Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TWRV: Reading on Vacation...With A Toddler

Today is your second lovely guest post for  The Well-Read Vacay 2013 .  Please join me in welcoming  Cari from Sweet Sweet Nothings!   I am totes biased in choosing her to guest blog for me, because in addition to running a very cool mommy-slash-review blog, she is also my real-life BFF.  So I can verify that she is (mostly) not crazy and a super awesome person overall.  Even though we are polar opposites (a story for another day).  :)  ANYWAY, Cari has her very own Small Fry (Lexi), so she gets what I'm going through as I vacation with my little man this week!  Read on for her insights into squeezing in that reading when you vacay with kids...


Helloooooo Well-Read Redhead readers!
My family on vacation in the Outer Banks
I am so honored to be guest blogging today on my dear friend's blog while she is off with her family vacationing.  I am completely jealous of her leisure reading chasing after a toddler right now! I am not a book blogger, but I do have a blog over at  Sweet Sweet Nothings  where I blog about my life, being a mom, and I also try to squeeze in reviews on all sorts of subjects.  Although I leave the book reviewing to this awesome blog because really even before Kelly started it I was always going to her for advice on what books to read and so 99.9% of the books I have read Kelly has reviewed already!  While Kelly is in a million challenges and has read more books in one year than I have in a lifetime (okay now I am just being dramatic, but I bet it is close), I only gave myself ONE book challenge this year.  My challenge for myself was to read 1 book each month and I am happy to report that I am right on track to meet this goal!
off in search of seagulls!
Some of my favorite times to read during the year is when I am on vacation.  I would normally bring about 5-6 books on vacation (now with a Kindle this is a much lighter feat).  I would start my reading in the airport before boarding a plane and usually wouldn't stop until we parked back at our house from our vacation.  It is great because both my husband and I could sit by a pool and read all day under an umbrella and sip on fruity drinks.   I have even been known to bring my book into the pool!  This was certainly my definition of a leisurely vacation.  
Enter in our life a baby. Our first vacation as a family of three my daughter Lexi was only 4 months old.  She was still a very sleepy baby and wasn't mobile and so I was still able to find plenty of opportunities to squeeze in a few books while on vacation.  Our next trip was to Florida without Lexi  for my husband's 30th birthday and we just sat by the pool all weekend long reading, relaxing, and drinking fruity drinks like the old days.   So when we took a trip to the Outer Banks this past April with a very mobile toddler I  was a bit na├»ve to think that I could stuff my Kindle with books and find plenty of time to read.  We did a ton of playing, digging in the sand, applying suntan lotion, running away from waves, swimming, keeping sand out of her mouth, building sand castles, collecting rocks and shells, and chasing after seagulls--but reading didn't really make our to-do list most days.  I would average about 4-5 books on a week long vacation and on our April vacation I didn't even get through an entire book! GASP!   Looking back there are a few things I would do differently on our next trip with Lexi to fit in more time for reading and I thought I would share with all of you avid readers out there! 
1. Have the mindset of "If I was stranded on an island and could only bring 1 book...". 
Since I thought I was going to be reading a few books on vacation I didn't really put much thought on what book I would start off with while on vacation. I started my vacation with a slow moving book, which led me to choose other activities rather than pick up a book I was dying to keep reading.  I am not one to drop a book easily (like my friend Kelly!) and so I was trying to get through the book little by little, which in the end wasn't a smart move because I never did finish the book while on vacation.  I found that I didn't have the Big Mo' for reading while on vacation and this was my biggest downfall.  For me, once I start reading a really good book it keeps me in the reading mind set for an entire vacation and keeps me engaged in reading.  I wish I did some better research on the book I was going to read and picked one that had the description of a quick read to help with this dilemma. So my advice is to think to yourself if you only get through one book on vacation, which one do you really want it to be? Because it really could be only one book you get through on a vacation with a toddler. 
2. Make a plan with your partner. 
