As an INFJ and easily over-stimulated person, I have learned about myself that I need more rest, quiet and self-care than the average folk. (Is there such a thing as ‘average’?)
Prone to burn-out and people-pleasing and defining my worth by all the things I’ve achieved and produced, it has been very important to me to learn how to stop writing to-do lists, to find peace with saying no to people and activities when I feel too stretched from time to time, and to invest in the kind of care I give my children: soothing baths, rest days at home, good food, music that nourishes, and things that give energy rather than take it.
Crowds and being out all day and a full diary are just not my jam, and though I love adventures overseas and date nights with my girlfriends and getaways with my little family, for me, there’s a fine balance between these life-giving things, and when I slot too many of them in. And when that happens, back I recoil to the softer things in my life I know replenish me and ground me back to myself.
One of which are books.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved books: I was the bookworm with the entire Babysitters Club collection and devoured them in 10 seconds flat, staying up late and sneaking my lamp on when I was supposed to be asleep. Books made sense to me. They didn’t take anything from you. There weren’t complicated social rules to decipher and they didn’t require anything of me but to take in and expand a little all at once; into different worlds, different ideas and into new, inspiring information. Books were quiet and soothing, replenishing and grounding. All they demanded of me was to feel, and more importantly, in the safety of my own inner world, where the deepest parts of me were.
Over the years, I’ve peaked and troughed with my reading levels, sometimes having four books on the go, sometimes not reading anything for months. Like friendships and long baths though, reading is something one needs to make time for, and this usually means being far more intentional with your day. Being intentional with our time requires of us looking closely at our habits and making adjustments when the things we are doing on a daily basis are not life-giving. How much time do I spend scrolling social media? Watching television? Runnings errands haphazardly because I’m not organised?
For me, one the biggest ways I’ve adjusted how I intentionally spend my time is dedicating certain times of the day to things like social media and screen time and not engaging with them outside of these hours.
Here are some main things I’ve learned about fitting more reading time into my life:
Designate time to social media, say 8-8:15am and 5-5:15pm and don’t pick up your phone to scroll in between this time.
Make a goal to read just four pages, or a chapter, or whatever kind of reading level suits you, per night. You don’t need hours at a time. Sometimes just 15 minutes a day can mean you are getting through your book and adding something purposeful to each day.
Have your book where you can see it on your nightstand or near a favourite lounge chair so you’re encouraged and prompted to read it.
Start a book club with friends, or a single friend, where you meet every month and swap a favourite book, meaning you’ve got one month to read the book!
Skip the television. We don’t have a television in our home, so this isn’t so much of a problem but I’m sure if we had one, we’d be tempted to switch it on and veg out rather than make the choice to engage in other more soulful activities, especially reading. Maybe break your week into certain screen-free nights, or reserve the television only for a couple of times each week when you know a certain favourite show will be on. This frees up your evenings to pick up your book. You’ll feel so glad you did.
Read where you can, lunch breaks, when kids are sleeping, waking earlier to read over a hot coffee while the rest of your family sleeps, in the bath, in school pick up line. Think of all the times you have a spare ten minutes and pick up your phone to scroll – you could easily swap that for picking up a book, and I can almost guarantee the book will be more inspiring!
This goes for taking your book wherever you go – you never know when you will have a spare ten minutes.
Stay open to book recommendations so you don’t go through a dry spell where you have nothing of interest to read. Jot down book names you come across in the notes section of your phone. If you find an author you love, order their other books. Ask friends what they are currently reading. Do a google search of books on certain topics you want to read or learn about and look them up on book review websites. I have a few people on Instagram I follow because they often share great books they are reading, along with other inspirational things and I make a note of them in my phone so if my reading materials are running out, I can jump on Book Depository and look a handful of books up and order them.
Even if a book isn’t your absolute favourite, there is always something to learn from them or to take away, and above all else, it is a restful activity that replenishes reserves rather than exerts.
So….for some book inspiration: Here is my current winter library for you fellow bookworms!
No Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel + Tina Payne Bryson
This is such a helpful book for parents when navigating how to discipline children through tantrums and rebellion. It is science-based, drawing huge insights about how a child’s brain develops and what they really need through discipline and a big take-away for me is that discipline can and should teach instead of punish…and how to go about doing that. Discipline can often feel relentless and we so often approach it from a reactionary place, which does no one any good. I have underlined so much of this book and it’s honestly helping so much.
The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron
Reading this book has been like a breath of relief and fresh air for me. In a society dominated by stress and excess and where being outgoing and extraverted are seen as the ideal, this book is not only validation, but it’s a change in perspective for those of us who need frequent alone time, who find things to be too much at times, who can easily be overwhelmed by stimulation, noise, chaos, and doing, and who notice more than the average bear, and so needs to counteract that kind of awareness with unplugging often. Sensitivity is perceived as a generally negative trait in our culture: too weak, too wussy, and – God forbid – too unsocial, however this book unravels sensitivity in a positive light and how the sensitive person can work with it and thrive in a society which is the opposite. Also a great book to have on hand if you a raising a sensitive child. Highly recommend!
The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape
When it comes to money, my general attitude is to cover my eyes with my hands and hope everything is okay. It’s a really empowering approach, obviously. Whenever Joel talks to me about our money and what things we need to start putting in place and organising, I immediately go to my happy place, which is redecorating our home in the cosy comfort of my mind. Should we paint our exterior that soft grey pink I trialled or go for all white: classy and fresh? He says things like superannuation and shares, income protection and insurance premiums and I don’t know, I feel as though it’s a direct assault on my life. I become very bothered. To be fair, Joel is forcing me to read this book because I need to understand and be on board with the things he is talking to me about, and I have committed myself to a chapter a night. But you guys, I don’t hate it. It’s really easy to read, and it’s so completely practical and useful with a step by step plan to setting up your money so it’s automatic, you know where everything is, you are saving stacks without budgeting, and how to set yourself up financially so that financial freedom is a very real possibility. No one teaches you this kind of stuff – you certainly don’t learn it in school and I highly recommend this for anyone and everyone. It’s been so useful to us.
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
I’ve only read a small bit of this book so far but have taken so much away and can relate to the busyness of our culture and how it not only negatively impacts adults, but also our children. I can completely understand the overstimulation kids are facing and I love how the book validates and encourages that less is more, and how we can create harmony and rhythms at home which ease our daily stresses and make everything flow much more peacefully in our family life.
And that’s my reading collection for now! What are you reading at the moment? Any good books to share?