How can parents find time to read and learn

by Mary Ann on June 1, 2011

old house pictures

I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth
. . .therefore, First, set in order thy house
” Doctrine and Covenants 93:43

I read this verse of scripture on the program at church and it struck me in a new way. On this day I first saw the words “First, set in order thy house”.

It brought to my mind another verse of scripture. “For now we see through a glass darkly”. 1 Cor. 14:12

Seeing through a glass darkly is an apt analogy when we are thinking in terms of sharing knowledge with our children. If the windows to our home are dark then we can not see out clearly. Everything that we do see will be dimmed by our own darkness. We will not be able to give any more light to our families than we ourselves possess. We have to be enlightened first and then we can share with our children.

reading bible pictures

Make time for reading daily

I have been thinking in terms of the classics and our spiritual cannon. If we are totally unfamiliar with them then we cannot call them to mind when a quote or thought from them might enlighten a child, illuminate a teaching, open a new learning adventure or ease a soul. These quotes and teachings won’t be in us, our house is empty and our windows are dark. As parents we want to be able to do and say the right thing when it is needed so that we can give more to our children but if our own house is dark there is nothing to give.

Reading the classics and our spiritual cannon is like washing our own windows and filling our house with light. As we enlighten ourselves we see more clearly. We can see our children and their needs more clearly.

So how do busy parents find the time for self education and reflection? I have some ideas that have helped me.

1. Decide that you want a superb education. Make a personal commitment to it so that when it is difficult you can and will follow through.

2. Have one book available all the time. When I had children I packed one in the diaper bag. Later I had a small bag by the front door with a book, pencil and paper in it. I could grab and go at a moments notice. Declare your intention by being prepared.

3. Have a second book, which you will read more often, available in your home so that when the rare moment occurs, you can read.

4. Give up perfection. I know that having quiet, focusing on one book fully and taking notes is the best way to digest a book. Your season for that will come but may not be now. Be content with reading while nursing, cooking, waiting for the washer to fill, waiting at red lights, snatching a paragraph or two while managing a toddler at the doctors office and while grabbing your 30 seconds of private time on the toilet. (Hmmmmm, if you can get it)

5. Plan ahead to talk about something from your reading at dinner. Throw out a thought and see who responds. Let the conversation flow. You can even do this with a 3 year old. “Jenny, what would you do if someone wanted you to be mean to someone else.” (Maybe you have been reading Lord of the Flies) You and your spouse can have a discussion which the children may join. If not they will hear what you are learning.

6. Call a friend on the phone and share an aha. They do not have to have read the book. The best way to learn is to share what you have just read and discovered.

7. Try to give yourself 10 minutes before sleep to read a few paragraphs. It can sometimes give you great thoughts and ideas upon waking.

8. Have a pad and pen by your bed. When you wake up sit on the edge of the bed quietly for just a couple of minutes and ask your brain what it came up with in the night. See what ideas might flow out and write them down. If the baby is crying take the pad and pen with you. While changing a diaper or nursing ask your brain what it has come up with in the night and then write it down.

9. Try picking a book with your spouse and structuring a time to read to each other for 10 or 15 minutes everyday. Remember to structure the time and then hold it sacred. That is when things really happen. For Don and I it is in the evening. It can happen anytime between 9pm and midnight. That is the best we can do but we almost always do it even if it is only one paragraph or verse of scripture. Don’t worry that it can take months to finish a book. You will finish!

10. Cast out discouragement because you cannot read and study for long periods of dedicated time.  Everything has a season. Your current season is parenting. Your children are the rocks. They go in the jar first. Housekeeping, preparing food, work and all the rest are the small gravel that we sift in after the rocks. Church, community duties, etc. are the sand which come next. Reading and learning are the water. There is always room for the water when we put the rocks in first. Remember everything has a season and be content with your season.

reading with babies pictures

Be content with your season

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shiniga June 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I loved todays post. It was exactly what I was looking for and it did give me some ideas to relieve my frustration of managing my time. :)Especially the 10th point. It gives a clear and beautiful picture of how it works.


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