We love family time and hanging out all together so it can be hard to carve out some "me" time during a family vacation.  My husband throughout the week would tell me to go and do something for myself and I just felt the pull of staying with everyone. It felt weird to just leave and hang by the pool and read for even an hour while he was busy keeping Lexi entertained.  It probably has to do with some sort of mom guilt, but in the end it was hard for me to pull away from the family.  Towards the end of the trip,  I was really getting into my book and my husband said to stay up and read and that he would take the morning shift with Lexi.  I just thought this was so brilliant!  I like reading into the wee hours of the night and so this plan made perfect sense.  Plus I am not a morning person so this sleeping in idea sounded like a real vacation luxury! So I was really grateful to have the reading time for myself without worrying about the consequences it would bring when Lexi woke up early.  That next morning I was able to sleep in after a night of reading and in that moment I truly felt like I was on vacation with no mom guilt in sight!  It was a spontaneous plan, but a plan none the less to help structure my "me" time into the vacation and help with the dreaded "mom guilt" that can sometimes happen with "me" time.   For future trips I hope we do more planning about what "me" time would look for both of us.  It will really help out with making trips feel leisurely even with a very active toddler.
taking a break from eating the sand
3. Don't pack a book in your beach bag. 
Okay so this one might be a little bit of a stretch for you avid book readers (I know Kelly doesn't go anywhere without a book!), but it has to do with being realistic and not necessarily your beach bag.  At the beginning of our trip I would throw my Kindle into the beach bag thinking "if I get a few moments to read it will be nice to have..." In theory this sounded like a great idea, but it only left me frustrated.  There were a few times on the beach that I was thinking that I wish I could bust out my book and read a few pages, but with a toddler you need all eyes all the time on them near bodies of water.  A couple of times I said to my husband, "remember when we could just lay out on the beach and read for hours?" In that moment I was really missing our old way of vacationing.  Knowing the book was in my bag was just taunting me on the fact that I wasn't reading the book and it was taking my mind and focus from family time on the beach.   After two days of this, I realized  that I wasn't going to have a few moments to read my book on the beach/pool and left the Kindle back at the house rather than in my bag.  This act made a world of difference with keeping my focus on family time and my daughter rather than the book at the bottom of my beach bag.  It gave me a realistic view of what our time on the beach would look like with a toddler and helped me realize I needed to carve other time in my vacation outside of my normal sit by the pool/lay on the beach type reading I was use to.
4.  Lastly, read with your child. 
I know toddlers have an attention span of 5 minutes seconds for a task, but each day on vacation we would have some quiet playing time (around 15-20 minutes) to wind down from the day.  She was 13 months at the time of the vacation and so she was just starting to do some independent play.  It normally involved giving her some books for her to read, blocks to stack, paper to scribble on and other low energy games. Depending on the age of your child that will probably determine the length of time you get to read.    I wasn't able to get huge chunks of solid reading done during this time, but it gave me a chance to finish up a chapter I was in the middle of reading or a chance to read a magazine (magazine reading counts too!).  A few pages over the course of a vacation can really add up! Plus I want reading to be a part of my daughter's life and most of the reading that I do she doesn't get to witness.  This gives her a chance to see that reading is important to me too and that I love to read as well!  She sees me put on makeup every single day and so now she wants to be like mommy and put on makeup in the morning with me (I can't believe it already is starting!) and so if she sees me reading even a little each day it might give her the push to want to do like mommy and read a book.   I am hoping on future vacations reading can become a family event towards the end of the day to wind down from our awesome vacation adventures. We are taking toddler steps towards that goal. 
Anyone have any other reading tips while vacationing with a young child? How many books can you normally read on a family vacation?
 all pictures were taken by  Beach Productions
Want to know more about Cari and her adorbs family?  Check out rennsnest.wordpress.com or her Twitter!


  1. Way to go on meeting your reading goals for the year. It's not always easy, especially when you have little ones.

    I remember those toddler years as if they were yesterday. My "baby" is 13. So now? I can just tell my kids to buzz off, momma is reading! ;)

    1. As much as I love the toddler years, I do dream of that future day fondly sometimes... :)

Imagination Designs