I hope you don’t need to deal with this kind of narrow-mindedness. But if you do, here are some ways you can continue to read, but fool everyone into thinking the chores are getting done.

We’ve all been irritated by members of our family who think that because we’re ‘just reading’ we aren’t busy and can therefore be disturbed. Even worse, some have the frankly ridiculous idea that we really should get all our chores done before we open a book. They wonder where the food is, or why they haven’t got any clean socks. My hubby has somehow been imbued with this notion. To do him credit, if I’m still deep in a book by 5:30 he generally gets the idea and wanders into the kitchen to make dinner himself. But things can get a little fraught if I’m reading instead of washing the work clothes he needs the next day, or if we’re supposed to be leaving the house in ten minutes and I’m still in my pyjamas, glued to my book. I hope you don’t need to deal with this kind of narrow-mindedness. But if you do, here are some ways you can continue to read, but fool everyone into thinking the chores are getting done.

1. Getting ready

 I’m sure I’m not the only one who regularly feels they can’t possibly go out all evening without first knowing who the murderer is. But other family members can get stressed by our lack of progress in dressing. The correct procedure is to sit on the bed with your clothes laid out next to you. (Don’t read while you select what to wear. The results can be decidedly odd.) Read, putting one garment on every few minutes. Should anyone come to see how you’re getting on, shove the book under your pillow. I usually complain about having had a massive knot in my hair to explain the lack of speed. If you don’t have long hair try saying you laddered your tights, your fake eyelashes wouldn’t stick, your back’s gone, etc. Use your imagination.

2. Changing the bed

 Strip off all the bedclothes and pile them by the door. This should stop all but the most intrepid meddler from entering. (Make sure you’ve got the clean sheets in the room with you first. We don’t want any broken ankles. Although that would open a lot of reading time…) Lay the sheet on the bed and tuck in one or possibly two corners. Now you can start reading. If anyone comes in, drop the book on top of the pile of bed linen. If you’re anything like me, there’s always a book sat on the bed anyway, so it will just look like you had to move it to do your very important chore.

3. Cooking

 This one is best for when using an E-reader. Shove a pizza and some chips into the oven. Scatter some flour on the surfaces. Read. If anyone comes in, murmur something like ‘two cups of flour,’ or ‘what the hell is Xanthan gum?’ It will look like you’re reading a recipe rather than a novel. (If you don’t want to actually make something, a little forward planning is needed. Shop bought cookies placed in a cake tin work well. Of course, you could claim to have made the pizza base if you think anyone would fall for it.) If anyone gets too inquisitive you may have to pretend it’s all going wrong and get really cross with your baking. Most people will then leave you alone. And you can claim to have thrown the offending bake away, thus explaining why there is none. If you shout something like ‘what possessed me to try and make turnip cake!’ they probably won’t enquire too closely as to its whereabouts anyway.

 4. When you’re supposed to be having an early night

 Although not exactly a chore, this is an essential skill for any bookworm. As a child, I always thought being grown up meant I could go to bed whenever I wanted. Turns out, I married a man who likes to be in bed by nine and is a light sleeper. And in the main I sympathise with the fact that, since it falls to him to drag me up in the morning, it’s best if I don’t read too late. But there are times when the fate of the characters you’re reading about are more important than how you’ll feel in the morning. I have been know to stand on the landing till 2:30 am, reading. When my husband woke up I was able to say I was ‘just coming.’ Sadly, he knew me too well to believe that. Another time, some comment like ‘shouldn’t have had that last cup of tea,’ or ‘my bladder’s not what it was’ may work. I’ll let you know. But really, the standing on the landing technique is pretty cold and uncomfortable and I only recommend it in extremes. Otherwise, I suggest waiting until hubby goes to sleep, then positioning yourself on your tummy with the book or tablet under your pillow. Now raise the pillow so it’s standing on end, preventing the light from your tablet or torch from waking your other half up. This is a much comfier and warmer method. If it seems like your partner is stirring you can quickly lower the pillow and lay your head on it till the alarm is over. Then resume reading. My record is 1:30am.

Don’t forget, these basic principles can be applied to many other chores. Standing over a laundry basket next to a pile of washing for instance. Disappointingly, ironing doesn’t work.

 Let me know on my website, bewritingblog.wordpress.com if you have any other suggestions!


About Abigail Shepherd

Abigail is 29 years old and currently living in the Highlands of Scotland. She’s most recently been published in The Flash Fiction Press and Mystery Weekly. Her regency romance series, Ask Me No Secrets, is about to be released on Chanillo and her YA historical fiction novel, A Victorian Victory, is out next year with Rainy Day Reads Publishing. Her hobbies include fishing, napping, and drinking exceptionally good wine. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter under the name @abiwriting.