Staying Sane: Read


“We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.” – Henry Miller

I remember several years ago when Big Bro ALWAYS had problems going to sleep at night. He would either fight with us or play or talk or sing himself to sleep. That issue seemed to fix itself when he stopped taking afternoon naps and now, falls into bed exhausted. He often is snoring as Red is still awake. I remember my mother talking to him about it and saying that she sometimes reads books to help her relax to go to sleep. He replied back to her that “I guess I’m just going to have to sing until I am able to learn how to read.” I thought that response was so cute. And now we’re on the cusp of him having to be able to do this… he’s reading beginner books from school and is also busy learning how to write. I’m excited that we have books to rely on if he becomes difficult at bedtime. And maybe I’ll get him a booklight for his birthday in May.

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Well, now Red has been our “problem child” in terms of transitions and sleep. I’ve been writing about this for several days/weeks now, since it’s hard to ignore when you feel like you’re dealing with a newborn again – one who refuses to sleep at night and also wakes up in the middle of the night. It’s difficult trying to manage this while co-parenting since we likely have different approaches. She got used to holding a hand (which did not come from me, but was still something that I’ve had to deal with). Over time Red and I have started with a consoling “rock” to sleep and have migrated to a quick “rock” and then me watching her, and then leaving her to come back and check on her, to last night….. I suggested that she look through a book to help her relax. She decided on a “princess” book and she obliged my request. She lay in her bed, quiet and still, while holding and leafing through a book looking at pictures and likely re-telling the story to herself inside her head. She drifted off to sleep by herself. She is having a problem with nap time now and I again suggested a book. So sweet. She is flipping through the pages, relaxing her body, and is close to sleep. [Update: She is now snoring. Books by her side.]

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And I’m sure many if not all of us have instituted a nighttime ritual with our children of reading a short story or book before their bedtimes. It winds them down. It signals a break from their day. It is quiet and engaging and peaceful.

*****

So for working mothers: When is the last time YOU’VE actually read a book? I mean from beginning to end? And not an article about baby food or pediatrician advice or anything baby related, child related, or pregnancy related? Or even Blogs. I mean a good old fashioned hardcover, softcover, or maybe iPad or Kindle version of words into sentences into stories…..???!?!?!?!?!?!?!? I know that our time during the day is an issue. I recognize that. But for those that are not imbibing in the written word maybe there’s a way to make the time at the end of the day? Or maybe sneak in some time during a commute to work? Maybe the trick is to find books with short chapters, or short sub-chapters, or simple easy to digest books? Or are downloadable books really the way to go?

Over the last two years I’ve read lots on kids, babies, even some People mags…. but there have been a few books that have made my list as well:

– The Twilight Series. All four books. A very easy read and I personally love vampires. The only thing about this was that it was extremely difficult to relate to the high-school characters. I had a hard time dealing with the petty drama that came along with the characters but overall, it was entertaining.
– The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson. I highly recommend these. Short chapters. Interesting story. Interesting, likeable characters. You can squeeze in 10 minutes at the end of each day and make progress through the books since the writing is easy to follow and the sub-chapters are short and manageable.

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– Ann Rice Vampire books – these were heavier in terms of writing style but extremely enjoyable reads. Again, my vampire facination is coming out a bit so you’re seeing a part of me that is new.

I’m thinking about looking into the True Blood novels next.

So anyway, I’m finding through my kids and through myself that reading does relax. It obviously transports you into a different world which can be a godsend when times seem too difficult to navigate. Escaping in a good book, or at least an easy book, might be the cheapest medicine (and therapy) one can buy.

What are you Mamas out there reading? Any suggestions for other Mamas on books that you think are easy to get through and worth a try to keep you calm and centered?

Thanks for listening –
– Mama K

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Comments

  1. Unlike many of you, in the last 2 years (since my mid life crisis), I have read about a book a day. I read very fast and I was a stay at home mom with a nice chunk of afternoon time. I have returned to work but have not abandoned my reading. I watch zero night time TV. After I get my kiddies to bed, I put in 3 solid hours of reading each night. I am hooked on my smut….but additionally, I have read all the before mentioned (Dragon Tatoo, Twilight, Hunger Games). My book club keeps my syllabus varied but our recent pick I think is worth mentioning. I picked “Before I Go to Sleep” by S.J Watson because it was a Thriller and written by a man. We had not read this genre yet and most of our authors have been women. (Crazy that out of 16 books only 2 did not have a rape scene). Anyway, I have not finished this book yet but the other girls in my group are raving that this is our best read yet. The author participated in a writing workshop to complete this work and then gained immense recognition for his successful product. I am told that it is completely unpredictable. Novel idea.

