Balancing the Stacks: How Books Have Drawn Me Closer To (And Away From) My Kids

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In September, the Motherhood Collective will feature posts on balance - having it or not! It's certainly a state most of us struggle to find. September is, for some, the calm before the storm. Our kids are back in school, fall activities have begun and we have a few precious weeks before we really have to start thinking about the holidays. What better time to take a few minutes to reflect on how we spend our time, juggle our lives and what we can do to achieve our own perfect balance! ~TMC

Last month, I shared with you my dirty little secret: I don't read to my baby.  At this stage in his life, he's more interested in chewing on the books than listening to them.  We talk, we sing, we explore (taste) our collection of board books, but that baby-on-the-lap-before bed traditional storytime is just not part of our bedtime routine.

At least not for my 9 month old.

I also have a daughter who is almost 3.5 (how did that happen?!?) and for her, our bedtime story is sacred.  We really began incorporating books into our bedtime routine when she transitioned to a toddler bed around 20 months.  It was a way of calming her at night, trying to make her drowsy enough that she wouldn't fight bedtime and would stay in her bed after we left the room. I was always the one who read the story, but it was family time, with all three of us--my daughter, my husband, and myself--huddled together on the floor.

And then last December my son was born.  From the day I returned home from the hospital, that bedtime story became "Our Special Time".  With a new baby in the house, one who turned out to be a horrible refluxer and needed even more mama attention than usual, carving time out for my daughter was both a necessity and a challenge.  But we made that storytime a priority.

One night we read a book about a brother and sister who were constantly getting into messes throughout the day.  Hands, feet, and noses always sticky.  For some reason, she latched on to the "sticky noses" phrase and now it's part of the way we say goodnight, a sign of affection, to rub "sticky" noses.  How awesome is that?  That something so simple as a bedtime story could become something so important as a way of saying "I love you"?

Precious, isn't it?

But let's forget about the kiddos for a minute.

Reading is also how I find my own balance and space.  After the kids are in bed, I can be found with my laptop and a pile of library books.  While my husband edits his latest batch of photos, I catch up on the latest in children's literature.  When I was in the classroom, I book-talked with my students constantly.  Literacy is a passion, something I want to share.  It's why I went back to school for my graduate degree in library science.

And then I had kids.  And now instead of being in the classroom, I'm teaching my own little ones at home.

The most challenging part of being a stay-at-home parent?  The lack of adult interaction (can I get an "Amen!"?).  You have to create opportunities, otherwise it is entirely possible to go an entire day  speaking to nobody over three feet tall.  Even with those opportunities, my poor husband still braces himself for an avalanche of stored up conversation the moment he walks in the door.

So I turned to blogging. And blogging led to networking.  And networking allowed me to turn Once Upon A Story into a site where I can share my passion for children's literature, where I can share what I'm reading, where I can get suggestions and chat with other teachers, librarians, and parents.

Mother.  Wife. Teacher.  Librarian. Blogger.

Balance.

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