Recently we moved to a home that has only one bathroom.  With a family of four, this means we had to instill a 10 minute bathroom time limit.  For most of us this isn’t a problem…for Saria it is.

When we used to have two bathrooms, I would let her take all the time she needed.  And she took it – with books.   She likes to read on the pot.  I don’t know when she started this trend, but it’s probably my fault.  I vaguely remember trying to find ways to make bathroom time more interesting as she has always hated to stop what she is doing to have to go to the bathroom.

So here we are with one bathroom and as soon as it’s time for her to go potty she grabs at least 2-3 books and heads to the “library”, much like a 60 year old grandfather with his newspaper.  (No one we know, of course).   Although I love that this guarantees she gets in her 20 minutes a day of reading for her homework (and then some), it isn’t working well with our family.

So I started thinking, what is it she likes so much about the bathroom as a reading place?  The solace and alone time?  The lack of any visual or auditory distractions?  The cold toilette seat on her buns?  Hopefully not that one…

I want her to love reading, and I want her to go to the bathroom when she needs to and not dread the time she is in there.  But we really want to move her reading time somewhere else.  We want to re-create whatever it is about the bathroom that makes her want to read there, via sectioning off a small part of her room where she can be “alone”.

We came up with a ton of ideas – section off a corner with bookshelves, add a rug, bean bags, etc.  All the things that most kids would find inviting and would want to spend time reading in.  However, the added step we have to take is removing distractions and keeping her focused on reading and not getting caught up on sensations, such as the feeling of the rug (she doesn’t like the high pile soft kind) or the slipperiness of the beanbag.  If we use curtains to section it off, they need to be low-key and plain.  Otherwise she will fixate on those.  But maybe that would be OK.  Perhaps alone chill-out time, would not be bad either.  But a reading nook it would no longer be.

I asked her what she thought would make a good reading chair.  She said, “I know! You can put a toilette in my room and then I can sit and read and not have to come in the bathroom!”  She honestly thought she had the perfect solution.  Can’t blame her for trying.

I have started thinking tonight, that I may be totally off here.  Is it just a habit – a bad habit –  that she picked up and has now become a routine – a part of the process of what to do when you go to the bathroom?  Like one of her steps, will she feel compelled to read in the bathroom even if she has a reading nook and already reads there?

As with many of my attempts to gently coax her behaviors in the direction I want them to go, they tend to backfire.   And those that don’t, just fail miserably.  But it doesn’t stop me from trying.

So first question is how to section off part of  a room that she shares with her sister.  It’s a fairly small room, but we think we can use the corner next to her side of the shared bed.

I found a chair online that looked promising – was egg shaped which would block out a lot of sound and visual distractions.  But when we went to the store to look at it,  it ended up being too small.  I haven’t been able to find any chairs like that for older kids.  But I am still looking.

Plan B is to block off the area with a bookshelf and use a rug and some type of chair.  Another idea is to use curtains that would hang from the ceiling.   Running a search from more ideas, I found this website that shows you how to build a tent-like reading nook.   Neither of us are that handy though, nor do we have the time and energy that would take.  But the idea is good.

Going to keep “nooking”  😉

Update – 3/1/2012

We made the nook!  So far she LOVES it…but it has started to change from a reading nook to a library for her stuffed animals.  Regardless she has not been using the bathroom for reading anymore.

She was even reading to her little sister yesterday.

Saria's Reading Nook
Saria's Reading Nook