by Becky Mansfield
I just… don’t. Today I want to tell you my story about why it’s okay not to read at bedtime.
Yes, I have a confession. It’s one of those confessions that you fear will make other parents give you that side-eye glance and question your Mommyhood Card. Are you ready for it? I’m not a fan of reading at bedtime. There, I said it.
I know, I know, but how will my children be exposed to books? Don’t I know how important early literacy is to their developing brains and vocabulary? Aren’t I depriving them of their fundamental right to a bedtime story?!
Of course, I know all of that and there’s no way I would deprive my children of books. I just don’t read to them at the end of the day, because I’m not at my best. To be honest, I’m tired and sometimes a little cranky by the time bedtime rolls around. I don’t want my children to end the day on a sour note because I’ve run out of patience. If you’re not a fan of reading at bedtime, don’t worry!
HERE ARE SOME WAYS YOU CAN FIT READING INTO THE DAY WHEN YOU’RE IN A BETTER FRAME OF MIND.
Breakfast and a Book
Since I get up earlier than everyone else, by the time the kids get up I have had my coffee and am ready to face the day. We like to ease into our daily routine, so as they’re sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast, I break out the book we’re reading aloud. The kids are less tired and are more engaged. When they’re done eating, we’re usually deep into a conversation about the characters or storyline. It’s a great, gentle way to start the day.
One-on-One Reading Time
It’s hard to sit and wait for a sibling to get done with dance class or gymnastics, so I use that time to read with the non-participating child. If it’s too noisy inside or we’d be distracting others, we’ll take our book outside and sit in the car or on the lawn while we wait. They get to pick the book we read, so there’s instant engagement and usually a lot of giggles. It’s become a time we cherish instead of an hour we dread.
Audio Books by Mom
I’m not exactly sure how the tradition started, but one my children’s favorite book-related activities is to listen to books on our mobile tablet that I have read aloud. I use the audio recorder on the device to read short picture books that they can follow along in while the recording plays. We have quite a collection of book recordings now and they constantly replay their favorites. I usually record a new one each weekend, so that they have something to look forward to on Monday morning.
Let Dad Read
Just because I’m not at my best in the evenings doesn’t mean that my husband isn’t. It’s not unusual for him to read to the kids at bedtime before we tuck them in. As moms, we often think we have to do it all, but when we share the responsibilities and pleasures of parenting, we’re better for it.
Parenting is hard and if you’re struggling with being patient enough at bedtime to read a story, don’t feel bad. As long as your children are being exposed to books at other times, they’re going to be just fine. A successful childhood is not contingent upon bedtime stories. Find more parenting advice like this on our Facebook page!