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Article  •  3 September 2021


Simple reading hacks for time-poor dads

Two authors — who are also dads — share their tips on how fathers can get a moment to themselves.

Many things take a hit when you have kids. Sleeping in until midday. Spending time with friends. Wearing clothes that aren’t flecked with food stains. But one that many parents don’t expect is reading.

So what can time-poor dads do to keep up their reading habits?

Christopher Scanlon, author of Raising Girls Who Like Themselves, and Nick Earls, who has just released his new book Empires, have shared their top tips.

Reading in micro-bursts
While the days of burying your head in a book for hours at a time may be behind you for now, Scanlon says adjusting your approach to reading could be the secret to finishing a book.

He suggests reading in micro-bursts in the same way you read a news article on your phone, scroll through social media or glance at your emails during the school pick-up.

'Have a book on your favourite eBook app and read it in the same bursts that you would have previously looked at social media,' he says.

'You may surprise yourself in how much these micro-bursts add up.'

Become a listener
Having washing to do and dinner to cook can make it hard to find the time to sit down with a book.

That’s why Scanlon suggests multi-tasking and listening to an audiobook instead.

'After kids they are a must for readers missing their favourite papery companion,' he says.

'Combine them with exercise, the morning commute or doing the vacuuming and you kill two time-poor birds with one stone.'

Get caught reading
If you want your child to be a reader, the best way to encourage them is to get caught reading yourself.

'If your children pester you, and want your attention, tell them to hang on a moment because your book is really exciting you and you want to find out what happens next (this assumes, of course, that the kitchen is not on fire and the bathtub’s overflowing),' Scanlon says.

'Getting caught reading might seem like you’re shirking parenting responsibilities, but prioritising reading is a great way to model reading to your kids.

'It’s good to see how engrossing books can be. If everything goes to plan, they might begin to wonder what’s so great about books.' 

Book it in the diary
After Earls realised he was becoming a lapsed reader and spending too much time watching Netflix, he decided it was time to take books more seriously.

To make sure he was taking a timeout to read, he started booking it in his diary like you would a dentist appointment or work meeting.

'Tell family members in advance you’ll be doing it, and that the diary entry committing to reading has the same weight as a concert ticket,' he says.

'Encourage them to do something similar.

'Keep the message clear when the time comes around. Say you will be reading for the next hour and please only interrupt me if it’s an emergency.'

Earls also recommends booking in a reading hour for the whole family on a weekend for a quiet, shared experience.

Also try giving a thought to what you might read next, and choose something you know you’ll look forward to scheduling in your diary.

Put the phone down
Give yourself the full reading experience and remove yourself from other people and distractions, like your phone.

Earls says leaving your phone on the kitchen counter and reading in your bedroom or balcony can help put all your focus into your book.

'Don’t suck yourself into believing that it’s handy to keep your phone with you, in case you need to look up anything in the book, because we all know where that goes,' he says.


Empires Nick Earls

Empires rise and fall, human lives are lived, collisions occur more than we will ever know, and yet the unexpected can still happen.

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