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Life is full, right?
Full laundry hampers, full sink of dishes, full to-do lists, full….diapers? 😃
When I first committed to spend more time reading aloud to our kids (and listening to audiobooks), the first thing I asked was, “Where is this extra time going to come from?” I didn’t have any extra time!
I needed to find moments in our week where I could exchange activities – stop doing one thing and instead start reading. I was able to find five regularly-scheduled times to fit audiobooks into our day. You know what?
It improved our family.
When our son was 6, he told us that he liked listening to audiobooks more than watching movies. He said audiobooks were more entertaining, because he can use his imagination to picture the story and not have the picture just handed to him. I couldn’t have said it better!
As Sarah Mackenzie from Read Aloud Revival says, we make meaningful connections with our kids through books. When you experience something together — a mystery, comedy, tragedy, adventure — you have a shared memory. (For some of our all-time favorite audiobooks, check out this post.)
Our kids have also become more dedicated readers since we started reading aloud. They are far more likely to pick up a book in their free time since we started reading (and listening) together as a family.
When do we read aloud, or listen to audiobooks?
1. Meal prep
Anyone else have kids go a wee bit crazy before dinnertime? We start an audiobook and they settle in to listen. They quiet themselves on the couch so they don’t miss a word, and I can get what I need done in the kitchen. (We play most of our audiobooks by pairing my phone to Amazon Echo. Check out this post for details on how to do that.)
We educate our kids at home, so we are home at lunch time. My daughter is eleven and she enjoys meal prep. Every day at lunchtime, I read aloud to the kids while my daughter prepares lunch (don’t worry, we sit where she can hear, too). I continue reading aloud while they eat, and often I keep reading well beyond lunchtime. It’s one of my favorite times of our day!
2. Car time
We’ve decided to avoid screens (tablets, phones, etc) in the car. In our opinion, there’s so much to see out our car window that we’d miss if we were staring at a screen.
On short drives, we usually have the radio/audiobook/playlists off so we can chat, joke, sing, etc. The kids ask amazing questions and we get into some interesting discussions!
But on longer drives (over 30 minutes), we’ll listen to audiobooks. We can still look around and observe our world, but with the added benefit of some entertainment.
On road trips, I pick a couple audiobooks that we can complete while we travel. We still refer to certain trips as the “Twenty-One Balloon” trip, or the “By The Great Horn Spoon!” trip, because those were the books we listened to in the car!
3. In exchange for screen time
Our kids are (almost) screen free, meaning they watch Netflix or play video games sparingly (about one hour per week). When they’re done with school, chores, practicing, reading, and are searching for something to do, suggesting an audiobook is typically answered by a resounding “Yes!”
It’s refreshing to see them immersed in a quality story rather than head to Netflix by default.
4. Folding Laundry
We have a laundry day each week, which means we have a folding party! We turn on the audiobook and get to work. Each of us has our assigned role and it gets done in no time! And, the kids (typically) don’t complain because they’re too busy listening to the story.
5. Craft/Art/Draw time
I needed to schedule this one. I’m not naturally a “crafty” person. When my oldest was a toddler, I had to consciously schedule coloring time into our day, or she would’ve never learned how to use a crayon! 😃
Since I know myself, I need to work around this weakness of mine by scheduling creative time. Coloring books, paint, How To Draw books, scrap paper, glue — it’s set out on the table and the audiobook comes on.
Every family’s different, so these won’t work for everyone. They don’t always work for us! But, I think it’s safe to say we can all find time to make connections with our kids through great books.