Beyond the Bedtime Story

I have a confession. I love my kids. But some days getting on
the floor to play trucks seems impossible because all I want to do
is crash on the couch.

We want to bond with our children, develop their little brains,
make memories, build strong relationships, raise them to be
kind…the list of parenting goals goes on and on.

One of the best ways I’ve found to maximize time with my
children, make them feel loved, help them become smarter, develop
their vocabulary, raise them to be empathetic with high emotional
intelligence–all while I get to crash on the couch–is reading

Reading aloud to your child accomplishes all those goals. Not to
mention the perfect activity to turn to when all I want to do is
relax. In 30 minutes a day, or less, I can change my child’s life
by cuddling up with good books.

So what do you do when real life happens and it feels like you
aren’t getting enough chances to read? Set yourself up for
success by developing a family culture around reading. These few
preparations don’t take much time but offer big dividends.

1. Make books easily accessible.

If it’s 5 p.m. and you only have 15 minutes until dinner,
that’s not the time to run to the library or hunt for something
to read. Stock up on books you and your child both love, and plant
them in easy to grab places.

I keep a decorative crate of books at the end of my couch. When
it’s time to read, we can reach over and grab something I know
will be a winner. Being prepared beforehand makes all the
difference between reading a lot and none at all. (Bonus: Keeping
books at your little one’s eye level means he or she is more
likely to grab a book and flip through it on her own. This is great
for the child and might buy you a few more minutes of calm.)

2. Choose books you both actually love to

Of course you are willing to read and reread a book that makes
you want to poke your eyes out simply because you love your child.
But seriously, save yourself some pain and find books that make you
laugh, or
books you loved as a child
. Hunt down well-written, inspiring
children’s books that stick with you.

Work with the wiggles

Kids need to move, so work with the wiggles instead of fighting
them. Keep little hands busy while you read aloud. With their minds
on the story, their hands can be coloring or building with LEGOs,
or even delving into a sensory bin. They need to move sometimes and
that’s okay. Sure, reading time is a great time for cuddles and
proximity, but understand it doesn’t have to be picture-perfect
Norman Rockwell to count!

Talk about the story as you go
, but don’t
make kids feel as though you are quizzing them. Keep it fun.
Don’t pressure yourself to ask complicated questions about the
story. Open ended questions like “What do you think is going to
happen next?” or  “What would you be feeling right now if this
were you?” are great conversation starters and can pertain to any

5. Create as many spaces to read as you have
screens in your home—phones included. Make comfy reading nooks,
get kids to make a reading fort out of blankets, put baskets of
books near a rocking chair, whatever makes reading comfy and
appealing. It’s a given that you don’t want to compete with the
hypnotic power of screens. So make sure you shut them down so you,
your child, and your book are the main event during reading

The biggest thing about reading aloud is the powerful bonds you
are building with your child. As you sit shoulder to shoulder, you
are sharing the same adventure. Your child feels closer to you as
you share inside jokes and consider the same characters friends.
Get in the habit of sitting down as a family to talk about ideas
through books. Stockpiling this kind of family bond through books,
sets the stage for a lifetime of strong relationships.

QUESTION: Is reading a priority in your

CHALLENGE: Find ways to create time and space
that encourages reading, whether aloud or individually. Take a trip
to the library to find some new books to share.

This post is reprinted with permission from The Traveling Parent. To
read the original post, please click
. If you would like book recommendations, consider visiting
website and checking out their
book collections

Edited for Power of Moms by Nollie Haws.
Photo by Annie
 on Unsplash

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Bedtime Story
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