105 Ways to Give a Book

Reading Is Boring (Sometimes)

Sometimes reading to your kids is boring. There, I said it. We like the idea of the day ending with all of the annoyances forgotten as we cuddle on the sofa with our precious children, sharing our favorite books as they listen with adoring expressions on their well-scrubbed faces. But I know the reality is just as often pushing the laundry aside to make room for you and two kids who are still arguing over who got the biggest slice of cake — which apparently one child rubbed in her hair — while handing you the one picture book you can’t stand as the cat vomits a hairball at your feet.

Charming, huh?

There are many motherly myths that make us feel like we’re Doing It Wrong. And the ones that produce the most guilt are the ones that tell us how we should feel. Maybe you’ve heard how you bond with your baby at birth? It’s true that you might surrender to a warm rush of instant love and pure joy. Or you might be like me at my first child’s birth, wondering what you are going to do with squalling mini-person now. (Love came later.)

Certainly nursing your child is a magical experience, connecting you to the spirit of womanhood through all time. That is, assuming that you figure out the latching-on thing and you don’t mind leaking at inopportune moments and you don’t get infections or chafing. And even then you spend this most beautiful experience watching Oprah, or get so blasé that you open the door to the UPS man because you are NOT going to miss out on your Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD’s just because Little Miss Sucks-a-Lot won’t FINISH UP ALREADY!

And while I was moved by how much my girls looked like angels when they slept, it was generally not a respect for all that was holy that caused me to thank God. It was more likely relief that I wasn’t going to miss yet another episode of Survivor.

So — reading to your kids. It can be a wonderful experience, a chance to slow down in the busy day and share something together. I dare say that often you will find it a nice thing to do. My point isn’t to tell you that reading to your kids is boring, but instead to give you permission to sometimes feel like reading to your kids is boring. Because when we as mothers set ourselves up to a certain expectation to how something Should Be, we can fail to work with How It Is.

Think of reading to your child less as a bonding experience and more like dinner. It could be prime rib or Hamburger Helper, but either way it’s important to eat. At reading time, the stars may align to make it a cozy tradition, or the day’s drudgery may make it another chore. And that’s okay.

While my goal was simply to validate less-than-blissful feelings about reading time, it would be cruel to leave without a little advice on banishing the boredom. Think about varying the routine in terms of the five Ws — Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

Who — If you can switch off on the reading with Dad or an older sister, go for it. You can even have a reading time where Junior reads to the dog as you let your mind turn to thoughts of George Clooney. Ah, Clooney.

What — Just because your child wants to read the same book again doesn’t mean that you have to do so. On days when you are more patient, you’ll be happy to chug through Little Sparkly Fairy Princess again. But reserve the right to say, “Not today, honey.” Look for good book recommendations or ask at the library to add some fresh books to your mix. You’ll be happier for it, I promise.

Where — If you always read by your child’s bedside or on the couch, take it outside. Or stop at the library or bookstore and read there. Change your surroundings just because you can.

When — I am a personal fan of bedtime reading because in my unorganized world, it was hard to forget to do it. The pajamas tended to tip me off. But if you’ve always reached your limit at the end of the day, make reading time in the morning or after lunch or before nap or whenever works for you. Here’s a thought: You can even change it according to what works that day, week, month or year.

Why — Well, this whole post has been about the why. You can read to your child because it is a beautiful way to connect while instilling a valuable skill. But on days when you’re not feeling it, you can still read to your child because it’s just a good thing to do. I’m sure that all the “perfect moms” would agree.

Check out more on today’s Share a Story — Shape a Future topic, Reading for the Next Generation, with Jen Robinson.

20 comments:

Carrie said...

HA! This post was AWESOME!

And although I do like looking at my children sleep - it's usually just a quick peek and then I'm off and running to enjoy my free and quiet time (which is always very much anticipated!)

Lee Wind said...

MotherReader,
I really loved this post- and you're so right on. Thanks for the laughs, the wisdom, and the permission you give us all to be Real!
Namaste and a Hug,
Lee

3T said...

The phrase "Little Miss Sucks-a-Lot" made me choke on my drink. Then I sent a link to your post to everyone I know. Fantastic post!

Melissa Taylor said...

Love it!

I read at meals - because they are sitting down, hungry and need to eat. Perfect listeners. :)

Dawn Riccardi Morris said...

I love how you pulled so many aspects of parenting into this one post! Using the 5 W's was a fantastic idea, and very effective. Thank you so much for such an insightful post!

Terry Doherty said...

oohh... tipping close to the breast v. bottle but saved by the Sparkly Fairy Princess.

Thanks for reminding us our name isn't Harriet Nelson, Daddy Doesn't Know Best, and we aren't raising robots.

This is an AWESOME post.

grannie elbow said...

As the mentioned "perfect mom" I loved this post! (My children aren't here to testify against me. Right?) Being a perfect mom is being the mom your child has the best way you know how for as long as you can and then faking it! Your post makes it easier! Thanks.

EM said...

Oh, Pam, I could kiss you on the mouth. YES. THIS. THIS EXACTLY.

3T said...

Wow, you struck a chord - I posted a link on my Facebook page, and mommies all over are sending you their thanks!

Jen Robinson said...

I'm so glad that I asked you to participate in Share a Story, Pam. Because, as the other commenters have said, this post rocks! I strongly suspect that I'll be turning back to it for reassurance in just a few short months... Thanks!

Jenny said...

I love the analogy to dinner. That is one I will turn to on the nights when I feel too wiped out to do anything at bedtime.

This is a fabulous post.

Melissa said...

Pam: you rock. And you're right. We're not perfect, but reading to your kid is something that we can all do, somewhat perfectly. :-D (Dad reads in our house.)

Bill said...

I don't know if TeenReader's going to be so keen at being referred to as Little Miss Sucks-a-Lot...

Kelly Fineman said...

Funny, informative and real. You rock, Pam.

Kinna said...

MotherReader:
Wonderful and on point! My three year old tires me out with the reading request. On one hand it is great to see their imagination and intellect come alive through reading. But on the other the boredom, impatience, repetitions. Thanks for the post. Love your blog. Just post a review of The Story of Ferdinand on my blogi

Mary Ann Scheuer said...

What fun! and SO true! I can still remember reading "Silly Sally" with my eyes closed - we've all read books so many times that we have them memorized. But, yes, there is always Mommy's Choice. After all, we set the rules. Thanks for a fun reality check and reminder that life is not always like the Brady Bunch, full of happy smiles.

Tif said...

Brilliant post!! I love your honesty and wit! Thank you!!

unpedacitodemadre said...

Ha! I loved it! My daughter is still young enough and she doesn't realize when I skip entire paragraphs (is it bedtime yet???), but I will be in so much trouble when she does!

caribookscoops said...

Loved this post and how you talked about motherhood and some of the fun memories with the not so fun memories. Reading is boring (sometimes). I have to admit I have more than once hidden my toddler's very worn copy of Dr. Seuss;s ABC because I couldn't handle reading it for the 12th time in one day.

Kelly said...

LOL...Little Miss Sucks-a-Lot!

You crack me up.

Thank you for reminding us that it's okay to feel what we feel as mamas. :)