Finding Time for Pleasure Reading as a New Mom

Being someone’s mom is hard. They need you. A lot.

My husband and I prayed for years that having a family would be a part of our future. But what I didn’t realize is how much would change. I mean, if you asked me, I would have told you everything would be different, but it was in that vague-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-talking-about kind of way.

I still teach English at the college level, but I’m going on my third semester teaching online if you count my summer school class. I really, really miss the classroom and the relationships I build with my students within those four white walls under that harsh lighting. Even still, the relationship I am building with my son is like nothing I have ever known.

My field is English, so naturally, there is a never-ending to-be-read list that I try to put a dent in everyday. I used to read for 10-12 hours a day. Over the last eight months, I’ve had to grieve for my old reading life. Now this may sound strange to some of you, but it’s really eye opening for me.

I suspect other moms feel something similar when they decide to stay home with their kids instead of working, or even working at home instead of going to the office. Just because that is the best decision for their family doesn’t mean it’s easy.

God calls us to different jobs at different times in our lives. He also commands us to be joyful, not just content, in our circumstances. It’s only natural that we would feel sad about losing the joy we had in our former circumstances, even if we are completely in love with being someone’s mom.

So with all this change, I find myself completely overcommitted, because once again, I didn’t know how much time I wouldn’t have. And now I read about half as much as I used to, maybe even less, and I actually think that is pretty good, all things considered. And please keep in mind, pleasure reading and professional reading are synonymous in my eyes. No matter how you look at it, reading is part of my job.

I want to shed light on the few ways I have found work best to fit in reading a few pages at a time as a new mom, but this is not to suggest I have it all figured out. You might be able to apply some of these tips to whatever hobby you miss and makes you-you.

Are you burning the midnight oil to fit in professional obligations or pleasure reading? It's not easy, but these tips will help you find time to read amidst the constant chaos of being a new mom.


Read while nursing.

I nurse my son to sleep. I only pull out my phone (for Kindle) or my actual Kindle after his eyes are closed and he’s well on his way. This is partly for the bonding, but more practically, it’s because if he looks up at me and sees the bright reflection of a screen in my iris, he stops eating and will immediately look for the screen. Babies are clever.

I can usually read a chapter of whatever book I have going while he falls asleep. It’s only about 15 minutes before he’s in his deep-I-won’t-wake-up-when-she-puts-me-in-my-crib kind of sleep. This reading time adds up.

Read during naps.

I pooled my Facebook friends for tips on how to work from home with a newborn and all of them told me to figure out how to work while my little one naps. A few months back, this wasn’t an option, because if I left him (even after the 15 minutes-deep sleep thing), he’d wake up and cry. He needed held or a warm body all the time.

A person can only function for so long at that level, so we finally sleep-trained him. Instead of using his naps to do housework or work for my online course, I use them to read. So that means I get 2-3 hours of concentrated reading a day. I am really grateful for this. It’s part of what keeps me fed intellectually, emotionally, and most important, spiritually.

Read to your child.

About a decade ago, I remember learning about how my favorite preacher, Art Azurdia, used to sing hymns on the treadmill to build up his speaking stamina. He is one of the most incredible orators I have ever heard. And I don’t sing, but I did start reading aloud on the treadmill as a result. Reading aloud is something I have been doing for a long time, and as a teacher and someone who regularly speaks and reads passages of literature or essays in front of people, it’s a great skill to have. In addition, it helps you build up your speaking stamina.

I now read aloud to my son. Not only do I read children’s books to him, but I regularly read him what I’m reading. Over the last eight months, he’s heard significant portions of Paradise Lost, Fight Club, House of Leaves, and whatever article I am reading at the moment. When he was younger, he loved just listening to the sound of my voice. Now he crawls all around and tries to talk louder than me, but it’s still pretty effective.

Read while driving.

I am a huge advocate of audiobooks. We live 45 minutes from his pediatrician and 45 minutes from Trader Joe’s. We are usually 15-30 minutes from play dates. This is how I get in a chapter or two at a time. I especially like listening to non-fiction books on audio. And sometimes I will play them on the speakers for my son to hear too, but more often, I will have my headphones on because he’s asleep.

Read while working out.

Once again, audiobooks are how I manage this. If we go for a run, I like to listen to my current book. I won’t be talking to him anyway because I’d be breathing too hard. I can get in a chapter or two and I usually tell him all about it when we stop and stretch.

In a few more months, I’ll probably start going back to the gym. Even before having a child, I would always read on my Kindle while working out on the elliptical, the bike, the treadmill, and even while I do weight machines. Now that we have a little one, it will be that much more important that I kill two birds with one stone.

Read before sleep.

I will occasionally read at night, but I usually use the time after my little one is asleep to cook, talk to my husband, work on my online classes, and write for my blog. If all of that is taken care of, then picking up my book for 30 minutes to an hour is a treat before I fall asleep. I’m so thankful for his sleep schedule now. Before we sleep trained him at six months, he would wake up every 45 minutes, and I did whatever I could to sleep for 15 minutes between these wake ups. I was barely a functioning person, let alone delighting in books the way I can now.

Perhaps a lot of this is common sense.

If you are a new mom, it might help you to know it takes time to figure it out and find what works for you. Have faith!

If you are a veteran mom with more than one child, I have no idea if this would help because I am not in that season just yet. Stay tuned!

