What To Do When You Don’t Have The Time (Or Energy!) To Read A Long Bedtime Story

Photo by Opal Eyes on Flickr.com


As parents, we often have high expectations for how we think our day will go with our children. 

We envision cooking a delicious homemade breakfast that hits every food group and then spending the day sticking to the perfect schedule we found on Pinterest.

The reality is a bowl of cereal, running out the door with one shoe on, then finally collapsing on the couch after an exhausting day to watch YouTube videos instead of a reading a bedtime story. But there is a better option!

Experts agree that reading books aids in childhood development, increases neurons in their brains, and enhances a positive family relationship, as Mommy Underground has previously reported.

So reading to our children is a must.

Does that mean we have to commit to reading a chapter of A Tale of Two Cities in every evening?


For some families, especially those with multiple children, it is nearly impossible to lay in bed and read each one a full book and still get the sleep their growing minds need.

The trick is finding something small to focus on to make the evening routine special – and not a fight.

Vanessa Loder, writing for Scary Mommy, makes sure to read a story at night to her kids but focuses on two things – “word count and humor.”

Some of us are like Vanessa and don’t enjoy reading aloud in any capacity and look for those books that are short and make everyone giggle.

Does this make parents feel guilty? At times. But it shouldn’t.

Our love for our children isn’t measured in word count but in quality time.

So here are a few tricks to give your children the intellectual advantage they need that comes from reading to them, without compromising your sanity or using up those last few morsels of energy you need to finish that load of laundry after the kids go to sleep.

Pick a novel to read to all the kids together, but only read two pages a night and then cuddle up to talk about it.

If the classics aren’t your thing, give each child a night where they get to choose ONE book before bed that you read to everybody. 

Another option that releases you from reading duty altogether is to get the kids into audiobooks. 

There are free children’s books on Spotify or PBS Kids, but you can also rent audiobooks from the library.

And don’t miss out on the quality time you can still spend even if you’re listening to a book.

Give each child 5 minutes of individualized cuddle time and then turn off all audiobooks after 30 minutes.

Kids are extremely adaptable and will have the easiest time transitioning if they know what to expect. 

That is why now is the time to start a healthy bedtime routine where you can send all the children off to never-neverland with a clean conscious – knowing you gave your babes an important developmental experience with enough time leftover for YOU to wind-down with a few episodes of your favorite show – before starting the whole beautiful process all over again.