There was a time in my life when I read all of the time. I would routinely finish a suspenseful paperback on a three hour flight. Reading in bed, the bathtub, and the car even though it gave me a headache. I needed to know every plot twist and I couldn’t wait to find out the ending.
Flash forward to having young kids. My love of reading took a backseat to almost everything. The only time I consistently read was when I was by myself in the doctor’s waiting room. I actually looked forward to doctor’s appointments so I could sneak in a couple of chapters. On more than one occasion, the front desk person apologized that the doctor was running late. I let them know that sitting there reading a book felt like a spa day and the doctor should take their time!
Those doctor’s office visits reminded me how much I missed reading but I couldn’t figure out a way to make it a part of my everyday life. It seemed like one more thing to do on my growing to do list. On the rare occasion that I read a book for pleasure, I felt guilty for not reading a parenting book instead. I loved the idea of reading parenting books but to be honest, most of them sat untouched on my bookshelf.
This Spring, I saw something online that surprised me. It said that small habits are underestimated and reading 20 pages per day is 30 books per year. In no universe did that make sense to me. How did 20 pages a day equal 30 books a year?
I convinced my family that we needed to try this. We decided to spend 20 minutes after dinner each night reading. Nobody could watch TV until our reading was done. We each read our separate books and stopped when the timer went off. Sometimes we read more than 20 pages and sometimes less but we were consistent about how much time we read.
This is amazing for so many reasons. First, my kids are reading and loving it. They actually remind me now that we need to do our reading. Plus they are seeing the example of their mom and dad reading almost every night. I try to alternate fiction and non-fiction. I have read 8 books in the last 4 months! We are also spending time as a family for a set period of time every night without a screen.
It is also proving that doing something small each day can have surprising results. This can be applied to so many other areas of our life. Most days, I can carve out 20 minutes. That could be 20 minutes to read or walk or have a meaningful conversation. Being intentional with small amounts of our time can change our life. I should know! I am no longer praying that the doctor is running late so I can read a few pages!