  2. Great great post! Love the connection to reading for the young AND us oldies. You are so right. It has been a while since I have read a book cover to cover. I go in spurts. Taking the bus was a treat for me and gave me that 20 min of “me” time during which I would get lost in a novel. Once hooked, I would read before bed too, just to find out what happens next. I read a lot of different stuff, mostly recommendations from friends and family. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I liked Ken Follett’s book about the cathedral … can’t remember what the title is. Also The Other Boleyn Girl was entertaining. Loved the Help. I also read all 4 Twilight books and grumbled the whole way through about the teenage strife. I couldn’t believe I kept on reading it! I also enjoyed the Dragon Tattoo series after I got through the first 100 or so pages of the first one. I really enjoy Erik Larson’s books, too. The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts were really good.

    I am trying to start the Hunger Games now but I keep falling asleep before I turn page 1. And I no longer have the bus time I used to have. But you have inspired me now to keep at it at least for a few more pages!

    • I just read the Hunger Games in one day. Truly awesome read….even though it was written for teens. Stick with it.

      • I stuck with it, read the whole Hunger Games series and now here I am back again looking for another recommendation! I think I’m going to try Before I Go to Sleep. Sounds good! The other one that is intriguing to me is Quiet, the book about the strengths of introverts.

    • My Book Club is reading Nurture Shock, which is a parenting book. I have not read it yet but some of the girls who have no children, said it was fantastic. That alone makes me want to read it. I also love a great romance read so if you like that, I recommend Jennifer Crusie. I read Welcome to Temptation and Fast Women. Don’t let the titles fool you, she is a master of creating interesting characters with fun dialogue…..not your typical romance. Good Luck

  3. Jeanette says:

    Love this topic! I too, love books but between work, husband, child and house,never seemed to have time for reading. Last summer, I made the decision to make time. So glad that I did. So far I have read the first 8 Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, They’re quick reads and not as dark as the True Blood series (which I love). I also read Watership Down by Richard Harris, a bunch of Nicholas Sparks novels (also quick reads but all tear jerkers!), and Cell by Stephen King(love most of his books). Most recently, I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (which was not what I thought it would be-a bit dissapointing), and Oprah the unauthorized biography by Kitty Kelly( I know, not exactly great literature but interesting just the same). I am currently reading The Other Anna by Barbara Esstman(a book I bought years ago). I have so many books I’ve bought over the years and my goal is to get through them all. I have tried books on CD in the car but find my mind wanders and then I have to replay them. (books on CD are great for the kids in the car though-my daughter loves them-I get them from the library Charlotte’s Webb read by EB White himself is a favorite of our whole family). My reading is mostly done while I’m waiting at my daughter’s karate lessons or when she has a library program. I try to read at night too, but by then I’m ready to conk out! I want to read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo series also. I prefer actual books to say a kindle, but my husband now reads exclusively on the I Pad. Daughter also loves her books and has been devouring practically a book a day lately! She hides them under the covers!

  4. So funny you wrote about reading. I’ve missed it so much since I’ve had children. I recently bought a kindle for my daughter (who never uses it). I had some unexpected downtime (2 hours a day waiting for my son at therapy) so I loaded a book that everyone was talking about. OMG! I read the whole series in a week. Fifty Shades of Grey. Mama K-remember that name! Then I started The Hunger Games to see if it was appropriate for my daughter. Again, read the whole series in a week. I am so, so happy to be back to reading! My oldest daughter has problems falling asleep and she has started to read in bed too 🙂

  5. My kids are grown, but I love to read suspense novels. There is a character that I love: Alex Delaware. He is a child psychologist that lives in California. His best friend is Milo, a gay detective in the L.A. Area. They work together to crime-solve. Alex’s lover is Robin, a woodworker who builds musical instruments. It sounds like a “motley crew,” but they work well together. I think his first book in the Alex Delaware series is “Before the Bough Breaks.”

    If you just need a good laugh, the Janet Evanovich novels are entertaining and hilarious (and also suspenseful). Her character is Stephanie Plum, from Newark. These books are guaranteed to make you laugh. And we all need to laugh! This series begins with “One for the Money.”

    Then there’s Sue Grafton, whose character is Kinsey Milhone, a P.I. in a fictitious California town called Santa Teresa (near L.A.). The books begin with “A is for Alibi.”

    Happy reading….
    Emmy K.

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