In Defense of the Audiobook :: How I Reclaimed a Long Lost Love of Reading while Parenting Toddlers

In Defense of the Audiobook :: How I Reclaimed a Long Lost Love of Reading while Parenting Toddlers

Before I had kids, I always kept a stack of books on my nightstand, ready and waiting for me as I climbed into bed each night. During my first pregnancy, the bulk of that stack morphed from bestseller memoirs and rom-coms into books about babies, breastfeeding, and sleep training. I would go on to have three babies in as many years, so reading fell away during the chaos of juggling three toddlers and a marriage and a full-time job.

My oldest will be 5 this summer and my youngest will turn 2 that same month (while my feisty 3-year-old holds down the middle). Even though we are very much still in the throes of this very demanding “high physical needs” chapter of their lives, they are all pretty good about following the morning, mealtime, and evening routines my husband and I have worked hard to put into place. There’s obviously still a lot of messes, toddler boundary-pushing (with lots more to come), and the usual meltdowns about which color cup they’re given. But, for the most part, they’re growing up to be great kids.

Like so many of us these days, one of my favorite corners of the internet is a mom group I found on Facebook during COVID. They’ve since had offshoot groups for foodies, budgeters, fitness enthusiasts, and bookworms. I joined that last group in July 2022 with the hope that it would reignite my love of reading.

And then I went another entire YEAR without reading a single book. <insert face palm>

It’s definitely not that I didn’t *want* to read, it’s that my body was so physically drained by the end of the day that I simply could not keep my eyes open once I settled in and cracked open a book. My two older kids slept through the night easily, but the baby was still up once or twice a night. My husband and I took turns tending to him, but it didn’t matter — broken sleep is crappy sleep. I was just plain EXHAUSTED.

In the summer of 2023, I decided I wanted to make a change. I’d love to tell you that this epiphany was brought on by some amazing moment in my personal growth, but it was truthfully just FOMO (or “fear of missing out”) getting the best of me.

It seemed like everyone I knew was posting about the Colleen Hoover books It Ends With Us, It Starts With Us, and Verity. Motherhood can be so isolating and so many women in this group of moms I adored had given these books their stamps of approval, so it mattered to me. I literally knew nothing about what any of those books was about, but I wanted to — if for no other reason than to just KNOW what everyone else seemed to be in on.

The problem was I was still just so damn tired. Even if I could force myself to stay awake long enough to get in some meaningful reading, it felt like it would take me forever and a day to finish a book. That felt intimidating. I get practically everything else in my life done while multitasking, too bad I couldn’t multitask this too. But wait…

Enter the audiobook.

It had been a while since I’d given audiobooks whirl — like, maybe when they were still on CDs! But there are so many ways to consume them now, some of them are even free through your local library.

I sell whole-home generators in the Greater New Orleans Area & on the Northshore, so I’m in the car A LOT. Whenever I’m in the car alone, I usually have a podcast going so I figured I could easily swap a podcast for an audiobook.

But the “guilt” crept in. The idea that “listening to audiobooks isn’t really reading” was constantly in the back of my mind, as though having a book read to me was somehow “cheating” because I wasn’t physically reading the book with my own eyes. And I know there’s nothing quite like the feeling of tucking a can’t-put-down paperback into my bag for when you have a free moment later.

It’s really ridiculous that I ever thought that because here’s the thing: once I made the switch to listening to audiobooks, my life changed for the better.

Here’s how:

  • I accomplished my (admittedly silly) goal of knowing what everyone was talking about whenever one of those books was mentioned. This “knowing” made me feel like I was once again part of a community, of something bigger than myself.
  • I began listening to audiobooks while I was doing other things than just driving, like cooking dinner or doing dishes or folding laundry, and those mundane tasks didn’t feel nearly as monotonous as they usually did. (Of course, I live with several very small, very LOUD children, so there’s that.)
  • One audiobook turned into two and so on because I’d found something sustainable — something that gave me TIME to accomplish the things I needed to do while also being able to do something I enjoyed.
  • While I still mainly gravitate towards bestsellers, I listen to books from so many different genres: mysteries, thrillers, memoirs, beach reads, parenting, historical fiction, and some good ol’ smut, just to name a few. I listen to books written by people from backgrounds different than myself so I can better understand their different lived experiences.  I’m expanding my mind and my viewpoints and I feel more connected to the world around me.
  • I am doing something just for myself, squeezing in the “me time” that I’d unintentionally put off for so long since having kids. As mothers, it’s so easy to put ourselves on the back burner while we attend to more important, more immediate matters. This was a way for me to do both. I feel like a calmer, more complete person when I’m taking care of my family while not neglecting myself. It sounds so simple, but IYKYK.

To my great surprise, I logged a staggering TWENTY-ONE BOOKS between July 19, 2023 and December 31, 2023! We are less than four months into 2024 and I’m already fourteen books in. The fact that I’ve read more books in the last ten months than I’d read in the past 5 years is crazy to me.

And I’m not stopping anytime soon. I’ve recently found a creative outlet that I’m turning into a bit of a side hustle, and most nights after the kids are in bed, I’ll work in my studio (ahem, dining room) and listen to a book. There’s just something remarkably empowering about reclaiming this love of reading I’ve found in embracing audiobooks.

Maybe it’s because I’ve also reclaimed a bit of myself, too.

Joey Yearous
Joey is a New Orleans native, Dominican alum, and LSU grad who joined the ranks of motherhood in the summer of 2019. She and her Colorado born-and-raised husband, Phil, left their Mid-City apartment for a house on the Northshore about ten days before they welcomed their son, Sam, into the world. A short 19 months later, their daughter Sloane arrived and their caboose Nicholas completed their family 17 months after that. Though she’s always had a passion for writing, it’s her work in whole-home generator sales that pays the bills. Her 3 kiddos keep her busy, but when she’s got a free moment, you can find her cooking, trying new restaurants, and listening to true crime podcasts. A consummate Pinterest fanatic, she’s always looking for her next DIY project or recipe to try. She believes good senses of humor and random acts of kindness make the world go ‘round.



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