Like most people, I loved reading when I was younger. But fell out of the habit once nursing school, night shifts, and newborn life took over. Over the last two years I really stepped back into reading and made a serious effort to recreate a habit that I had loved so much. I decided to put down my phone and picked up books instead. In 2021 I pushed myself to read 10 books, which may not sound like a lot but it was more than I had read in many years. It felt so good to remember what it felt like to get lost in other worlds, having to stay up late to find out how a book ends! Those 10 books completely re-energized me to prioritize reading into a sustainable habit again. Last year I pushed myself to double my reading goal ended up finishing the year reading 21 books! Today I thought I’d share some tips for fitting more reading into your life, even if you’re like me and live a busy toddler mom life.
Stop reading books you don’t enjoy – if you don’t like a book. put.it.down. don’t force yourself to read books you don’t enjoy! life is too short. I used to force myself to keep reading out of principle, but the reality is you’ll actually read slower and less books if you’re forcing yourself to trudge through stuff you don’t like.
Utilize apps to get free e books. I use a kindle and before I would go back and forth on if i wanted to spend the money on a kindle book, especially as I was getting back into reading and honestly didn’t know what books I enjoyed anymore… Then I found the libby app. Which basically lets you rent ebooks from library. The app is completely free all you need is a library card number, which you can easily get online! This set me free from the mental gymnastics I was doing about actually spending money on e books and allowed me to download books without the pressure of having to feel like it was “worth the money”. This is how I read 99% of my books is through the libby app! You’re able to rent a book for 21 days but pro tip if it’s taking you longer DON’T close out of the book on your kindle. If you leave it up you can keep reading beyond 21 days.
Know you’ll be interrupted – Life with two littles means interruptions, but I still read around them. While they’re playing outside or in their rooms, or when they’re watching a show. I’ll be reading. But I know I’ll get interrupted. When we’re outside I’ll play with them and then tell them “mommys gonna read her book know while you guys play”, and of course there are still interruptions but the more I do it the more they become used to it. My almost 5 year old asked me the other day all about my book, we talked about how words make sentences and how books tell stories and it was such a great conversation for my guy who is on the cusp of reading himself. The key for reading around your kids is don’t wait for *perfect* conditions. Doing this has helped me read so.much.more! Plus the example this sets is so powerful.
Keep a running to-read list: I use the notes app on my phone and have a note dedicated to books I want to read. Whenever I’m at work and someone suggest a book or I’m on IG and someone talks about a book they love I add it to my list. So when I finish one I always have something else on my list to read. I also keep books on hold on the libby app!
Take a book to bed: A few years ago I started charging my phone across the room from my bed. Mostly so I would ensure I would actually get up when my alarm was going off. But instead of taking my phone to bed scrolling until I was falling asleep I now go to bed with my kindle. Some nights I only manage to read a few pages before my eyes close. Other nights I will literally read for HOURS. This has drastically changed how much I read. And is such a better way to fall asleep. We spend a lot of time looking at our phones, being pulled by dings and pings. But reading really forces you to focus which will ultimately lead to better sleep!
The week after Christmas and before the New Year is inherently made for reflection. It’s hard not to look back at the last 12 months, no matter what they held for you, without some kind of pause. Most of our years are filled with a mixture of ups and downs. Last year I shared my tradition of making a list for each year (20 for 2020, 21 for 2021, etc.) I wrote about the origin of this idea and what kinds of things fill this list in a post here . But the idea is that broad, overarching resolutions are ineffective and typically lose their shine rapidly. Filling a list with a mixture of small tasks, fun things, and bigger goals and checking in on the list through out the year is a great alternative to resolutions! Admittedly coming up with over 20 items can feel a little daunting so you could easily have the same effect with a list of 10 or 15 things. Below I’m sharing my 2022 list & some other milestones that happened!
22 in 2022
Get family photos taken – Done! And SO happy with how they turned out!
Read 12 books – To my own surprise, I ended up reading 20 books this year!!
Trip to NYC – This did not happen – but we did go to DC and had a kidless weekend away in Sonoma
Build a neighborhood free little library – YES! Did this and it brought me so much joy!
Day dates with boys – I was not very consistent with this but did do some
Switch to clean makeup – Done!
Run a 5k – I actually laughed when I looked back at my list, I have no memory of wanting to do this!
Go to the dermatologist – eek this did not happen… BUT I did get all my dental work done this year & went to my routine cleaning & have no new cavities or issues!
Find a PCP – yes!
Do 3 Day Refresh – maybe in 2023
Get pictures off old macbook Done!! This was huge, pulling about 7,000 photos off my college computer!
Do a 30 minute meditation monthly – I didn’t do this monthly but I crossed a huge meditation milestone of meditating for 500 days! And I did complete two different meditation courses this year.
Take boys to Tilden / BADM 3x – We didn’t make it to either place once 😦
Plan and Plant a spring / summer garden – yes the summer of tomatoes!
Pay off mazda YES grown up stuff
Take Juno on weekly walks – We didn’t do as many adventures as I’d liked but she got way more exercise than last year so calling it a win!
Make an album of now – did not do this.
Paint master bath / add shelving – nope. still have paint samples taped up lol.
Take a social media Sabbath each week – YES! I did this most of the year and loved it!
Go to a National Park – Arches in UT, was a major highlight this year!
Try therapy – didn’t happen. thought about it a lot. lol.
Shiplap entry way – also no.
Despite half of my list being incomplete, 2022 was a year that has some amazing memories, lots of fun and some tremendous personal growth. I hit a huge meditation milestone of 500 days, something that seemed impossible when I started! I left my kids and went on a solo girls trip! I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone & taught two group exercise classes. I put down my phone and picked up books, reading 20 books this year. I learned to use a jigsaw & nail gun and built a little free library for our neighborhood. We spent more time with family & cousins, we hosted birthdays and I kept decorating themed cakes. I drastically purged and simplified our home and belongings, everything from clothes, kitchen gadgets, to digital clutter. Oh and I survived a road trip with two toddlers from California to Utah!
The last few months of 2022 have been a barrage of high fevers, cancelled plans, sick kiddos, trips to the pediatrician and urgent care; pushing me to my outer limits. But reflecting on the year reminds us that it is so rarely as simple as a “good year” or a “bad year”. There were thousands of amazing moments this year and endless things to be thankful for. The purpose of the yearly list isn’t to have every single item checked off. Instead it’s to bring intention, thoughtfulness and fun, into what you want your year to hold. So that December doesn’t roll around and you realize you floated through the year, reacting to what was thrown at you.
A vital part of growth is allowing ourselves space to reflect. Being able to look back on moments that brought you joy, made you proud, things you may have handled differently etc. If reflection doesn’t come naturally – sometimes reading some simple prompts can open the gates of inspiration! Below are some prompts to get your reflections started.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my 23 for 2023 list! I’d love to hear what goals you crushed in 2022, dreams you have for this year or if you make a list yourself I’d love to see it!!