If you are a husband, be gracious with your wife as she figures out how to reconcile where God called her in her former life with where He’s called her now. It’s not easy!

So tell me, what am I missing? How do you sneak in a few pages here and there? I’ll take any tips I can get!


10 thoughts on “Finding Time for Pleasure Reading as a New Mom”

  1. It’s amazing you are able to identify your passion and what makes you-you as that is so many times forgotten with the welcoming of a little one. Just remember (as I’m sure you already know) each stage of childhood brings different sorts of challenges. Routine is important, but there will still be those dreadful days when you lose yourself in the midst of caring for someone else. That is ok. God is using these times as well to shape you and mold you spiritually. The important point to remember in the chaos is to trust in Him.

    I really appreciated this blog as it reminded me how important it is to treasure even the little moments of time to myself. ❤️

  2. Hi, I’ve had 5 babies in 8 years and the reading-while-nursing tip is huge! You can get through a surprising amount of books that way. But the biggest thing for me was realizing how often I pick up my phone, and getting in the habit of reaching for a book instead ie. instead of checking my email while I’m watching something on the stove, I read a couple of pages. Now that I have several kids in school and extracurricular activities, we also spend a lot of time sitting in parking lots waiting for someone or other to do something or get something or what-have-you, so I keep a book on the passenger seat and read a few pages whenever we’re waiting. I have also started just sitting down in the midst of whatever we’re doing and reading. My kids interrupt me constantly, but I just tell them I’m taking some time to read and get back to it. I used to feel kind of funny about doing this but now I look at it as a way of showing that 1) I’m still my own person with my own interests and 2) books are important and reading is a valuable activity that needs to be prioritized. So it’s my way of being a role model in that respect.

  3. This is so wonderful. These tips will definitely help me down the road. It’s funny you mention feeling a little funny- I do the same thing, but it’s at even sillier times. For example, I wonder if I should watch him sleep instead of reading because I want to make sure I m treasuring these precious moments. There is a balance, but it’s important for us to model what we claim is valuable. Thank you for your comment! It gives me some hope 🙂

  4. I so appreciate this reminder, Amy. The chaos is all too familiar and I suspect this will only increase as my son gets older. I’m thankful for this mighty little blessing, and books or no books, he’s definitely helping me learn about a part of me I had no idea was there. Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. I needed to read this today. I’m far from a “veteran mom” but have two boys who are 6 and 7. Just today, I was reminiscing about all the reading I used to do when my oldest was an infant. This year has seemed especially busy, and now that we’re past mid-year, I’m frustrated that I’ve completed fewer books thus far than any year since becoming a parent. Even though I’m at a different stage of parenting, your tips inspired me. I’ve been thinking all day about how I can get more reading in between now and the end of 2015.

    Since my kids have gotten older, reading aloud has been the tip I’ve been best able to carry over from infancy. I’ve discovered new books that my children have selected, which has broadened me, and it’s been fun to be reacquainted with favorites from childhood. Tonight, we started Ribsy by Beverly Cleary. I also read to them during meals — not every meal, but when the silliness gets to my husband and me, that’s our go-to nip-it tip. They stop wiggling and go into a trance; it’s amazing.

    I think we have to make time for the things we value. It’s good for us and our children.

    I look forward to reading more of your delightful blog!

    ~ Viv

  6. Oh, man. Beverly Cleary was my favorite author at their age. How exciting. I’m so thankful for your comment. It’s neat to know I can inspire you, even though you are a few years ahead in the game of life. And more than that, it’s nice to know I am not alone in trying so hard to find time for reading amidst motherhood. Are you on Goodreads? If so, I’d love to connect there.

  7. I believe we will always make time for what is important to us. You have made taking care of your son and the passions vital to your survival and sanity and I am so proud of you. I am proud of your journey to be okay with the changes that were forced on you when your son arrived. It’s not easy to have all that personal time filled up with caring for another human. Even your book list changed drastically to topics I am sure you had never dreamed of reading. You have accepted this new version of yourself without guilt about what you used to do, but pride in this new role of motherhood… Keep up the good work Jess!

  8. Thanks, Bethany. You definitely blazed the trail for me! I’m just putting it all into practice. And you are absolutely right about my book list changing; I never would have imagined I would read so many books about getting a baby to sleep. Ha!

  9. These are all great tips and I think I’ve done every single one of them except read out loud from whatever I’m reading. Mine, at 2 and 4, just don’t seem very interested. They usually interrupt me about 90 seconds in ask for something else.

    But I absolutely could not commute without a book! And yes, once their lights are out, unless we have something going on, I will be in bed with my book. They will frequently say, as we proceed upstairs, “Don’t forget your book, mama!”

    As for reading while they eat and sleep, I have two totally contrasting, crazy memories. The first is reading the second and third Hunger Games books while my oldest nursed and napped the first couple weeks of her life. Not a great choice! The second is sitting in the dark middle of the night with my baby, rocking and alternately looking out at my neighbors’ Christmas lights and reading Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. I cherish that memory. 😀

  10. Hi Jessica, I do agree with you that Reading is very important in life…it not only increase your thought process system but help you to explore your horizon. I would also like to suggest you about Coursera which is online portal where you can learn about various subjects depending upon your interest and various online certifications available for world’s renowned Universities..!!

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