    One big thing that most people don’t consider, though, is that reading can be done on the internet. Read the news sites, read blogs, read for information. All that is reading.

  33. Angela Palmer August 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    Hi Lindsay, thanks to God for your perfect timing! I need to read the rest of a book called “Godly Women” for my ladies bible study today, but was on here instead. I shall go and finish it now, before my children get up.

    Thanks for all the work you and the others put into this site. It really has become like nothing else I’ve found.

  34. Danielle August 24, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    A friend of mine recently had a FB update (paraphrased) of.. what if we spend as much time in the WORD (the Bible) as we do on FB (or blogs for those of you who blog) where would our spiritual life be? The same question you can substitute, tv, or internet. i know I felt convicted. And since I have upped my Bible studying time. I currently have two books i’m reading. “how to be angry and not blow it” by Lisa Bevere (what a way to admit you have a problem lol—hey I’m just being honest!) And God’s Armour Bearer by Terry Nance (I’m reading since recently I was appointed my pastor’s AB.

    This is soooo good!! I read at night, and first thing when I get up in the morning. (and I get up a good 2 hrs before the house)

    • Deborah August 25, 2010 at 9:42 am #

      I love reading spiritual easy reads and often have some kind of Chicken Soup for the Soul book on me. I think I have them all. I often find time for a short story.
      I really would get a lot more done including reading if I could give up tv. I know it is cluttering my mind. I would never read junk like the junk I watch on tv!

      • Danielle August 25, 2010 at 11:25 am #

        Me too Deborah, me too! It’s like we won’t read “trashy” novels, but we find nothing wrong w/certain shows—that are just as bad or worse than a novel!

        But… you know what? the closer we get to God.. the LESS we will desire to watch those shows. I know it’s been true for me!

      • Jennifer August 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

        Danielle and Deborah, I am so glad you are beginning to see how harmful “trashy” tv can be. I have never been a tv watcher and currently don’t own one. But I did use to read tons (literally 20-25 per month, before my baby obviously ;) ) of “popular” fiction, which was pulling me away from God just as bad as tv. I used to look down on those “tv watchers” until God showed me how hypocritical I was being! I’m still trying to recover and read good and edifying things!

        But here is my challenge to you: commit for the next 1-2 weeks (2 is more dramatic!) to not watch any tv, really not any! BUT replace that usual time, say your favorite show at 6-7pm with reading from your Bible or a good Christian book. Then, after the 2 weeks, turn back on your show and watch it with your eyes that are now more focused on Him. You will be HORRIFIED and DISGUSTED by much of what you see! It’s like taking off the rose tinted glasses. Today’s popular tv shows (and books!) do NOTHING to build us up, and LOTS to tear us down. God bless you as you move on this journey!